With health and functional foods getting increasingly popular, consumers are reporting more adverse reactions to such products, a lawmaker said Friday. He warned that people should be fully aware that functional foods cannot cure or prevent a disease.
Rep. Yoon Jong-pil of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party said he analyzed the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’s data on health and functional foods.
According to Yoon, the size of the functional foods market grew rapidly from 1.4 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in 2013 to 2.2 trillion won in 2017. More than 15,000 functional foods have been approved to date.
With the market expansion, the number of reported adverse reactions to functional foods has been picking up by six times from 139 in 2013 to 874 in 2017. The figure has steadily risen every year except for in 2014 when the government revealed that most of the functional foods using “baeksuo” (cynanchum wilfordii) extracts did not contain the medicinal root.
Nutritional supplements such as vitamins had the most frequently reported cases of adverse reactions with 966 reports, followed by lactic acid bacteria (probiotics) with 801 cases, garcinia canbogia extracts with 318 instances, DHA/EPA containing products (Omega 3) with 309 cases, and red ginseng goods with 224 occurrences.
“Health and functional foods help people maintain and improve health by activating physiological functions. However, people often misunderstand that they can cure or prevent a disease,” Yoon said. “The government should raise awareness to help the public recognize the effectiveness of functional foods accurately, and check the safety of functional foods thoroughly.”
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