Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Probiotic drinks under scrutiny

A panel of scientists at the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has dismissed a range of health claims made by manufacturers of so-called "probiotic" yoghurts and drinks.
The opinion delivered by the EFSA was part of a wider study of over 4,000 'general function' claims submitted by EU member states. While only about 500 claims have been studied in this batch, the rest are still being evaluated.
A 'general function' claim is a claim made about a particular food product which suggests that it can aid growth, development or function of the body or make you less hungry so that you will eat less, etc. Basically, its the sort of claim made about products that says, 'Eat this and you'll get thin', or 'Eat this and you'll never get a cold or runny nose again'.
Of the 523 claims made about a variety of food components, including probiotic bacteria, one third were upheld as there was a sufficient amount and quality of scientific evidence to back up the claims.
Of the remaining two thirds which were not upheld, over 50% were rejected owing to a lack of information on the substance on which the claim was based.
180 claims made for probiotic cultures were assessed by the panel, with ten claims being rejected outright and the remainder falling into the category where not enough evidence had been provided to support the claims.
Prof. Albert Flynn of the EFSA commented:"EFSA’s independent scientific advice will help ensure that the health claims made on foods are accurate and helpful to consumers in making healthy diet choices. The scientific opinions will inform future decisions of the Commission and Member States concerning the authorisation of health claims”.
As these were "general function" claims, the next phase will be to assess specific claims made and submitted by manufacturers such as Yakult and Danone about specific strains of probiotic bacteria. A spokesperson for Yakult said: "Yakult has submitted claims for Lactobacillus casei Shirota, a well characterised probiotic strain unique to Yakult. Evidence for its health benefit is based on over 70 human studies and over 70 years of research."
Incidentally, and for a bit of fun, you can generate your own probiotic culture name by following the link below and inserting your last name. Enjoy!


  © Communicate Science; Blogger template 'Isolation' by 2012

Back to TOP