Fed hearing on functional foods

The federal Food and Drug Administration is preparing to review the rules for the health claims “functional foods” are allowed to make on their labeling, holding a public hearing on the matter Dec. 5, the agency announced last month.

Functional foods are food products with an added “extra” — vitamins, special herbs and the like – that makers —laim provides the product with health benefits beyond its non-treated peers.

Manufacturers of all functional foods run the risk of consumer distrust if some products work and others don’t, according to David Browne, VP of SPINS, a research company on the natural-foods industry that was until last week based in San Francisco.

The FDA already regulates some functional-foods additives, allowing a heart-healthy claim for plant sterols and digestive and immunity claims for certain bacteria, Browne said.

“These launches … Brand New Brands has targeted what appear to be the strongest statements of the FDA on health,” Brown said. “Foods are becoming an awful lot like medicines, in the case of these functional foods, and supplements are becoming an awful lot like foods.”

He declined to comment extensively on thespecific Brand New Brands spinoffs, aside from noting that they are new to the market in competitive areas, but that Attune bars in particular may appeal to people who don’t like yogurt.

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