FIGURE 7-1 A key distinction between the food and pharmaceutical industries is that the food industry targets healthy people and people at risk, and the pharmaceutical industry treats unhealthy people. The green arrow represents a desired shift toward health where food can play an important role.
SOURCE: Green and van der Ouderaa, 2003.

responded, “I know all scientists are searching for the truth, and I agree with that goal and that motivation.” Yet, the current regulatory environment demands that the “truth” be interpreted in a certain way. Craig added that if a study is conducted on a population of individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, for example, but the food industry cannot communicate that information to consumers, then the information is “stuck.” He went on: “If it is great research, but it cannot translate to public health … what value does it truly have?”

Changing the legal regulatory framework for food claims would entail a tremendous challenge. Seppo Salminen commented on the situation in the European Union (EU), where changing regulation would require influencing several hundred EU Members of Parliament. Clydesdale opined that in the United States, he would rather make a recommendation to NIH to “tackle the science” than try to influence Congress. He clarified, “I don’t think that there is anyone in the room who would disagree with the fact that we should start talking about it,” but he warned not to expect changes in the near future. Craig expressed concern that industry will lose interest if action is not taken. He said that someone needs to start the conversation and “charge forward, instead of just reacting…. It might take 5 or 10 years. Fine. We are in it for the long haul.”

So who could start the conversation? An audience member asked whether there were any mechanisms in place to help. For example, what is

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