This is a critical literature review designed to examine various functional food groups that are available or being researched today, their effects on human health and how they may warrant further study or potential inclusion into various available foods by governments with a view to improving the general health and wellbeing of its citizens.
This includes taking a closer look at a few available compounds that are on the market today and ways that they are currently being produced.
Various aspects of functional foods are discussed, including various safety aspects of using functional foods, and what exactly should constitute as sound scientific evidence to support the health claims attached to these foods.
This review of functional foods looks at their place in society today, and where they may fit in the future. While there are many methods for producing functional foods, those derived from existing sources, be those plant or animal were found to be best. This is because of the consumers' preference to consume products that are considered organic as opposed to synthetic, in order to fit in whit their idea of health. And the production aspects of producing compounds as by-products of organic life, including energy costs and waste reduction.
Get your grade
or your money back
using our Essay Writing Service!
Should a world be achieved where functional foods are commonplace then there will likely be an improvement in public health and a reduction on the strain of the healthcare system.
1. Introduction 5
2. Functional Food Classes 8
2.1 Plant Extracts 8
2.1.1 Resveratrol 8
2.1.2 Agaricus bisporus; 9
2.2 Probiotics 9
2.2.1 Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus 9
2.3 Prebiotics 9
2.4 Synbiotics 9
3. Growth of the market 9
3.1 So why the surge of public interest? 10
3.2 Food fortification through history 11
4. Main 11
4.1 Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) 12
4.1.1 Effects; 12
4.1.2 Availability from non-fortified foods; 12
4.1.3 Production; 12
4.2 Omega 3 Fatty Acids 13
4.2.1 Effects; 14
4.2.2 Availability from non-fortified foods; 14
4.2.3 Production; 14
4.3 Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) 15
4.3.1 Effects; 15
4.3.2 Production; 15
4.4 Tetradecylthioacetic Acid (TTA) 15
4.4.1 Effects; 16
4.4.2 Production; 16
5. Safety considerations; 16
6. Conclusions 17
6.1 Functional foods; 17
6.2 Production; 17
6.3 The Future of Functional Foods; 18
7. References 18
8. Nomenclature 24
Functional foods, also known as designer foods or pharmafoods, are identified as food products that offer an additional health benefit over the basic nutritional value of the food itself. This could be in the form of either animal or plant foods that contain an amount of an active ingredient that has been shown to exhibit anti-cancerous, cholesterol lowering properties or other desirable effects in humans.
The idea of functional foods is to provide health benefits when coupled with a balanced diet, as a form of disease mitigation or prevention in order to help improve general wellbeing of the population. It is intended to work with modern medicine and not in direct contention; functional foods are not for the medicinal treatment of illnesses.
In the same way that medicine is not a substitute for poor health, functional foods are not an intended replacement for a bad diet. Poor health is often the result of a bad lifestyle and medicine can only treat the symptoms of that, and a healthy diet is but one aspect of leading a healthy lifestyle.
Diet clearly has a large impact on the wellbeing of the consumer, with diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer generally being the leading causes of death in the western world, and many of them are influenced by diet. The average person's diet contains excessive amounts of fat or sugars and is lacking in fruits and vegetables.
However with a generally more health conscious population, many are turning towards their diet as a method to increase health. This along with scientists discovering many bioactive components that reside in foods, recent technological advances and changes in public health guidelines has led to the appearance of the functional food market as we know it today. As many western healthcare systems are under pressure from dealing with problems associated with an ageing population and obesity. This is seen by many as a positive step for people's wellbeing as a whole. Over the last decade there has been a rapid growth in interest by both consumers and companies alike, and a recent change in the US law that allows companies to claim health benefits of certain supplements without necessary Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval has only served to increase this growth.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
With the surge of interest the FDA was struggling to assess the claims and safety of all the new supplements on the market, so in 1994 the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed. Essentially this act regulates dietary supplements as foods and not as additives. This allows companies to use active ingredients in their supplements without FDA support, they need only: 1) Notify the FDA 30 days prior to marketing the product, and 2) Attach the disclaimer: "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease." This amendment has taken some pressure off the FDA, but has also allowed companies to market and sell supplements based on little or anecdotal evidence for their claimed health benefit as a method for promoting financial gain as opposed to selling reputable products. This is particularly prevalent in the sports supplement industry, where lack of FDA involvement has led to Whey Protein supplements being sold that reportedly contain elevated levels of toxic heavy metals or, in one of the more recent cases, some that are laced with steroids. (http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/CriminalInvestigations/ucm305494.htm).
