How to win yoghurt health claims: “Keep it simple”

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Yoghurt can aid lactose maldigestion if it contains at least 108CFU (colony forming units)
Yoghurt can aid lactose maldigestion if it contains at least 108CFU (colony forming units)

Related tags: Nutrition

“Keeping it simple and straightforward” is the takeaway message from a new report targeting yoghurt makers in search of health claim success within the European Union’s strict new claims regime.

The report, penned by UK consultancy,, focuses on the only yoghurt claim to win a positive opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to date – linking yoghurt consumption and improved lactose digestion for those with “lactose maldigestion”.

HealthClaimsEurope notes that even though only 15 (14 human; one animal) of 43 submitted studies contained in the article 13, general function yoghurt submission were deemed pertinent, it ticked three crucial boxes that won it the positive opinion:

  • There was adequate characterisation of the food constituents
  • The health benefits were specific
  • There were targeted studies

As the most common reason for a claim failing was the first, it became apparent to us that marketing managers should screen health claims early in product development,”​ it said.

The report emphasises that it is crucial that marketing managers get involved in the health claim submission process to give input to company scientists and regulatory managers.

Early screening

“It is very clear from the table prepared for the successful claim that only a small number of clear relevant studies are required for a claim to be successful but they do need to be directly relevant,”​ the report states.

“It is also clear that non-scientists are able to review a table like this to screen out non-studies or studies that are off-the-point.”

“We recommend that marketing managers ask for studies to be laid out in a table early in product development and screen-out studies that are insufficiently concrete, insufficiently specific and above all, not pertinent to our health claim.”

“Once early screening has established that a health claim is likely to succeed at EFSA, then it is worthwhile proceeding to product positioning.”

The successful yoghurt claim stated: “Live yoghurt cultures in yoghurt improve digestion of lactose in yoghurt in individuals with lactose maldigestion”

But EFSA's Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) added: "In order to bear the claim, the yoghurt should contain at least 108CFU [colony forming units] per serving live starter microorganisms (i.e. Lactobacillus delbrueckii​ subsp. bulgaricus ​andStreptococcus thermophilus​)."

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