What are Medical Foods?

The term “Medical Food” is defined by federal law. In order to be a medical food, the product must meet certain criteria defined by the law. Generally speaking, Medical Foods are products that are used under the supervision of a physician and that are designed and intended for the dietary management of specific diseases or conditions that cannot be managed simply with the modification of a normal diet.

Medical Foods are specially formulated products, some of which may be designed to help manage very specific diseases or conditions, when the distinctive nutritional needs of the patient cannot be met with regular foods alone. For example, certain products may be specifically formulated to address the nutritional needs of patients with renal disease or a specific gastrointestinal impairment. To be a medical food, the product must address the dietary requirements created by certain diseases or conditions, in order to allow patients to receive the nutrients they need to help manage their conditions. As should be clear, the term “Medical Foods” does not include all foods fed to sick patients or all foods that may be recommended by a physician.

Medical foods may be consumed orally or via a feeding tube, also known as enteral nutrition. As you review the products on this website, please be careful to note whether oral consumption is recommended or whether it is primarily used for tube feeding.

Importantly, Medical Foods should be used under the supervision or direction of a physician. Medical Foods are not intended to treat, cure, prevent, mitigate or have a direct impact on disease in a manner similar to drugs or other medical treatments. Ask your physician whether a Medical Food is recommended for the dietary management of a disease or condition you have.