These are of course extreme cases, but there are many functional foods that are being marketed that are based on less than sound medical evidence. Health claims should only be attached to foods that have displayed multiple times what their effects are in repeatable, randomized controlled studies in humans. Any adverse effects should also be noted and recommended intakes and upper tolerable limits should be established, as it is with many other ingested compounds.
The actual number of FDA supported dietary supplements is quite small in comparison to the multitude of products being promoted by the health industry. As of August 2012 the official number of FDA recognised health effects from foods is as follows; (http://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/labelclaims/healthclaimsmeetingsignificantscientificagreementssa/default.htm#Approved_Health_Claims)
Approved Health Claims;
Calcium and Vitamin D, for positive effects on osteoporosis.
Dietary lipids (fat), for effects on cancer
Dietary saturated fat and cholesterol, for effects on Coronary Heart Disease
Dietary Non-cariogenic Carbohydrate Sweeteners, for effects on tooth decay
Fibre-containing Grain Products, Fruits and Vegetables, for effects on Cancer
Folic Acid, for effects on Neural Tube Defects
Fruits, Vegetables and Grain Products that contain Fibre, particularly Soluble fibre, and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
Sodium and effects on Hypertension
Soy ProteinÂ and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
Stanols/Sterols and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease (Currently under review)
This is not to say that all other supplements are of no use, their health benefits may still be being evaluated by the FDA as well as investigating for potential adverse effects and required dosages and tolerable limits. Table 1 shows the strength of evidence for many examples of food ingredient that are still under review by the FDA.
Type of evidence
Strength of evidence
Recommended amount or frequency of intake
Plant sterol and stanol esters
Reduce total and LDL cholesterol
1.3 g/d for sterols
1.7 g/d for stanols
Reduce total and LDL cholesterol
Reduce total and LDL cholesterol
Whole oat products
Reduce total and LDL cholesterol
Reduce urinary tract infections
Small number of clinical trials
(n-3) Fatty acids
Reduce TG, reduce heart disease cardiac deaths and fatal and non-fatal myocardial infarction
Clinical trials; epidemiological studies
Qualified health claim for dietary supplements
Reduce total and LDL cholesterol
This Essay is
a Student's Work
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.Examples of our work
Conventional food or dietary supplement
Reduce risk of certain types of cancer
Weak to moderate
Spinach, kale, collard greens
Reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration
Weak to moderate
Conventional food or dietary supplement
Tomatoes and processed tomato products
Reduce risk prostate cancer
Weak to moderate
Lamb, turkey, beef, dairy
Reduce breast cancer
In vivo and in vitro studies
Reduce risk of certain types of cancer
3 or more servings/wk
Fermented dairy products
Support GI health, boost immunity
In vivo and in vitro studies, limited clinical data
Conventional food or dietary supplement
For example Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) has only emerged as a potential health supplement relatively recently. CLA looks promising because of the numerous beneficial effects it is reported to have, which are;
Increases Muscle Mass
Decreases Fat Mass
Increases Bone Density
The body recomposition aspects of Conjugated Linoleic Acid are of particular interest with the western population slowly becoming more and more overweight or obese. CLA will be discussed in more detail later.
