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What is Functional Food?

Japan is the only nation that has largely defined functional food1998
According to the National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board
functional foods is defined as any modified food or food ingredient that may
provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains(M. Hasler,
Functional food is a food that is given an additional function often one related to
health promotion by adding new ingredients or more of existing ingredients
(Maurice Doyon &JoAnne Labrecque, 2008).
History Growth in Functional Food
Nutrition science first emerged in the 1800s, later than even the idea of diet.
This new branch of science combined food knowledge with health and human
physiology. As the field of nutrition advanced, scientists could isolate and identify
nutrients needed for human survival and growth.
Beginning in the 1970s, scientists went so far as to recommend daily amounts of
nutrients in order to support human health. These came in the form of
recommended daily allowances (RDAs) and reference nutrition intakes (RNIs),
dietary guidelines, and food guides.
Japan is often credited with creating the term functional food in the late 1980s.
In 1980s, concept of functional foods was developed by Japan when faced with
escalating health care cost.
In the late 1980s, functional foods was initiated as a marketing term in Japan
and is used to describe foods fortified with ingredients capable of producing
health benefits (Christidis , Tsoulfa, Varagunam, & Babatzimopoulou, 2011).
Regulatory system to approve certain foods with health benefits documented by
the Ministry of Health and Welfare to improving the health of the nation's aging
population (M. Hasler, 2002). In 1990s, a functional food was introduced on the
market in the US and after that, there are scientific papers about consumers
attitudes (Markovina, Cacic, Kljusuric, & Kovacic, 2011).

Benefit of Functional Food to Society

With the rapid socio-economic growth Malaysia experiences over the decades,
modern living brings about changes and health issues such as heart disease,
cancer, and diabetes to various segments of the population (Stanton, Emms &
Sia, 2011).
The major selling proposition for functional foods, where functional foods enable
the consumer to lead a healthier life without changing eating habits (Jonas &
Beckmann, 1998).
Certain food ingredients, including living microorganisms or their constituents,
influence body functions as well as reduce risk of chronic illnesses and
debilitating diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancer,
osteoporosis and non-insulin dependent diabetes (Nordstrom and Bistrom, 2002;
Landstrom et al., 2009).
Functional foods exist at the interface between food and drugs, and therefore
offer great potential for health improvement and prevention of diseases when
ingested as part of a balanced diet.
Even a functional food with desirable and proven health benefits may not be
attractive to consumers, if its sensory properties do not meet customer
expectation and influence the change of consumer acceptance level.
Functional foods enable the consumer to lead a healthier life without changing
eating habits even when what they are eating currently are known to be
Christidis , N., Tsoulfa, G., Varagunam, M., & Babatzimopoulou, M. (2011). A Cross
Sectional Study of Consumer Awareness of Functional Foods in Thessaloniki,
Greece. Nutrition & Food Science, 41(3), 165 - 174.
Jonas, M. S., & Beckmann, S. C. (1998). Functional Foods: Consumer Perceptions
in Denmark and England. MAPP working paper no.5
Landstrom, E., Koivisto Hursti, U-K. and Magnusson, M. (2009), Functional
foods compensate for an unhealthy lifestyle, some Swedish consumers

impressions and perceived need of functional foods, Appetite, Vol. 53 No. 1, pp.
M. Hasler, C. (2002). Functional Food: Benefits, Concerns and Challenges-A
Position Paper from the American Council on Science and Health. The Journal of
Nutrition, 132(12), 3772-3781.
Markovina, J., Cacic, J., Kljusuric, J. G., & Kovacic, D. (2011). Young Consumers
Perception of Functional Foods in Croatia. British Food Journal, 113(1), 7 - 16.
Nordstrom, K. and Bistrom, M. (2002), Emergence of a dominant design in
probiotic functional food development, British Food Journal, Vol. 104 No. 9, pp.
Stanton, Emms, & Sia. (2011). Malaysia's Market for Functional Foods,
Nutraceuticals and Organic Foods. An Introduction for Canadian Producers and
Exporters. Counsellor and Regional Agri-Food Trade Commissioner, South East