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Better for you? Healthy Food

September 10, 2009

New Products: High profits

It’s ironic that the biggest-selling ‘healthy’ food product category internationally is one associated with digestive health (in the US cardiovascular health is top-selling category; this is second in UK) – perhaps ironing out problems caused by all the salt, sugar, fat and additives in other food and soft drink categories.

Over 2,861 new ‘functional food’ products claiming to promote digestive health were launched by profit-hungry food manufacturers between 2005-2009 according to the latest Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD).

Artificially fortified products (most listed common first)
* Spoonable/ drinkable yogurt
* Drinking yogurt and cultured milk
* Tea
* Cheese
* Snacks/cereals/energy bars

Healthy food: Worth the extra expense?

The area of health claims for food is coming under increased scrutiny by the EU which will see all products needing to provide evidence before health claims can be splashed across packaging and adverts. About time too as manufacturers rely on the gullibility of shoppers (and their general sense of confusion around food) to flog questionable products – usually at highly inflated prices – to line shareholders pockets.

Take a closer look at the ingredients next time you buy: the main ingredients in probiotic drinks (supposedly to aid digestive tract health) are water and sugar.


Major US food co. General Mills, has been threatened with a legal challenge by State Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unless it changes the misleading health claims of bestselling Cheerios (Toasted Whole Grain Oat) cereal. Under US law the cholesterol lowering claims would classify the product as an unapproved drug as it implies eating it can help treat (or even prevent)  heart diseases or related conditions.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2009 9:00 am

    Interesting piece on artificially fortified products.

    I am all for innovation in food, and particularly helping people make healthy choices.

    I think that there are far too many easy options that are not a credible substitute for good food, even if there marketing suggestes otherwise. The fact is that eating fresh, unprocessed food is better for you than a diet of rubbish food and “top-up” products.

    I think that better policing of manufaturers claims is ideal if we are to avoid people using suppliments as a replacement for healthy living.

  2. October 6, 2009 7:23 pm

    If you look at old newspapers, you find many ads for foods and patent medicines promoting healthy digestion. The terminology and to a degree the products may have changed, but it is still a multi-million £ business persuading us we have a problem that doesn’t really exist.

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