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Danone bins EU probiotic gut health claim submissions

By Shane Starling and Lorraine Heller , 17-Apr-2009
Last updated on 20-Apr-2009 at 12:10 GMT2009-04-20T12:10:08Z

French dairy giant Danone has withdrawn the EU health claim applications for its market leading probiotic yoghurt products Activia and Actimel.

The three withdrawn Article 13.5 claims related to the digestive health and immunity benefits of the products.

Danone submitted the claims under the 2006 EU nutrition and health claim regulation. This regulation aims to formulate a centralised health claims list under the nutrition and health claims regulation that is due for completion in January, 2010.

Withdrawn claims

The withdrawn claims are:

· Improves digestive comfort (Activia)

· Improves slow transit (Activia)

· Helps to strengthen the body’s natural defences (Actimel)

The move may be in response to EFSA's “gold standard” scientific approach and potentially devastating publicity damage that can follow an EFSA negative opinion.

Some negative opinions have already been picked up by the mainstream media. In at least one case, this has put the company and the claims it has been making about popular products under the microscope and raised doubt about the product's effectiveness.

Danone is not the first major food or ingredients supplier to pull out of the European claims process. In the article 14 disease reduction and children’s claims list, something like 10 claims have been withdrawn from the likes of Nestle, Unilever and Valio as well as the Irish Dairy Council and the France-based Association of the Food Industries for Particular Nutritional Uses of the European Union (IDACE).

All these companies have decided their submissions, for whatever reason, are not up to scratch.

Danone was unavailable for comment prior to publication this morning. NutraIngredients.com will report more on this on Monday.

US 'misleading' claims case

Meanwhile, last week it emerged that Dannon, the US arm of Danone, is settling class actions mounted against it for making misleading probiotic health claims.

Dannon spokesperson, Michael Neuwirth told NutraIngredients-USA.com that “we stand by our claims and will continue to defend them” but refused to deny that Dannon was settling out-of-court in class actions that sought at least $300m.

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