Yoghurt group cautiously optimistic on EFSA’s probiotic approach

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Efsa, Bacteria, European food safety authority

A group representing some of the key players in the probiotic world has welcomed certain commitments made by the European Food Safety Authority, saying these will help open up the road to clearer communication on health claims.

The Yoghurt & Live Fermented Milks Association (YLFA) said last week’s health claims summit, hosted by EFSA at its Parma headquarters, was a “positive step in the direction of increased dialogue”.

The meeting, it said, “reflects that EFSA has indeed taken into account the many ongoing concerns of the food industry, particularly questions related to probiotic claims”.

The optimistic stance was not shared by all attendees at the stakeholder meeting, with many of the 400-or-so industry representatives that had gathered in Parma leaving without the additional clarity they had sought in EFSA’s health claims approach.

Increased dialogue

However, YLFA said this is the start to better communication, welcoming EFSA’s decision to provide further guidance on accepted biomarkers, as well as the commitment to hold a series of technical workshops.

“These two decisions are a positive step in the direction of increased dialogue, improved communication and especially a more efficient way of working together that will finally be advantageous to the consumer,”​ said YLFA.

The first in the series of workshops to be held by EFSA will explore immune and gut health claims, and is expected to take place in the autumn of this year. Other workshops in the series will cover topics such as antioxidants, satiety and mental function.

Characterisation, pathogens

Other attendees at last week’s meeting also appeared optimistic about EFSA’s approach in regard to probiotics, which have so far suffered a string of rejections in the health claims process.

Alwine Kardinaal, consultant in nutrition and health and head of clinical trials at Dutch firm TNO, welcomed discussion about a potential list of pathogenic bacteria that may be published soon and may assist in probiotic dossiers, along with suggestions that rejected probiotic claims can be resubmitted with updated characterisation data.

“We were hoping to hear more about article 13.1 procedures and to know more about the detailed criteria the NDA is working with in certain areas but which has not yet been published. But there was some good information about study design and the submission of claims.”

For more coverage on EFSA’s technical meeting, click here​.

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