The global non-profit International Probiotics Association (IPA) and the European Dairy Association (EDA) representing the probiotic sector, are jointly asking the European Commission and stakeholders to reinforce their involvement in the definition of the current view of probiotic products in labeling and consumers’ information in Europe.
“We ask for an evaluation of the current understanding of the term ‘probiotic’ within a regulatory EU framework and the conclusive statement that a food containing probiotic microorganisms will be included on the list of nutrition claims”.
A defined food labeling to provide specific and descriptive information about probiotics is key to empower the knowledge of consumers in this food category.
Because these information are not fully available, the product communication for this category of ingredients is disfavored. Moreover, the current situation penalizes European manufacturers of probiotic foods and dietary supplements and does not meet the needs of consumers for knowledge on food products. Currently, the European Commission does not allow the use of the term “probiotic” of food products and food supplements because it is considered as an improper health claim. Furthermore, the definition of the term “probiotic” is applied differently in EU countries confusing its definition and affecting the European single market. Therefore, the member states and associations are claiming the opportunity to build a consistent and harmonized approach for the use of the term “probiotic”.
It is crucial to create a labelling environment that the consumers can trust, and which will allow the consumer to make an informed choice.
Based on the above, the joint statement aims for a revision of probiotics as a category of substances and term to be allowed on food labels as voluntary information, according to the
Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, subject to meeting specific criteria and conditions of use.
In summary, the Probiotics Association (IPA) and the European Dairy Association (EDA) are asking for the term “probiotics” to be allowed on food products and supplements and to promote awareness across consumers using the following approaches:
- applying an appropriate information and advertising
- creating a harmonized view of the term probiotics across Europe
- facing the legal burden affecting the functioning of the single probiotics’ markets counting on political support.
- Include the statement “contain probiotic microorganisms” or similar wording to the list of nutrition claims according to Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation and beyond the scope of Regulation (EC) N°1924/2006 on Foods.
Establishing a shared “probiotics” definition with minimum characterization requirements as well as quality products will promote consumers’ knowledge promoting a healthier and sustainable diet and potentially better quality of life.