False claims still blighting Indonesia’s functional food sector despite tighter rules

Indonesia's regulator wants food with health claims backed by scientific evidence.

Misleading health claims are still rife in Indonesia despite tighter functional food rules, claims a new association set up to ‘professionalise the industry’.

Last year, Indonesia’s National Agency of Drug and Food (BPOM) announced that before a functional food with health claims is approved for the local market, its manufacturers must make sure all health claims have scientifically-proven evidence, including papers published in journals.

According to the Head of Indonesian NADFC Regulation No. 13 Year 2016 on The Control of Claim on Processed Food Labelling and Advertisement, foods with a health or nutrition claim needs to be scientifically proven.

However, Professor Dr C Hanny Wijaya, ISFFN chairman, said it was too early to assess how BPOM’s stricter rules were affecting Indonesia’s functional food industry.

ISFFN is holding its first conference for members, who are mostly producers of functional food products, at this week’s Health Ingredients South East Asia show, in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Prof Wijaya said the ISFFN was more worried about making sure that the local market had adequate information about the functional foods being produced locally or currently being sold, as some unscrupulous manufacturers were making false claims about their products.

“We have traditional remedies such as Jamu, for example, but there are people spreading misleading claims about this remedy,” she said.

“Consumers who lack knowledge about functional foods are not very logical when it comes to making choices, they would just believe this claim or that.”

Thus, ISFFN said while the government was working to implement tighter regulations to ensure functional food efficacy and safety, the organisation’s biggest job was to ‘professionalise’ Indonesia’s functional food industry.

“This is why we need to empower both the producers and the consumers to understand the scientific data behind functional foods,” Prof Wijaya said.

“Then we would be able to produce functional food products that more educated and empowered consumers would buy.”

With these conditions in place, Indonesia’s functional food market will grow, with local products confidently offered in international markets, she added,

“We are not worried about the regulation, what we are worried about is how to empower people, whether they be functional food producers or functional food consumers,” Prof Wijaya concluded.

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