Probiotics community increasing political pressure for health claims change

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

Blaszkiewicz: EU law firms like hers are exploring ways EFSA's interpretation of the NHCR can be modified
Blaszkiewicz: EU law firms like hers are exploring ways EFSA's interpretation of the NHCR can be modified
The pre- and probiotics community is seeking direct dialogue with the European Commission to force a rethink of immunity and gut health claims under the European Union nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).

NutraIngredients has learned that the group formed by disgruntled gut health academics on Christmas eve (www.gut-health.eu​) is requesting a meeting with EC officials to discuss treatment of gut health claims, with a view to having them removed from the system it believes is not appropriate to scrutinise academic research in the area.

One of the founders of the group, Ger Rijkers, PhD, from the University Medical Center in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, said the group wanted probiotics removed as has happened with botanicals, which the EC pulled from the process last year to be reconsidered at some point in the future.

As of today, 143 gut health scientists from more than 28 countries had signed the group’s petition for change in the system they feel is undermining pre- and probiotic research.

Izabela Blaszkiewicz, from the Brussels office of legal firm Hogan Lovells International LLP, said some of her clients had been making enquiries about similar ideas.

“What they are calling for is greater transparency and guidance about dossiers, which they believe does not exist at the moment and so options are being considered including removing probiotics from the process or challenging aspects of the regulation in the courts,” ​she said.

Blaszkiewicz will present some of these ideas at a health claimsconference​ in Brussels next week, where she will explore some of the legal ramifications of the EFSA’s interpretation of the regulation, and what avenues exist to alter that interpretation.

“The fact is that EFSA is not legally liable for the health claim opinions they issue, that is for the EC, which deals with those opinions. So there is a lot of thinking going on about how to make EFSA more accountable for those opinions perhaps via further EC guidance.”

“Probiotics are in a similar situation to botanicals, a sector that achieved significant change in their treatment in the system via successful dialogue with regulators.”

The managing director of one prominent probiotics supplier told NutraIngredients after the EFSA-convened gut and immune health meeting in Amsterdam last year that the probiotics industry, like academia, was joining forces to better have its concerns aired within various EU institutions.

For more information about the Brussels conference click here​ .

To find out the latest in probiotic scientific, regulatory and marketing developments, be sure to register for the NutraIngredients Pre- and Probiotics virtual conference on March 29 where Dr Rijkers will be one of several speakers. Find out more here.

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1 comment

Hear Our Voice

Posted by Jason Ryz,

The probiotic community has a right to have their voices heard - our products have a multitude of beneficial affects. It is time the the pharmaceutical companies relent on their domination of the market and let other ambitious companies participate.

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