"Functional Food is a Natural or processed food that contains known biologically-active compounds which when in defined quantitative and qualitative amounts provides a clinically proven and documented health benefit, and thus, an important source in the prevention, management and treatment of chronic diseases of the modern age". It was debated at the 9th International Conference on "Functional Foods and Chronic Diseases: Science and Practice" at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on March 15–17, 2011. Functional Food Center (FFC) has adopted a new definition of functional food. Functional Food Center defines functional food as "natural or processed foods that contain known or unknown biologically-active compounds; the foods, in defined, effective, and non-toxic amounts, provided a clinically proven and documented health benefits for the prevention, management, or treatment of chronic diseases".
According to the United States Department of Agriculture- Agricultural Research Service (USDA –ARS), functional foods are "designed to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions, and may be similar in appearance to conventional food and consumed as part of a regular diet".
The functional food industry, consisting of food, beverage and supplement sectors, is one of the several areas of the food industry that is experiencing fast growth in recent years. It is estimated by BCC Research that the global market of functional food industry will reach 176.7 billion in 2013 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4%. Specifically, the functional food sector will experience 6.9% CAGR, the supplement sector will rise by 3.8% and the functional beverage sector will be the fastest growing segment with 10.8% CAGR. This kind of growth is fueled not only by industrial innovation and development of new products that satisfy the demand of health conscious consumers but also by health claims covering a wide range of health issues. Yet, consumer skepticism persists mainly because benefits associated with consuming the products may be difficult to be detected. Strict examination of some of the functional food claims may discourage some companies from launching their products.
- Functional beverage
- Probiotic food
- Health claims on food labels
- Medical food, specially formulated foods to treat diseases with distinctive nutritional needs (e.g., an inability to metabolize a common molecule)
- Preventive medicine
- What are Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals? Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Archived June 7, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Danik M. Martirosyan (Ed): Functional Foods and Chronic Diseases: Science and Practice. Food Science Publisher; 2011
- Martirosyan, D. & Singh, J. A new definition of functional by FFC: what makes a new definition unique? review article. FFHDJ. 2015; 5(6):209–223.
- Basics about Functional Food. USDA-ARS website. http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/00000000/NPS/FinalFunctionalFoodsPDFReadVersion6-25-10.pdf Updated: June 15, 2010. Accessed: November 17, 2015
- "FOSHU, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan". Government of Japan.
- Roberts, W. "Benefiting Beverages." Prepared Foods August 2009
- Scholan, I. "Functional Beverages-- where next? Innovation in functional beverages market is set to continue." International Food Ingredients December 2007.
- Functional Foods: Public Health Boon or 21st Century Quackery?, a review of regulations and demand for functional foods in Japan, the U.S. and the UK (March 1999)