Active ingredients leading in health claims on functional foods

Alie de Boer*, Miriam J E Urlings, Aalt Bast

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Defining and characterising the active ingredient is the first criterion in reviewing scientific substantiation of health claims by the European Food Safety Authority under the Nutrition and Health Claim Regulation. This study analyses three health claim dossiers where the active ingredient is directly connected to the food item containing the bioactive. Since this bioactive itself is held responsible for the effect, the association of the food item and the bioactive is not always justifiable. This association is shown to be influenced by both the type of claim and the substantiating evidence. We argue that it would be preferable to more precisely chemically define the active ingredients. Claims could then be based on a bioactive constituent without the necessity to connect the claim to a specific matrix, becoming more transparent and relevant to both the industry and consumers. Characterisation and defining the bioactive should therefore be central in the health claim.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-593
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Functional Foods
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Bioactives
  • EFSA
  • European food law
  • Functional food
  • Functional ingredients
  • Health claims

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