EU: EFSA casts doubt on probiotic health claims

By | 20 October 2010

EFSA said Yakults claims of protection against common cold were wrong

EFSA said Yakult's claims of protection against common cold were wrong

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has expressed doubt about the effectiveness of probiotic drinks and yoghurts in aiding consumers' digestion.

In a series of opinions published yesterday (19 October), EFSA assessed more than 800 health claims from food companies. The claims included assertions that probiotic bacteria strains boost the immune system and reduce gut problems.

However, EFSA's independent panel of scientists found no "cause and effect relationship" had been established between the consumption of the strains Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus plantarum in maintaining immune defences.

In a separate ruling, the panel examined a dossier of 12 studies submitted by Yakult for its own strain of probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus casei shirota. The panel found that all were "inadequate" to support the company's claim that its products maintained immune defences against the common cold.

The opinions are the latest in a series of rulings by EFSA, which has already published five opinions on claims relating to probiotics.

In October last year, a number of health claims for 'probiotic' drinks and yoghurts were rejected by Europe's food safety watchdog in its first assessment.

Since then, the EU has rejected Danone's claim that immunofortis, an ingredient added to its baby formula products, strengthens babies' immune systems. Danone also withdrew two scientific health benefit claims for its Activia and Actimel products months later.

EFSA said it is organising a series of consultations on specific topics to provide additional guidance to applicants, the first of which will be held on 2 December 2010. It will focus on health claims related to gut and immune functions.

It will finalise the evaluations of all 'general function' health claims by the end of June 2011.

Sectors: Advertising & labelling, Dairy, Health & wellness, NPD & innovation

Companies: Danone, Yakult

View next/previous articles

Currently reading -

EU: EFSA casts doubt on probiotic health claims

There are currently no comments on this article

Be the first to comment on this article

Related articles

Editor's choice: the highlights on just-food this week

Flowers Foods, Supervalu Inc and Kraft Foods gave the top just-food headlines a distinctly American flavour this week. Flowers struck a deal to buy Tasty Baking, Supervalu, one of the largest grocers in the US, announced its annual results and Kraft said it was giving some of its smaller brands a marketing push. On this side of the pond, issues of reformulation and functional foods remained high on the industry's agenda. Click on on the headlines to find out more.

Quote, unquote: just-food's week in words

Innovation and reformulation seemed to be a common theme this week, with PepsiCo outlining concerns that it might meet their targets, while Baxters said people are getting increasingly confused about the information they are given. Meanwhile, Carrefour and Supervalu's latest batch of results recieved a mixed response. Here's the best of what was said this week:

On the money: Danone to cut more Unimilk SKUs

French dairy group Danone said today that it will continue to reduce the number of SKUs in its recently-acquired Russian Unimilk division.

Welcome to the home of food information, insight & intelligence

Not a member? Join here

Decrease font sizeDecrease font sizeDecrease font size Increase font sizeIncrease font sizeIncrease font size Comment on this article Email this to a friend Print this page