EFSA confirms safety of heat-treated Bacteroides-fermented milk products


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EFSA confirms safety of Bacteroides-fermented milk products

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has confirmed the safety of heat-treated milk products fermented with Bacteroides xylanisolvens DSM 23964 - a probiotic strain not previously used in food.

The EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA Panel), at the request of the European Commission (EC), last week issued a Scientific Opinion​ on the safety of heat-treated milk products fermented with the Bacteroides xylanisolvens DSM 23964 as a novel food.

One of the most abundant Bacteroides in the human intestine, Bacteroides xylanisolvens DSM 23964 was isolated from the faeces of a health human adult.

Neither it nor any other Bacteroides strains have "a history of use in food production or consumption,"​ said the EFSA Scientific Opinion. 

Following its assessment, however, the EFSA NDA Panel concluded heat-treated milk fermented with Bacteroides xylanisolvens DSM 23964 "is safe for the proposed uses and at the proposed use levels."

"The Panel notes that the production process encompasses standard techniques used by the dairy industry and considers that it is sufficiently described by the applicant and does not give rise to safety concerns," ​the NDA Panel concluded.

To safely produce such products, Bacteroides xylanisolvens DSM 23964 is employed to ferment pasteurised or ultra-heat treated (UHT) milk.

Following fermentation, the product is heat-treated for one hour at 75C to ensure the absence of viable Bacteroides xylanisolvens DSM 23964.


In December 2012, German firm Avitop applied to the EC for novel food approval for pasteurised milk products fermented with Bacteroides xylanisolvens. 

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) forward its assessment of the concept to the EC in June 2013, in which it concluded that pasteurised milk products fermented with Bacteroides xylanisolvens “meet the criteria for acceptance of a novel food.”

This was then forward by the EC to other European Union (EU) Member States in September 2013, several of which "submitted comments or raised objections."

EFSA's Scientific Opinion will now be passed back to EU Member States for comment. 

If or when final EC approval is granted, Avitop intends to market low-fat and skimmed milk products, such as fermented milk, buttermilk, yogurt, yogurt drinks, and spray-dried yogurt powders, fermented with Bacteroides xylanisolvens DSM 23964.

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