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What is a health claim?

Health claims demonstrate a relationship between a specific nutrient in a food and prevention of a particular disease or health related condition.

Which health claims are not allowed on food labels?

Claims that say they can cure, manage, or treat a disease are not allowed on food labels. This is why health claims on food labels include words such as “may” or “might” and only talk about the ability to potentially reduce the risk of a specific disease or condition. All health claims must be approved by the FDA prior to being on a food label.

Which health claims are allowed on food labels?

Health claims are approved by the FDA as long as there is a significant scientific agreement among qualified experts that there is evidence for a substance and its ability to reduce the risk of a certain disease or health condition. Examples of health claims include diets that are high in fiber and low in fat may reduce the risk of cancer, or diets low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Health claims have very strict requirements and cannot be diagnostic in nature. This is why health claims use words such as “may” or “might” and cannot make promises to cure or treat a disease.

How are health claims approved?

Health claims are evaluated and approved by the FDA. The FDA looks at the scientific evidence from well-designed research studies and evaluates for a significant relationship between a health claim for a substance and disease relationship.

Learn more about Health Claims:

Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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