Label claims for functional foods
There are three categories of claims that U.S. food and beverage manufacturers may make in relation to health and wellness. They are: health claims, nutrient content claims and structure/function claims.
Health claims describe a relationship between a food or food component, and reducing the risk of a disease or health-related condition. Such claims are closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, with one such approved claim being: Adequate calcium and vitamin D, as part of a well-balanced diet, along with physical activity, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
The F.D.A. also allows for content claims, which describe the level of a dietary component in a product. One option is to identify the actual amount per serving of a specific component; for example, contains 32 mg of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (D.H.A.). Another option is to use an approved descriptor for dietary components that have an established Daily Value. For example, “high in protein” must deliver 20% or more of the Daily Value for protein, which would be 10 grams or more per serving.
Structure/function claims describe the role of a dietary component intended to affect normal structure or function in humans; for example, “fiber keeps you regular.” Such claims also may characterize the means by which the component acts to maintain such structure or function; for example, “fiber improves transit time.” Structure/function claims are considered general health promotion claims and cannot make reference to a disease state.