The concept of functional foods has evolved as the role of food in the maintenance of health and well-being and in the prevention of disease has received increased scientific and commercial interest. The concept first came to light in Japan in the mid-1980s when an ageing population and rising health care costs led the Ministry of Health and Welfare to initiate the regulatory approval of functional foods (Swinbanks and O’Brien 1993). These foods are now officially recognized as foods for specified health use or FOSHU. In Europe, the International Life Sciences Institute has defined functional foods as foods that, by virtue of the presence of physiologically active components, provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition (Diplock et al. 1999; Salminen et al. 1998). In the U.S., the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act does not provide a statutory definition of functional foods. However, the American Dietetic Association has stated that functional foods can include those foods that are whole, fortified, enriched or enhanced, while neutraceuticals are isolated components that can then be incorporated into foods to enhance health at

levels not usually obtainable from normal foods (Ross 2000). In general, it is accepted that a functional food provides a health benefit that goes beyond a general nutritional benefit.