Functional food science: Differences and similarities with food science
Many nations are facing rising healthcare costs. The field of functional food science (FFS) has been introduced to combat this. Functional foods are foods with added bioactive compounds which provide a clinically proven health benefit. However, FFS and food science (FS) are often viewed as one and the same. To progress in development and research in the field of FFS, the two must be viewed as separate. Currently, the FDA has not issued or accepted a formal definition for functional foods. In contrast, the FDA accepts and actively uses FS. This makes it difficult to regulate functional foods and weakens public trust.
The FDA currently has a health claim authorization system in place, but it still fails to properly regulate functional foods. Other countries, such as Japan, have regulatory systems set in place specifically for functional foods. This increases public trust as there is a strict process that a product has to go through before it is authorized for consumption. Countries such as Japan could serve as a model for a functional foods regulatory system in the United States. The Functional Food Center (FFC) has proposed a 15 step system similar to Japan’s to authorize functional foods in the U.S. Due to a lack of governmental recognition, there is a large educational gap in secondary schools and higher educational institutions when it comes to FS and FFS. Courses and lessons regarding FS are more available to students than courses and lessons concerning FFS. In addition, the challenges that the field of FFS faces also work to separate the field from FS. Because FFS is concerned with creating functional food products (FFPs) that have a clinically proven health benefit, the scientific research in this field must meet rigorous standards to ensure that the FFP in question truly has substantial evidence for the health claim. It is important to not only acknowledge the distinction between these two fields but to also understand the benefit this will have on the well being of the general population. With FFS as an established field, research can be funded accordingly and new functional foods can be developed that can prevent or lessen the symptoms of disease. Through regular analysis and measurements through specific biomarkers, FFP can work alongside western medicine to combat disease and dysfunction. Finally, it is important that a major area that differs is the emphasis on quantity when it comes to FFS. Specific quantities must be outlined and followed in order for FFP to function as they are intended.
Keywords: Functional Food Science, Food Science, Bioactive Compound, Biomarker, Functional Food Product, Foods for Specific Health Use
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