Therapeutic food claims: a global perspective

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Purpose of review

Medical foods in the United States, and foods for special medical purposes in other countries, are food formulations used to manage specific chronic diseases or conditions under medical or physician supervision. The process of reviewing and approving food claims for health benefits varies widely from country to country.

Recent findings

CODEX Alimentarius, a 187-country and one-member (European Union) organization, has standardized not only nutrition labeling and food safety worldwide but has also recently taken on a prominent role in analyzing therapeutic and health claims for food in member countries by providing a framework to study these issues. Two recent activities at CODEX – analyzing foods for special dietary uses and foods for special medical purposes therapeutic food claims – have focused on both how these food categories are formulated for patients with specific conditions and diseases.


Food and specially formulated foods can play a role in preventing or mitigating disease and other health-related conditions. This article will examine the means by which regulatory authorities across the globe address health claims for foods and food-derived products to alter human physiology and disease outcome.

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