The first batch of products with new “functional food” labels will hit stores nationwide this week, amid controversy over regulatory policy that critics say is too lax.
The labeling system for kinosei hyoji shokuhin, which roughly translates as “foods with function display,” was introduced in April, giving manufacturers a third way to advertise health-enhancing ingredients in their products.
The Consumer Affairs Agency said it has received some 200 applications so far from companies wanting to put the new label on their products, out of which 37 items have been registered and are expected to hit the market soon.
The product lineup includes a dietary supplement containing hyaluronate sodium to relieve dry skin, and PET-bottled tea with indigestible dextrin, which is known to slow rises of neutral fat and blood-sugar levels.
The new system is meant to be a middle road between two existing food labels: tokuho, short for tokutei hokenyo shokuhin, or food with specified health uses, and eiyo kino shokuhin, or food boasting nutrient functions.