2. Functional food classes;
There exists many classes of functional food product, depending upon its source. Most functional foods discussed in this report are fats derived from animal products, but animal sources are just a small part of the functional foods available and being researched today;
2.1 Plant extracts;
Functional foods derived from plant based extracts are the largest group of functional food, while not many of them have confirmed health claims attached to them, there is a lot of research currently directed at plant based extracts for their use with disease prevention and control. Perhaps one of the best known ones is resveratrol;
A natural phenol that is known to be found in the skins of red grapes, resveratrol was investigated for its health effects after it was noted that cases of heart disease in several areas of France were measurably lower than the surrounding parts of Europe, this was in spite of the fact that the French people were ingesting relatively high amounts of saturated fats in their diet. It was discovered that the resveratrol in the diets of the French people, obtained by frequently drinking red wine, had cardio-protective properties that maintained good health (Kopp P. et al,. 1998).
Since this discovery, resveratrol has been investigated for possible neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties (Kumar P. et al., 2006)( Gentilli M. et al., 2001), it has also been linked with increasing testosterone production, leading it to be produced as a sports supplement (Shin S., et al., 2008).
2.1.2 Agaricus bisporus;
Otherwise known as the common mushroom, has been shown to inhibit the aromatase enzyme in humans, which leads to it providing anti breast cancer properties in women (Zhang, M. et al., 2009). It is also being studied as an immune system booster (Ren Z. et al., 2008).
Probiotics are strains of microorganisms that, when ingested, will provide the host with positive health effects. Most probiotics support intestinal health however there are a few under study with different reported effects;
2.2.1 Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus;
One of the many types of bacteria that is used in yoghurt production, however some strains have been demonstrated to lower cholesterol levels in animal studies (Sanders ME. 2000) and have positive effects on immune function (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine 2010).
Prebiotics are somewhat similar to probiotics, but the two are not to be confused. Whereas probiotics contained strains of microorganisms that promote health, prebiotics are non-digestible foods that promote probiotic growth once they are ingested, because of this, probiotics and prebiotics share many of the health rewards such as improving the immune system (Lomax AR. et al., 2009) and anti-cancerous effects (Geier MS. et al., 2006)( Munjal U. et al., 2009).
Synbiotics are mixtures of both probiotic and prebiotic in order to maximise their effectiveness.
3. Growth of the market;
It is not surprising that given the vast increase of demand for functional foods, and relative freedom that companies have to promote their products that the functional food market has grown rapidly over the last decade. In 2002 the functional food market of the United States was valued at ~$18.5billion (Nutrition Business Journal 2002), now in 2012 it is predicted to reach over $90billion by the end of 2015 (US Nutraceuticals Market Analysis 2012), an increase of over 380% in 15 years, averaging a $5.5billion increase per year. Functional foods still remain as one of the most extensively researched areas in food and will continue to be given the current trends in public interest.
3.1 So why the surge of public interest?
In recent years more and more people are actively trying to be responsible for their own health, and the functional food market is the industries response to this demand. But the increase in interest over the last decade could be down to humanities recent technological advances on the average person's lifestyle, as active jobs have become rarer and office jobs are commonplace. Advances in computing technology have revolutionised traditional jobs and while the end result is usually an increase in productivity, the average job now requires little to no physical exertion, often spending vast portions of the day sitting down. This now means that many people can live successfully while being completely sedentary, coupled with trends in the average diet, often excessively high in calories and particularly in the U.S., large amounts of high fructose corn syrup. This has caused much of the western population to become overweight, obese or otherwise unhealthy.
Following this, many scientific investigations have been carried out exactly to determine the impacts of poor diet and little exercise on the national health, and the results show that it can be extremely detrimental. The vast majority of the public is now aware of this and is making attempts to be more physically active should their lifestyle be lacking, and to pay close attention to their diet to avoid both excessive overeating, and to avoid substances known to be associated with health risks, such as saturated fats and refined sugars.
