Activia and Actimel maker Danone Dairy has appointed Bruno Fromage as the new managing director of its UK operation.

The aptly named Fromage is currently managing director for Danone Dairy Portugal and will take up his new role on 1 November.

Fromage will replace current Danone Dairy UK MD Marnix Eikenboom, who is to become VP Americas and northern Europe for Danone baby nutrition. Eikenboom joined Danone Dairy UK as managing director in October 2006, succeeding Marc Gosselin.

Eikenboom said:  "I've thoroughly enjoyed my four years here. It is a ­dynamic and interesting market in which to ­operate."

Fromage has worked for the Danone Group since 1983 in a range of managerial roles. "I am delighted to be moving to the UK," he said. "It is an exciting market with huge potential."

There was still a major opportunity for growth here, he said, as UK consumers ate and drank fewer yoghurt products than people in other European countries. Also, the role that probiotics could play in health was less understood. "I look forward to working to further improve Danone's position in both areas," he said.

One of his first tasks will be to deal with the fallout from this week's ruling by the European Food Safety Authority on probiotic health claims used by food manufacturers.

As part of its ongoing work on the validity of thousands of health claims, EFSA declared the evidence the food and drink industry submitted to support claims that various food ­additives could strengthen the body's defences and improve its immune functions were either too general and thus inadmissible or simply failed to prove they had the claimed effect.

Danone voluntarily withdrew requests for approval of its health claims for Activia and Actimel in April, claiming it was waiting for more clarification from EFSA. This week's ruling suggests food companies will have to offer considerably more evidence to persuade EFSA of the ­merits of their claims.