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Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals
FNH 402
Section: TBA
Instructor: Dr. Jerzy Zawistowski
Phone: 604-822-9449
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:


The objectives of this course are to provide students with an overview of the field of functional foods, nutraceuticals and natural health products. The course enables students to understand the functional food concept as related to ingredient efficacy and safety. In addition, it familiarizes students with: examples of bioactive ingredient-disease relationships and the importance of clinical study support; regulatory aspects of functional foods; and requirements for standards of evidence of efficacy for health claims; and market determinants of the functional food industry.


The increasing amount of scientific evidence, which has linked specific food constituents derived from plant, animal and marine sources with the risk reduction of chronic diseases has sparked consumer interest in functional foods. Therefore, the functional food and nutraceutical industry is the fastest-growing category in the food market today. Consumers are actively looking for foods with health benefits that may provide risk reduction for certain chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and others in addition to their nutritional value.
It is important that students in this course become familiar with the bioactive components of foods that can be utilized for adjusting conditions of the human body’s homeostasis that will regulate health and wellness. This course will also teach students about standards of efficacy and safety for health claims and regulatory and marketing issues.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completing this course, the student will be able to:

  • describe components of nutraceutical and functional foods
  • evaluate the standards of evidence required for efficacy and safety assessment of nutraceutical and functional foods
  • evaluate and compare the regulatory and efficacy-claim controls in North America, Europe and Asia
  • explain the regulatory framework required in North America for substantiated health claims
  • work effectively as a group member on a specific problem related to functional foods and nutraceutical products
  • present ideas and concepts on issues of functional foods and nutraceuticals, both verbally and in written form, to a larger audience

Course Format

The course will include lectures, student assignments: group presentations and research papers. Lectures, presentations and papers as well as additional materials will be posted on the FNH 402 Connect website.


Midterm exam: 25%
Group oral projects: 15%
Group research paper: 20%
Final exam: 40%

Course Outline


  • Definition of the functional food, nutraceuticals, dietary supplements and natural health products with the focus on the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan
  • Criteria that discriminate between conventional and functional foods
  • Foods, health promotion and disease prevention
  • Market for functional foods and factors driving they growth
  • Challenges for marketers at the food-drug interface; market readiness, market barriers and distribution


  • Japan - Foods of Special Health Use (FOSHU)
  • European Union - Novel Food Regulations
  • USA - GRAS notification, Nutrition Labelling and Education Act (NLEA), Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA)
  • Canada – Novel Food Regulations, Natural Health Products regulations
  • Health Claims: Disease Risk Reduction Claims, Structure/Function Claims


  • Examples of bioactive ingredients and metabolic basis for nutrient-disease relationships
  • Major chronic diseases and bioactives used for risk reduction
  • Dietary fiber (soluble fiber, beta-glucan etc.) – sources, chemical structure, metabolic aspects and coronary heart disease (CHD), diabetes
  • Probiotic, Prebiotic - sources, efficacy and health benefits (e.g. gut health), safety, foods versus dietary supplements
  • Phytochemicals: plant sterols – commercial sources, efficacy, mechanism of action, heart health and other health benefits, safety, regulatory and commercial products
  • Other phytochemicals: carotenoids, flavonoids, tea catechins – metabolic aspects, CHD and risk reduction of other disease
  • Functional lipids – long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (e.g. omega-3), medium chain triglycerides, structured lipids, conjugated linolenic acid, metabolic aspects, obesity, CHD
  • Metabolic aspects of Soy, bioactives and properties
  • Other bioactive ingredients


  • Safety concerns for active ingredients
  • Interaction with food constituents
  • Effect of processing
  • Dietary Exposure
  • Safety assessment: nutritional and toxicological
  • Efficacy assessment and importance of efficacy evidence


  • Type of clinical studies, meta-analysis
  • Convincing versus insufficient evidence
  • Biomarkers and food matrix

Suggested References

Saarela M. 2011. Functional Foods: Concept to Product. 2nd edition. Oxford, Cambridge. Woodhead Publishing Ltd
Bagchi D. 2014. Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods Regulations in the United States and Around the World 2nd edition. Elsevier.
Schmidl MK and Labuza TP. 2000. Essentials of Functional Foods, Functional Foods and Nutraceutical series. Technomic Publishing Co., Inc.
Zawistowski J. 2010. Tangible Health Benefits of Phytosterol Functional Foods. J. Smith and E. Charter (Eds) In: Functional Food Product Development. Wiley- Blackwell.
Zawistowski J and Kitts DD. 2004. Functional Foods – A New Step in the Evolution of Food Development. Clinical Nutrition Rounds. 4:1-6.

References Journals (optional)

Nutraceuticals World, Journal of Nutraceuticals; J. Food Science; Food Technology, Nutraceuticals International (UK), Functional Foods (UK)

Policy on Plagiarism (quote from University calendar)

“Plagiarism, which is intellectual theft, occurs where an individual submits or presents the oral or written work of another person as his or her own. Scholarship quite properly rests upon examining and referring to the thoughts and writings of others. However, when another person's words (i.e. phrases, sentences, or paragraphs), ideas, or entire works are used, the author must be acknowledged in the text, in footnotes, in endnotes, or in another accepted form of academic citation. Where direct quotations are made, they must be clearly delineated (for example, within quotation marks or separately indented). Failure to provide proper attribution is plagiarism because it represents someone else's work as one's own. Plagiarism should not occur in submitted drafts or final works. A student who seeks assistance from a tutor or other scholastic aids must ensure that the work submitted is the student's own. Students are responsible for ensuring that any work submitted does not constitute plagiarism. Students who are in any doubt as to what constitutes plagiarism should consult their instructor before handing in any assignments.”

Group Assignments

Students will be assigned to a group and work together to prepare a presentation and research paper. There will be eight groups (see the course Connect website). Each group will choose a different topic from the list provided during the course.

Group presentations

The PowerPoint presentation should address a chosen topic with a scientific approach targeting an audience that understands the area of functional foods. The presentation should not exceed more than 20 slides. PowerPoint presentations should be recorded using a video lecture launcher (see the video lectures section) and place in the video lectures section. Slides should be also converted into PDF format (one slide per page) and uploaded as a file: group no_short title_FNH 402.pdf to the course Connect website (folder: Group Presentations).

Group research papers

The paper should not exceed five to six double-spaced pages (about 1500 words, use Times New Roman 12 fonts). This paper should be written in the form of a scientific paper including title, group number, names, student contacts, abstract, introduction, text, conclusion and reference list. References and visual materials (Tables, graphs, pictures) are not accounted for the length of the paper. Please refer to Journal of Food Science style guide, review manuscripts education/jfse-author-guidelines-2013.aspx Upload research papers as a file: group no_short title_FNH 402.docx (or .doc) to the course Connect website (folder: Paper).

Self-evaluation Form

Using a scale from 0 to 1.00 evaluate the work of other students in your team (Table below). Your evaluation should reflect participation, quality, accuracy and completion of the assignments.

FNH 402 Self-evaluation (0-1.00)

File:FNH 402 Self-evaluation.pdf