As promised, we continue our series on claims this week on what we believe to be one of the most prevalent, and trending, parts of food product labeling today: structural and functional claims. Given the current climate of the food industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are now more obsessed than they’ve ever been with the healthy qualities of their food choices. We’ve far surpassed the days of weight-loss products and the functional food movement is now in full swing. But what does this mean for your food product? How do you label it to alert the consumer that your product recipe contains healthy benefits? We’ve got it all right here to help you determine what functional & structural claims best suit your food product.
Know Your Product Ingredients
Whether you are the proud creator of a delicious line of marinades or a granola manufacturer, chances are you have health benefits to your product. And we can confidently say that because nutrients are the building blocks of every ingredient. Whether you’ve infused your marinades with citrus fruits or you’ve added chia seed to your granola recipe, you may be unaware of the nutritional punch your product may be hiding. Uncovering these hidden ingredient treasures is exactly how you can begin to speak to your audience through properly places functional & structural claims. (As a quick recap, structural or functional claims are claims that cite the nutrient benefits of a product similar to supplement labeling. A structural/functional claim does not claim to treat or remedy a disease but can accurately state the part or parts of the body that it can improve or the health benefits it promotes with appropriate nutrient science backing. For more on these claims, check out our article from last week).
Transforming Ingredients into Structural/Functional Claims
Understanding the benefits of your food product is as easy as reading your nutritional label or getting an updated nutrition analysis. It is the nutrients held within your product recipe ingredients that your target audiences are curious about. Let’s take a look at the product ingredients of a manufacturer of paleo granola (who we had the pleasure of interviewing just last year), Within/Without Granola.
Ingredients: Almonds, Honey, Walnuts, Almond Flour, Organic Coconut Oil, Coconut, Vanilla.
Ingredients are listed in order of predominance. If we take a moment and review the benefits of the individual ingredients, we can begin to formulate the functional/structural claims that could be suitable for the product packaging.
Almonds- tend to be rich in Vitamin E which support your overall health and protects your body from cell damage by fighting free radicals that enter the body through oxidative stress. Almonds also contain healthy fats that promote heart health.
If we take the positive health benefits of these ingredients that we’ve listed above, we can begin to create structural/functional claims that appeal to a wide consumer base. Here’s a few examples of appropriate claims based on the above nutrient benefits:
- Our delicious granola contains almonds which have been shown to support heart health.
- Contains honey which has naturally-occurring antibacterial properties, which positively supports digestive health.
- Contains half the DV for Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, which supports immune health! (Now this is a combination of a nutrient content claim and a structural/functional claim)
Claims to Avoid Altogether
Structural and Functional Claims on a food product label fall under the same category as supplements in regards to appropriate verbiage. Your food product must never claim to treat or cure any type of disease or dysfunction within the body. Taking the same ingredients above, these claims would be inappropriate:
- Our amazing granola has cancer-curing properties!
- Eating 3 servings of our granola each day can cure heart disease.
- This granola can improve Crohn’s disease!
The above are a bit “reaching” to say the least but we wanted to make sure that it was understood that food product claims can not cross the line into “cures” or “disease-impact” categories without meeting the qualifying criteria set forth by the FDA. But we’ll cover that next week when we dive deeper into content claims.
Want to learn more about how to get the most out of your product labeling? Register for our free Live Labeling Event and ask your questions to our team! You’ll be glad you did!