Yoghurt makers lobby to save 'probiotic' on labels
Yoghurt producers are staging an 11th-hour attempt to stop a ban on the term ‘probiotic’ ahead of new EU health claims legislation coming in next month.
From 14 December, suppliers and manufacturers will be allowed to use only 222 pre-approved general health claims - known as Article 13 health claims - to describe their products. ‘Probiotic’ is not one of the terms approved by the EU and so must no longer be used once the new rules are in force.
Yoghurt manufacturers - who have used ‘probiotic’ extensively on packs but now face major changes to their packaging and marketing - are furious at their inability to use the term in future. Their European trade body, the Yoghurt and Live Fermented Milks Association, which counts Danone, Yakult and Yoplait among its members, is pushing to have ‘probiotic’ recognised as a so-called general descriptor under Article 1(4) of the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, which governs the EU health claims regime.
Under EU law, a general descriptor is a term “used to indicate a particularity of a class of foods or beverages which could imply an effect on human health”, but which is not a health claim.
The UK’s PTF is supporting the YLFA’s efforts to have ‘probiotic’ recognised as a general descriptor. Dairy UK said it also backed the cause but was not directly involved in the YLFA’s lobbying efforts.
If the YLFA is successful, ‘probiotic’ would still disappear in December but could return to packs as early as June 2013.
Danone has warned in the past that the new EU health claim rules threaten to make the entire probiotic yoghurt category “disappear”.
Müller’s UK and Republic of Ireland Vitality yoghurts currently carry the ‘probiotic’ tag but the company said it was reviewing its packaging.