Eating healthy foods has always made sense. But do you really want to trust that cookie to prevent a heart attack? Well, that's what companies like Nestle and other giant food conglomerates are hoping.
In fact, Nestle, which just happens to be the largest food company in the world, has created the Nestle Science S.A. and the Nestle Institute of Health Science to find cost effective ways to prevent and treat acute and chronic diseases.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been investigating food companies that claim their foods are as good as drugs when it comes to treating or preventing certain illnesses like diabetes, or cardiovascular disease, even Alzheimer's.
Nestle says it's still going ahead with developing foods designed to prevent and treat such health conditions and plans to market them as medicine.
This is giving the FDA acid reflux.
Last month the FDA sued a pomegranate juice marketer for pushing something called POM Wonderful. It's marketed by the billionaire couple that also sells Fiji Water. The FDA sued over what it called deceptive advertising by claiming POM juice will treat or prevent heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. Hmmm. No wonder it's hard to find.
The company's limp (pardon the pun) defense? Freedom of speech. While not actually calling POM medicine, it makes scientific claims such as "new research offers further proof of the health-healthy benefits of POM Wonderful juice." Or POM leads to "a 30% decrease in arterial plaque." Ads promise that POM would help consumers "cheat death," by drinking "health in a bottle."
The FTC says such claims are "false and unsubstantiated" to which POM responded by saying POM is a food not a drug and that all we do is share the results of published scientific research and make clear that these studies, while promising, are also preliminary.
Companies like Nestle, Kraft, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, and General Mills have also been known to take advantage of the often misunderstood regulations allowing food to be marketed as medicine with seemingly exaggerated health claims. This could soon change and the FDA has increased its enforcement somewhat. The problem remains an absence of federal laws, regulations, and enforcement policies prohibiting such claims.
Meanwhile, what about those so-called functional foods? We're talking about power bars, and Gatorade, now known just "G." This is a $27 billion market and that it's growing 4% a year. The category could ultimately make up a fifth of the entire food market, according to Price Waterhouse. But then they don't make outrageous claims either.
Did anyone ever get sued for promising that if you ate an apple a day you'd keep the doctor away?