The Regulation of Health Claims in Advertising for Functional Foods and Natural Health Products in Canada and the United States

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This paper briefly examines the state of regulation in Canada and the United States with regard to the commercial advertisement of health claims associated with nutraceuticals, functional foods, and natural health products (NFFNHPs). A literature review was conducted to assess the state of the scientific research on the health benefits of the basic food elements that are essential ingredients in many NFFNHPs, and thus are subject to regulations governing allowable health claims in advertising. The types of health claims allowed to be used in advertising in Canada and the United States were checked for congruence with the scientific research found in the academic literature surveyed.

The use of nutraceuticals, functional foods, and natural health products (NFFNHPs) to derive associated health benefits is common in Canada. Using data from 2005, Health Canada estimates that 71% of Canadians regularly use nutraceuticals, meaning they regularly consume vitamins and minerals, homeopathic medicines, etc. That number might be larger if it included Canadians who have changed their consumption of certain foods or food products because of associated health claims.

This paper briefly examines the state of regulation in Canada and the United States with regard to the commercial advertisement of health claims associated with nutraceuticals, functional foods, and natural health products (NFFNHPs). A literature review was conducted to assess the state of the scientific research on the health benefits of the basic food elements that are essential ingredients in many NFFNHPs, and thus are subject to regulations governing allowable health claims in advertising. The types of health claims allowed to be used in advertising in Canada and the United States were checked for congruence with the scientific research found in the academic literature surveyed.


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