Probiotic yoghurt drinks full of “good bacteria” have become a popular choice for those looking to stay healthy, but now EU scientists have dismissed the manufacturers claims. The announcement could result in tighter laws on the benefits food companies are permitted to advertise.
The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) examined and rejected 180 health claims for probiotic ingredients. Ten were dismissed outright, and the other 170 were said to be unproven due to lack of evidence. These claims do not include the two biggest probiotic companies, Actimal and Yakult. They withdrew their claims from the analysis, to be resubmitted at a later date.
EFSA’s review follows an EU law in 2006 which made it a requirement for all medical-sounding marketing claims to be verified scientifically. No products or marketing will have to change straight away, but the European Commission will eventually create new legislation to be voted on by member states.
Chair of the EFSA science panel Albert Flynn stressed the importance of giving consumers accurate information about the products they buy:
“It’s been an issue for some time that general health claims are made about these products using the family name for the active ingredient and not saying which member of the family is in the pot.
“We expect the claims that will come now from the companies will be much more specific.”