Yakult Europe’s Dutch-based communications manager, Jan-Albert Blaauw said EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) had requested further “technical” information for its dossier, which Yakult had provided.
The article 13.5 dossier is based on the Lactobacillus casei strain, Shirota.
Blaauw acknowledged it is a sensitive time for the probiotics industry with the NDA yet to issue a positive opinion for any probiotic strain or product.
“Of course this procedure is a learning process, as was also pointed out previously by EFSA, but we are confident to proceed with our dossier,” he observed.
He said the company had been closely monitoring the opinions that have been issued so far and is confident its dossier will stand up to NDA scrutiny.
“The claim is supported by well- designed, double-blind, placebo-controlled human studies and other supporting data,” Blaauw said. “We are in dialogue with EFSA concerning our claim.”
Yakult’s dossier contains suggested claim wording based around immune health associations.
“The final wording of the claim is still to be decided by the European authorities, but the dossier of Yakult relates to the maintenance of immune defences relevant for the upper respiratory tract.”
Marketing on the Yakult UK website states: “Drinking one bottle of Yakult daily can help keep your gut healthy and a healthy gut also means stronger natural defences.”
Blaauw said the company had been encouraged by feedback given at the recent EFSA-hosted stakeholder’s meeting in Parma, Italy, and would attend the gut health workshop that was slated for later this year.
Yakult is often cited as the originator of functional foods when it began selling probiotic yoghurt in little bottles in the 1950s, after Yakult’s founding father Dr Minoru Shirota isolated and researched the strain at Kyoto Imperial University School of Medicine.