Functional food, beyond providing a purely nutritional value, may promote health or reduce the risk of disease

Functional food, beyond providing a purely nutritional value, may promote health or reduce the risk of disease. An example is food meant to lower the cholesterol level. During the past few years, the potential benefits posed by functional foods have led to an increased interest by producers and consumers as well as a broader range of such products on the market worldwide.

However, the targeted modification of food, for example through the inclusion of additives, may also pose negative health risks. Therefore, apart from scientific proof of the beneficial effect of functional food, a well-founded safety evaluation is also necessary. In the opinion of the DFG Senate Commission on Food Safety, it is precisely these safety aspects that have not been adequately considered so far. For this reason, the Senate Commission addressed the question of functional food safety at an international symposium in 2002 and is now presenting a symposium volume containing the results entitled "Functional Food - Safety Aspects". In addition to the individual papers presented at the conference, the publication contains conclusions and recommendations of the Senate Commission especially with regard to gaps in knowledge and the consequent need for research.

In an abridged version of the symposium volume, which is addressed to decision makers in politics, but also to national and international monitoring agencies, the Senate Commission has summarised in German and English evaluation criteria and safety requirements for functional food and has formulated quality requirements for studies intended to confirm functional effects. With the presentation of this publication the Senate Commission has created the framework for evaluating the benefits and risks of functional food.

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