While acknowledging and avoiding the detrimental effects associated with bad foods, consumers are recognising the positive effects associated with 'good' foods, and it is because of this that the food supplements industry was born. And it is set to continue its rapid growth as more people adopt a healthier lifestyle. The ageing population will also continue to fuel this increase in attention, as in the coming years amount of elderly people in the population is set to increase and the heightened risks of various diseases associated with ageing such as cognitive decline and osteoporosis will drive more to consider new novel cures to these.
Functional foods in the future do have the potential to save billions in healthcare costs and to take a huge amount of stress of the healthcare system, and this will be another incentive to further pursue their research and development that is of much interest to governments.
3.2 Food fortification through history;
Most western civilisations have been fortifying various foods with vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients for many years in an attempt to lower cases in various deficiencies among the population. There has been marked success in some cases, for instance Rickets; a condition where Vitamin D deficiency leads to poor mineralisation and subsequent softening of the bones, often causing deformities in the legs or spine. Rickets primarily occurred in young children until the 1930s when it was linked with Vitamin D deficiency. Following that Vitamin D was added into dairy products and cases of Rickets fell from roughly 80-90% of children displaying symptoms, to it being largely unheard of. (Holick, M.F., et al 2010)
Using this method of food enrichment with other micronutrients has led to cases of vitamin and essential mineral deficiencies, and associated illnesses to fall to almost non-existent. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) the most commonly enriched foods are;
Fats and Oils
Accessory food items
Tea and other Beverages
It follows on from this then, that other compounds or macronutrients could be added to food sources if they prove beneficial to human health. Other considerations must be taken into account of course, just the upper tolerable limit of these substances before they become toxic or otherwise detrimental to the consumer, and any adverse effects that may even be present at dosages below this upper threshold.
Methods of production for each active ingredient, as well as the individual effects and its suitability to be added to food or remain a separate dietary supplement will vary will the nature of the compound and the dosages it requires, so will need to be assessed separately from one another.
Various substances exist with many health claims attached to each of them, and methods for their production and application will undoubtedly play a role in their availability to the consumer. With efficiency of their synthesis in terms of energy, raw materials costs and preparation time being of importance to the companies that may seek to produce them. The cheapest, most efficient available method of production will usually be chosen by the production companies providing that it doesn't significantly affect product quality.
4.1 Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
As mentioned earlier on CLA is a compound that has effects of particular relevance to an overweight or obese population, it has been shown to exhibit positive effects on reducing fat mass in humans while also increasing muscle mass (Whingham et al. 2007). It also has positive effects on bone density (Watkins, B. A et al., 1999) and has been shown to possess anti cancerous properties. (Amarù DL, Field CJ. 2009) and (Wang et al. 2006).
However an isomer of CLA, the trans-10, cis-12 isomer has been linked to adverse effects on health in humans, including increasing oxidative stress (Ulf Risérus et al. 2002), increasing cholesterol (Nazare JA et al 2007) and lowering levels of Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (Kelley, D.S et al 2006). DHA is a fatty acid that promotes good cardiac function. As well as also increasing insulin resistance in overweight subjects (Riserus et al. 2002) so use of CLA for weight loss purposes should be cautious if the consumer is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Most observable effects from CLA supplementation in humans are a result of both the trans-10, cis-12 and the cis-9, trans-11 isomers working together however. Both have exhibited some anti-cancerous effects, however these effects can stack up when both isomers are present (Ip et al., 2002). Also when used together the potential side effects from one isomer can be cancelled out by the other, for example the increased insulin resistance caused by the trans-10, cis-12 isomer can be negated by the presence of the cis-9, trans-11 isomer. (Song et al., 2004)
Despite the potential adverse effects from each isomer, there is no evidence to suggest that long term supplementation between 3-6g per day will cause any serious negative effects in healthy humans (Gaullier et al., 2005).
4.1.2 Availability from non-fortified foods;
CLA occurs naturally in numerous foods, predominantly in food products made from grass fed mammals, for instance beef or dairy products, with kangaroo meat having the highest concentration of CLA.
