Food, Health and Public Understanding on Health Claims of Functional Foods: A Case Study in Brazil


  • Márcia GRISOTTI Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brasil
  • Fernando DIAS DE AVILA-PIRES Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), Rio de Janeiro, Brasil


Brazil, functional food, health claims, health promotion, public understanding


In spite of the lack of international agreement concerning the term functional food, it represents one of the food sectors with more significant growth in global markets and at the same time one of the most controversial area situated between the food and drug boundaries. In this paper we discuss the meaning of functional foods and the impact of health promotion discourse (and healthy life) on the market and on the public perception of these products. Questionnaires, focus groups and in-depth individual interviews were applied to groups of elderly people in Florianópolis, Brazil. Trying to analyze their understanding of functional food, especially with the Brazilian Association of Cardiology seal, we found a broader perception of the role of food in the health-illness process; who guides the dietary changes, the difficulties in carrying out these changes; the strategies used to combine individual choice and experts/medical recommendations; and the public understanding of the scientific controversies and uncertainties related to food.


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