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HomeWorld newsMandatory reporting of health problems with 'functional foods' proposed

Mandatory reporting of health problems with ‘functional foods’ proposed

A Consumer Affairs Agency panel has proposed that reporting of health problems caused by ‘functional foods’ should be made mandatory and quality control for such products should be tightened.

The panel discussed reforms in response to health problems caused by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s supplements beni kо̄ji red fermented rice.

The expert panel on Thursday called for the introduction of these legal rules for functional foods – rules that advertise health-promoting ingredients but have not been assessed by the government – to replace the current guidelines. It also supported the introduction of similar regulations for foods with specified health purposes, or for foods for which the government has determined that there is sufficient scientific evidence about their benefits and safety.

The proposals will be reflected in a plan the agency will soon draw up to overhaul the functional food system.

The panel suggested that all health problems confirmed by a doctor’s diagnosis be subject to the intended mandatory reporting rule, since Kobayashi Pharmaceutical disclosed the health problems two months after learning about them. Those who break the rule should not be allowed to claim that their products are functional foods.

Meanwhile, the agency said Thursday that its emergency investigation into functional foods revealed 82 cases of health problems related to 31 products based on health problem reports by doctors, of which 75 cases were linked to supplements.

The survey, conducted in the wake of the Kobayashi Pharmaceutical scandal, which has been linked to at least five deaths in Japan, included 6,795 products made by 1,693 companies registered as of March 22.

The agency initially announced in April that 147 cases of health problems related to 35 products had been reported, but revised the figures downward after excluding products not registered as functional foods and reports from people other than medical professionals.

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