Probi ‘not affected’ by EFSA rejection of health claim

By Jane Joseph

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Lactobacillus, European food safety authority

Probi says its business will not be affected by a recent European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ruling that there is not enough evidence linking a proprietary probiotic strain to a decrease in potentially harmful pathogens in the gut.

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) looked at health claims related to Lactocacillus plantarum ​299 (DSM 6595, 67B). Although the panel recognised that decreasing pathogenic microorganisms in the intestines might have a “beneficial physiological effect”, it said that it could not draw scientifically substantiate the claims given the references provided.

However, Probi CEO Michael Oredsson says the ruling has no affect on business as 299 is not a commercial strain.

“The specific application was made more than three years ago in the area of gut health and EFSA was looking for proof of eradication or significant decrease,”​ he said. “We knew that this would be the result.”

Probi has no plans to use the strain in any commercial products at present even though “it’s a good strain and part of our library”,​ he added.

The NDA looked at five scientific references given to substantiate the claim; two human studies, two animal, and one reference that quoted an internal report that was itself not provided.

One human study looked at in vitro colonisation of human intestinal mucosa by a mixture of 19 Lactobacillus strains in fermented outmeal soup, which was eaten by 13 adult volunteers. The mixture contained 18 other strains beside L. plantarum​ 299, invalidating the claim, said the NDA. The other evaluated the how different lactobacillus strains survived in the gastrointestinal transit by looking at faeces, but the strains did not include L. planturum ​299.

The animal studies, which focused on the impact on L. plantarum​ 299 on rats, cannot be used as supportive evidence as human studies are necessary to substantiate a claim, says the NDA.

Probi’s Lactobacillus plantarum​ 299v are used in functional drinks such as the GoodBelly Bravo Friscus and ProViva ranges

On its website, Probi claims that Lactobacilli counteract the bacteria that cause illnesses and improve digestive health.

“Scientific studies have shown that certain lactobacilli have a beneficial effect on the intestinal mucosa, reducing its resistance to attacks,”​ the company says. “Other beneficial effects …include an anti-inflammatory effect and an increased production of what are known as fatty acids in the colon.”

NutraIngredients health claims 2010

These matters and more will be discussed at the second NutraIngredients Health Claims 2010 conference to be held in Brussels on December 1. The conference will deconstruct the latest article 13.1 claim opinions, hear first-hand experience from players like Kellogg’s, outline regulation-coping marketing strategies, and feature comparison with the US claims system from leading industry figure, Dr Andrew Shao.

For more details click here.

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