There has been an increasing concern over the everyday diet and health of people in Japan. This is especially true for those who are over 30 and are health-conscious. With the many varieties of foods and drinks available on the shelves of Japanese convenience stores, it is quite hard to tell which are effective and whose claims are legitimate. As a result, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare came up with an idea to identify healthy food and drinks by adding the “tokuho” label on them. Find out all about it here!
“Tokuho” is a shortened term for “tokutei hoken-yo shokuhin.” The practice of attaching this label on different food and drinks in Japan began in 1991 with the aim of easing the rising health care cost in the country.
The granting of the tokuho status to several products has been constantly increasing. It reached its peak in 2007 but declined in 2011, which can be partly attributed to the financial crisis that Japan experienced in 2008.
The Consumer Affairs Agency then set new rules for tokuho recognition which initiated the development of other tokuho products. The system allowed consumers to know the health benefits and effects of certain food and drinks.
Food and drinks with the tokuho label are generally more expensive than non-tokuho products. The reason for this lies in the lengthy process that is being followed in order to gain the status. Experimentation is required such as testing the products on individual consumers. The harmful effects of overconsumption are also gauged in order to know how far the products can be consumed. It is very important for the product to have a FOSHU (Food for Specified Health Uses) approval. Items with this label mean that they contain ingredients that function for health and are officially approved to claim their physiological effects on the human body.
Among the popular tokuho drinks you can find in Japan are Healthya, Black Oolong Tea, and Goma Mugicha.
Since the approval process is very costly, only big companies venture into getting tokuho labels. Some companies are hesitant to undergo the process as they can actually get turned down after the hurdle. However, obtaining the label is one sure way to attract more consumers into purchasing the product.
There are many research and development being done in order to come up with the best possible way to label items as truly beneficial to people’s health. As the number of these items is generally increasing, it has become a necessity to put official labels on those that are actually proven to function based on their claims. If you’re conscious about the food and drinks that you buy in Japan, go and check if they have the tokuho label to make sure you are getting the health benefits you are promised.