IPA optimistic about allowance of the term "probiotic"
In the European Union there is a EU-wide legal framework that defines the food supplement category “probiotic” does not exist. Guidelines to assess when a strain can be considered probiotic or a list of strains with a probiotic status, are missing. Moreover, since December 14, 2012, the term probiotic is not even allowed in some European countries on the label of probiotic products. This ban is the result of the interpretation of the 2007 European Commission Guidance on the implementation of the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR). These guidelines consider the words “contains probiotics” to be a health claim. Since probiotic effects are strain-specific, health benefits for probiotics cannot be derived from the whole category of probiotics but only form individual micro-organisms. So far, no single-probiotic strain, or multi-species combinations, have been granted a health claim by EFSA. At a national level, there are exceptions on these guidelines, creating discrepancies and confusion between countries.
The International Probiotic Association
One of the key objectives of the International Probiotics Association is to break the EU ban for using the term probiotic. At the moment, they are working on a new set of guidelines for use of the term probiotic. There is a fair chance that the European Commission will accept these guidelines. One of the conditions for using the term probiotics will be that the strain, or combinations of strains, has shown a health benefit in a clinical trial. More information on these guidelines and whether or not, they are accepted by the EU Commission, will be published soon on IPA’s website.
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