The Vice Counselor of Quality Care, Public Health and Consumption, Belén Prado, opened the Second International Symposium on Functional Foods organized by the Directorate General of Public Health and Food, and brings together more 300 experts in the field to address the current status of these "healthy" labeling and representation in advertising.
The food industry has added to market new food products in response to the growing interest of consumers for their health, for which employs a terminology often unknown. This symposium serves to dispel many doubts about the functionality, the justification for its consumption and health impacts, as explained Prado.
They are those that, in addition to its basic nutritional value because of its composition, can beneficially affect the body, so that improve health status or reduce the risk of certain diseases. Belén Prado moved to the Health and Consumer Affairs plans to conduct a study to determine the value and composition of functional food so that people can buy these products with the knowledge of their actual and potential benefits to health.
The Food Branch will undertake analysis of various functional products and the support of all the scientific societies of the sector to make available to the consumer information on the composition of products, the impact exerted on the health, and amounts, in any event, as recommended for the whole population or specific groups.
Varied food and "corrective" diet
The Vice counselor explained that the consumption of products with a possible beneficial effect on health is a concern for public health, it cannot be seen as substitutes for a healthy diet and nutrition, it is always advisable to consult. However, functional foods are well utilized as an advantage for people who have bad eating habits or are allergic to some of them, because thanks to these products ingest all the nutrients they need.
A pending legislation
Functional foods have no specific regulations governing their characteristics, and they are implementing Community legislation on general food labeling. At this time, awaiting for the EU to adopt regulations governing the healthy qualities of statements in the labeling and advertising and the addition of vitamins or other substances in food.
"We must have a regulatory framework, which set conditions on the functions of healthy products which are placed on the market, on the scientific research necessary to determine the veracity or otherwise of the properties advertised and legal requirements for labeling" said Prado.
Olive oil, omega 3 and bifidus
There are essentially three types of foods that are functional, i.e. they offer health benefits and reduce the risk of disease. In the first paragraph, there are traditional foods in our diet and components that are beneficial, such as olive oil, fruits or vegetables.
In a second section is the food which is removed through a technological means (such as food without salt or low sugar content), and finally that have added components, which are the new, more commercialized. In this section, there are the prebiotics and probiotic yogurts that have components that improve intestinal function; margarines with plant components that reduce levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad), or milk enriched with omega 3 fatty acid present in fish, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Functional foods emerged in Japan in the 80s, when health authorities realized that to control health care costs generated by the increased life expectancy of the elderly population, which had also ensure a better quality of life. A new concept of food, developed specifically to improve health and reduce the risk of disease.