The newly formed Global Alliance for Probiotics (GAP) has issued its first public statement, affirming that a complete rethink of probiotic health claim rules is required in the European Union, and forwarding industry rights to take part in that process.
GAP seeks dialogue with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Commission, member states and other stakeholders to discuss how it is that more than 7500 individual pieces of probiotic research have translated into more than 300 gut-immunity health claim rejections and not a single approval from EFSA.
In an email to NutraIngredients newly elected GAP chairman, Valio VP in R&D, Ross Crittenden, said better guidelines were an emphasis for the 7-member group that includes Danone, Yakult, Chr Hansen and DuPont-Danisco.
“There is clearly a discord between the amount and quality of clinical science literature to support the benefits of probiotics and the absence of successful claim applications,” Crittenden said.
“We are seeking a dialogue because we believe that we can contribute to the development of better guidelines for the evaluation of probiotic claims.”
“GAP has a strong science focus and is currently evaluating probiotic clinical evidence in different health areas with the help of world-leading experts in meta-analyses.”
While obviously unhappy their industry, and the science that backs it, has to-date been unable to impress EFSA’s health claims panel, the statement affirmed the group’s support of the 2006 nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).
“GAP supports the NHCR and its objectives and is fully committed to working within its framework,” it said.
“GAP seeks recognition of the benefits of selected microorganisms based on generally accepted scientific evidence.”
It noted, “the benefits of probiotics have previously been recognised by health authorities in individual member states of the EU and around the world, based on the solid data base of relevant peer reviewed scientific publications.”
“During the last 20 years alone, more than 7500 papers have been published on probiotics, as listed on PubMed. Moreover, the EU Commission itself has contributed more than €70 million of research funding to related topics.”
“Clearly, a way forward is needed, as many probiotics provide a benefit even though claims on them have not yet received a positive assessment from EFSA. GAP seeks to work constructively with EFSA, the European Commission, member states and all relevant parties to find a viable solution.”
It said better guidelines may allow claims to be submitted relating to, “individual strains, manufactured products, a group of strains or a specific category of probiotics.”
The group’s other existing members are Canadian firm Institut Rosell Lallemand and Swedish supplier Probi. It is open to new members.