CLA exists in numerous isomers, with the cis-9, trans-11 isomer being the primary naturally occurring isomer found in animal products, mostly by being produced in the rumen of the animals by hydrogenation of Linoleic Acid (LA) into cis-9,trans-11-CLA (Kepler et al. 1966), a small portion of which is absorbed into the surrounding tissue, which is why beef is a good source for CLA (Chin et al. 1994).
Concentrations of CLA have been shown to be significantly increased in milk and beef products when the animals are fed on grass as opposed to the usual mass production diet of cereals and grains (T. R. Dhiman, 2001). However, most reported effects of CLA are when taking dosages of roughly 3g per day, so external supplementation will usually be required to reach these levels.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid is readily available from supplementation stores and online retailers in either capsules or raw powder form for consumers seeking its health benefits. A CLA capsule is usually dosed at 1000mg per capsule containing both the cis-9, trans-11 isomer and the trans-10, cis-12 isomer, and is most commonly marketed as a weight loss aid. The CLA produced for this supplementation is usually synthesised from Linoleic rich Safflower oil, either via the Ultra-Violet photoisomerisation Linoleic Acid (W. Gammill et al., 2010), this can also be done in the presence of an iodine catalyst (A. Proctor et al., 2009), or by Alkaline isomerization (P. Horlacher et al., 2007). These methods rely heavily on the amount of available Linoleic Acid present in the oil to begin with, and will determine the yield and isomer ratios.
Recently a method for producing CLA has been used, which closely resembles the way that CLA is produced in the rumen of cows by utilising the microorganism Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens. The microorganism used is Bifidobacterium breve LMC520, and instead of its use to produce CLA for dietary supplementation, it is being researched for potential use as a probiotic in order to produce CLA in vivo. (H. G. Park et al., 2011)
Recent attempts to synthesise CLA from Linoleic Acid in a catalysed hydrogenation reaction have had mixed results, overall producing CLA at a faster rate and in greater quantities. One example using a gold catalyst the overall conversion was high (>90%) however the selectivity of the product fell as the over hydrogenation of the CLA produced unwanted products such as Vaccenic, Oleic or Stearic Acid (P. Bauer et al., 2009).
4.2 Omega 3 Fatty Acids;
Omega 3 or n-3 fatty acids are well known for their positive effects on human health, the FDA recognises them for lowering Triglycerides, reducing heart disease and lowering rates of fatal and non-fatal myocardial infraction. The two most well recognised n-3 fatty acids are Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
DHA has been shown to make up significant portions of the eyes and brain in humans (Meharban Singh et al., 2005) and is already used as a food supplement to aid brain and retinal development in infants (FDA: 2002)
DHA has been recognised for its ability to promote cognitive function and has been shown to produce neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons) in vivo (Kawakita E. et al., 2006) and can reduce cognitive decline in patients (Mazereeuw G. et al., 2012), (Lukiw WJ et al., 2005). And a recent study that has linked DHA with the ability for slowing the rates of telomere shortening, which is an indication of human ageing at the DNA level (Farzaneh-Far R et al., 2010).
EPA has also been shown to help with cognitive issues such as mental conditions, by providing some benefit to conditions such as schizophrenia (Peet M et al,. 2001) and (Song C. et al,. 2007). As well as reducing depression in suicidal patients (Huan M. et al,. 2004).
Most n-3 fatty acids have been linked with a lower overall mortality and beneficial to cardiac health (J.H. Lee et al., 2009) (J.V. Pottala et al., 2010) via various anti-inflammatory properties.
FDA noted adverse effects from excessive DHA and EPA consumption can include increased bleeding times, and risk of haemorrhagic stroke as well as possible negative effects on cholesterol when consumed in greater quantities than 3grams per day.
