The Yoghurt and Live Fermented Milks Association (YLFA) said it welcomed the first batch of generic article 13.1 claims that included 181 probiotic dossiers, all of which failed to impress EFSA scientists.
But EFSA produced negative opinions on the mainly gut health benefits of only ten of those dossiers, with another 171 not adjudicated on because the probiotic strains in question were deemed not be sufficiently characterised. The YLFA said it had learnt much from EFSA’s opinions.
“YLFA members will work closely with their partners and with EFSA in order to reduce the ‘technical’ obstacles of these dossiers and allow scientists to continue their research in evaluating the benefits of yoghurts, live fermented milks and probiotics yoghurt and drinks,” the group said.
“YLFA is fully aware that the matter is new and complex and that all stakeholders involved are still in the learning phase,” it added.
“Many lessons have to be drawn from the publication of the first batch of opinions. One of these is that most of the claims regarding probiotics were rejected because the strains were not sufficiently characterised and consequently the evaluation of the cause-effect relationship between the consumption of the microorganisms / combination of microorganisms and their claimed effect was not achieved.”
It said it was now up to companies to go away and refine their scientific arguments in the form of re-submitted dossiers and emphasised the large number of studies that backed varying benefits of probiotic strains.
“YLFA therefore trust in EFSA to allow the applicants to provide further data on strain characterisation in order to proceed with the health relationship assessment rather than ruling out probiotic claims.
YLFA has only six members: Danone, Yakult, General Mills-owned Yoplait, Lactalis-Nestlé, Danisco and Chr Hansen.
They said they supported the general thrust of the EU nutrition and health claims legislation.
“EFSA’s review represents a first batch of an important and valuable body of work that will help the European Commission and Member States to implement its regulation on nutrition and health claims. This concurs with YLFA’s members, who support all measures improving the confidence on the consistency of all health claims for probiotics.”