Suppliers of probiotic products were left with more questions than answers over their use of health claims for products after a meeting with European scientists last week.

The European Food Safety Authority workshop on health claims relating to gut health and immunity was set up to give suppliers a clearer picture of the evidence they would need to submit in order to have claims verified.

However, suppliers were not given much hope of a speedy resolution, said Connie Hersch, Danone UK director for health affairs. "We were told we need to be clear and precise about the claims we are making. However the guidelines we have to follow are not clear and precise."

At the meeting suppliers asked for individual pre-submission meetings with EFSA to help. The authority said it lacked the resources to do so.

EFSA has until the end of June to publish its final findings on all health claims apart from botanicals. The European Commission will then follow up with legislation.

Danone withdrew its application for claims relating to its Actimel and Activia brands in April and Hersch indicated it was unlikely to be resubmitting them in the near future.

Read more
EFSA leaves door open to claims for probiotics (1 November 2010)
How health claims went sour (analysis; 10 July 2010)