4.2.2 Availability from non-fortified foods;
The primary source of Omega 3 fatty acids in a natural human diet will be from oily fish such as Herring, Sardines, Mackerel or Salmon (Kris-Etherton et al., 2002), the recommended intake of n-3 fatty acids is 1.6g/day and 1.1g/day for men and women respectively (Food and Nutrition Board 2005). While there is no defined tolerable upper limit for n-3 consumption the FDA has stated that up to 3grams per day can be safely consumed (Bent S et al., 2009)( Kris-Etherton et al., 2002)
Most of the supplementary n-3 fatty acids available are not synthesised from scratch but are instead extracted from the remains of fish at processing plants from fish products that would otherwise be waste products, the fish oil can then be filtered and otherwise refined and placed into capsules for the consumer (http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/X6899E/X6899E04.htm). The average fish oil capsule contains 180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA.
Fish themselves do not produce DHA, instead they obtain most of it through their own diet, particularly through algae (Falk-Petersen, S., S. et al. 1998). Following this, direct production of DHA through microorganisms has been achieved, for example by use of Crypthecodinium cohnii. It is grown in a nutrient solution of glucose and yeast extract, the DHA is extracted by use of a hexane solvent, which is then distilled off (A. Mendes et al., 2009), DHA for organic infant formula is produced with this method. There are many different microorganisms used to produce DHA, however DHA produced in this manner is generally considered of a purer quality and safer for infant consumption as fish often contain higher levels of heavy metals, including mercury, which can cause adverse effects.
4.3 Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
ALA can be produced in the body via biosynthesis of octanoic acid and by addition of Sulphur, however many health benefits have been associated with external supplementation.
ALA has been studied for its effects on numerous health issues including preventing organ dysfunction (Gianturco, V et al., 2009), preventing cardiovascular diseases (Ghibu, S et al., 2009), treating metabolic syndrome (Minokoshi, Y. et al., 2004) and reducing inflammation (Zhang WJ. et al., 2007).
It also has positive effects on mental health such as improving mood, supporting cognitive function in elderly patients and showing positive effects on Alzheimer's sufferers (Liu, J 2008), (Holmquist, L. et al., 2007), (Hager, K. et al., 2007)
It also reportedly has the effect of increasing the rate of healing of those with wounds (Alleva, R. et al., 2005)
ALA is found in nearly all foods, however it is rarely in a bioavailable form (Durrani, Arjumand I. et al., 2010) as such most ALA naturally present in humans is as a result of the body's biosynthesis. Also because of this, any ALA available for supplementation purposes is chemically synthesised.
ALA can be produced my many microorganisms, such as Pseudomonas reptilivora with similar reaction pathways as the human body, as such it requires the presence of the same reagents, octanoic acid and a sulphur donor. Pseudomonas reptilivora is grown on a medium of casein, glucose and yeast extract (Jung-Hwan Ji et al., 2008)
ALA is synthesised and sold as a dietary supplement but is not currently added to foods for utilisation of its health effects.
4.4 Tetradecylthioacetic Acid (TTA)
Tetradecylthioacetic Acid is a synthetic fatty acid that is already available as a nutritional supplement, it is not known to be available through food products or fortified food products at this point, however it is available for dietary supplementation in powder form.
TTA has reported affects for boosting immune function (F. Grammes et al., 2011), aiding blood flow, having positive effects on blood cholesterol and reducing inflammation (Bjørndal, B. et al., 2012). However arguably the main effects of TTA are its positive effects on insulin resistance and on the reduction of fat mass (Løvås, K. et al., 2009), (Madsen, L. et al., 2002). It's for this reason that TTA is often marketed as a fat loss aid, and its positive effects on insulin allow it to be used by those at risk of diabetes without adverse effect. TTA is also well tolerated for long periods of time (Madsen, L. et al., 2002).
TTA, being a completely synthetic fatty acid, is produced by chemical processes and industrial synthesis as opposed to utilising microorganisms.
