VietnamNet Bridge – The market for functional foods is in chaos. These products are advertised as wonderful remedies that can cure all kinds of diseases, even cancer. The price is also “sky high”. Many people have become victims of false advertisement.
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One would be stunned if they read the description of a functional food product named K, which can enhance men’s sexual ability, on the official website of the product provider and the public advertisement.
The product is said to help “increase the penis size,” “make men full of vitality,” “have multiple ejaculations without being tired,” “bring about endless happiness,” “make men extremely strong,” etc. But last October, this product was detected by the authorities to be over-advertised.
Another functional food product from South Korea is marketed by the local distributor as the one to “prevent and cure diabetes, hyperlipidemia, liver and biliary diseases, blood pressure, stress, and obesity, anti-malnutrition and postpartum support.”
This product is also introduced to work effectively in preventing the growth of cancer cells, supporting cancer treatment, regulating blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and atherosclerosis. The price for it is very high, VND2 million ($100)/small pack.
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, Vice chief of the Food Safety Agency of the Ministry of Health, affirms that the above advertising words are completely not allowed to appear on advertisements.
“The above-mentioned phrases and the words like “the best,” “the most effective” and “the most optimal” are never allowed to appear on advertisements. These words not only mislead the effect of functional foods but also are unsuitable to the habits and customs when they are published on the mass media,” Phong says.
The official says that during his business trips to many provinces and cities in Vietnam, he was surprised by exaggerated advertisements of functional foods on television and local newspapers. They were advertised as panacea.
This is the most popular violation in the advertisement of functional foods in Vietnam, he says.
According to statistics, about 10,000 functional food products are available in the domestic market and around 40 percent of them are imported products.
This market is developing very strongly. In the past three years, Vietnam had an additional of 1,800 companies producing and trading functional foods.
This development is said to reflect the consumption trend of a developing society with a high level of urbanization. However, the effect of functional food is still a big question.
In mid-2012, the Ministry of Health conducted the first inspection over the functional food market in the three big cities of Hanoi, Hai Phong and HCM City. The inspectors found out that the most popular violation is wrong advertising of the product effects.