EFSA to webcast gut/immune function workshop

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gut health, Immune system

EFSA's gut/immune health workshop will be webcast live
EFSA's gut/immune health workshop will be webcast live
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has announced that its gut health and immunity workshop to be held in Amsterdam on December 2 will be webcast live.

Attendance at the one-day meeting is restricted to about 100 people, with those wishing to participate able to sign up here.​ Registration closes on Friday, October 22.

EFSA said the gut health and immunity workshop would feature discussion on two specific issues:

  • Which claimed effects are beneficial physiological effects?
  • Which studies/outcome measures are appropriate for the substantiation of function claims and disease risk reduction claims?

“If the meeting is oversubscribed, participants will be selected on the basis of their experience in the field, taking into account the need for an appropriate range of expertise to be represented in the meeting,”​ EFSA said.

Draft guidance

EFSA also recently issued draft guidance, which can be found here​ , that will be discussed at the meeting and which it has invited industry to comment on.

That guidance from EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) noted that:

  • Improved digestion or absorption of nutrients such as lactose and iron are physiological beneficial and can form the basis of claims.

  • Maintenance of a normal immune function is physiologically beneficial but the effect must be defined in a way such as ‘defends against pathogens/allergens’. ‘Boosts natural defences’ claims are not specific enough.
  • Reduction in the incidence of respiratory, gastrointestinal and urinary infections are valid outcome measures for general immunity claims if matched by changes in immunological parameters such as a reduction in allergens or pathogens.
  • Self reported allergy data is, “unreliable and insufficient for diagnosis of allergy.” ​Clinical and lab measures should be shown in the same intervention studies.
  • Reductions in inflammation markers can be beneficial.

As yet, the NDA has rejected 284 article 13.1 probiotic strain health claim submissions in two batches since October last year. No probiotic has as yet won a positive opinion.

Most of the dossiers were rejected before their scientific data was analysed however as the strains were deemed not to have been sufficiently characterised to warrant NDA scrutiny.

The gut health and immunity workshop is part of a series of workshops that includes:

  • February 2011: Post-prandial blood glucose responses/blood glucose control and weight management/energy intake/satiety
  • May 2011: Oxidative damage and cardiovascular health
  • September 2011: Bone, joint and oral health and cognitive function
  • February 2012: Physical performance

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