5. Safety considerations;
As noted previously for many of the components above, while offering some potential health benefits to the consumer in disease prevention or health promotion, there can also be negative effects from some of the compounds. While some are mild at best, others have the potential to be more serious and the safety of the consumer should be of critical importance. The issue with this is that there is no one way of determining if a substance is inherently safe for human consumption, there exists dose dependencies and factors depending on age, gender, race, pregnancy and many others. This creates a grey area in which a lot of these substances sit, and due to the differing nature of all of them, they often have to be evaluated in a case by case basis.
Other considerations include the required dosage of the product, even if it has been established that the compound has very little or no adverse effects on human health, excessive dosages could still prove to be detrimental.
Production methods are also important to consider, should the manufacturing process involve heavy metals or toxic solvents that may contaminate the final product, then it is a risk to human health.
All characteristics of the substance should be evaluated to establish its safety, once there is a reliable test to take, or criteria to meet that will categorically determine the safety and effectiveness of a compound, that is when we will see a vast increase of the quality and quantity of functional foods as a whole.
6.1 Functional foods;
On the whole, there has been many advances in areas of functional foods for purposes of disease prevention and control, many have significant positive health effects. However the functional food industry as it stands today is promoting some supplements that are not based on completely on solid scientific evidence and there are some concerns about the effectiveness of some products. There is also the issue that some consumers may not completely understand the health benefits associated with some functional foods because of the required labelling. An increase in transparency between governments, supplement companies and consumers as to what is understood to be good scientific evidence will allow a deeper understanding into the health claims made.
Any proposed dietary supplement for health purposes should be studied extensively under strict conditions to ensure its positive health effects before being put on sale to the public, analysis into recommended dosages and adverse effects should also be investigated.
Consumers should continue to look towards their diet, among other methods in order to become healthier, doing so can help to improve longevity for the individual as well as taking stress of many healthcare systems.
We can see that where available, most production methods used are involving some organic process. Be it the source of the raw material for synthesis or if the actual process is carried out by microorganisms. This emerging trend is beneficial to the chemical engineering industry overall, most consumers would regard any result of a traditional chemical synthesis as a foreign chemical that has no place in the human body, despite its chemical similarity to many compounds that they may be ingesting already as a part of their diet. If however, the product is a result of some form of "extract", be it a well-recognised animal or a microorganism, then most of the public's inhibitions towards that product will be lessened.
In addition to this, there is an advantage to the production company to use biological components besides product marketability. That is that for most of the mentioned compounds, when being synthesised through organic routes there is often a much higher selectivity of the product, which can help to lessen waste. This can save on production costs and can also help further their reputation as a "green" company.
The downside of course to performing a process this way is that it will most likely be unable to be made into a continuous process, which can often result in requirements of more equipment, and production times in biological components can often be the limiting factor for the overall manufacturing rate.
6.3 The Future of Functional Foods;
Regarding the future of functional foods one thing extremely apparent; we can expect to see continuing growing interest in functional foods in developed countries for quite some time. And as more is understood about how food can be used as preventative medicine we could see foods being evaluated as more than just nutritional sustenance. There are also certain trends within the functional food industry that we can expect to see, such as the favouring of "natural" products and extracts. As consumers will be more likely to feel safer using a product of nature as opposed to a synthesised chemical, for that reason further development of various berry or plant extracts will become increasingly popular. We can also expect to see engineered 'healthier' versions of existing natural foods become popular because of this, be it by fortifying them with bioactive components, or by using bioengineering to enhance these products as they grow. The future of genetically modified food products will be heavily influenced by the functional food industry.
Another emerging trend is that customers want a product that they can feel or see is working, this is what has led to the success of weight loss products and energy drinks. The success of a specific product will be tied in with the customers' ability to recognise what that product has done for them; this will usually cause them to attach a higher price to what that product is worth to them.
Specialised brands will be attached to nutritionally enriched products; as the health claims for various substances become scientifically reinforced and publically available, companies will attach various labels to their products and market them as superfoods as some have done already with things such as weight loss cereals.