The logo can be used on-pack by its customers in a move by the food ingredients supplier to improve on-pack transparency, as well as enable manufacturers to better communicate their products’ proven effectiveness.
“The logo needs to be seen as a general wellbeing message that helps the consumer better understand the health claim about digestive health,” said Anke Sentko, vice president, regulatory affairs and nutrition communication at Beneo.
“The fermentation process in the gut has two effects. It increases the biomass or bulk and it stimulates the contraction of the gut.
“The inulin promotes selective growth of Bifidobacterium as a marker of this fermentation process. The logo makes the connection of the prebiotic effect to the 13,5 health claim on digestive health when using BENEO´s inulin.”
Timely prebiotic logo launch
Prebiotics are amongst a handful of ingredients to have received a rare regulator-approved health claim in Europe, secured in no small part by the strength of supporting science.
Beneo’s health claim states “Chicory inulin contributes to normal bowel function by increasing stool frequency”, when BENEO Orafti Inulin is used in a product.
While prebiotics continue to receive regulatory recognition, especially in the digestive health and well-being market, the term “prebiotic” remains poorly understood by the general public, who often confuse it with probiotic.
In a recent survey of 200 adults in the US, only 11% were familiar with the term, ‘prebiotics’, and only 7% identified the correct definition among four other choices.
Another survey of 245 health care providers (including 100 physicians), only 22% of respondents were familiar with prebiotics.
The confusion has seen companies adopt the use of a prebiotic ingredient for the effect, but add another ingredient, such as kiwifruit, fig or beetroot, that signifies digestive wellness to the consumer.
Portuguese juice firm Compal mixes kiwifruit, with its strong digestive health links, as the main “recognised” ingredient for its digestive health juice product, adding inulin for digestive claims.
Meanwhile, General Mills’ Fiber One bars contain natural chicory root and are available in orange cranberry, and blueberry flavours.
Sentko, speaking at the recent FiE event in Frankfurt, cited recent BENEO’s latest consumer research highlighting that two out of three respondents consider the term ‘prebiotic’ to be appealing.
“More and more people are reading up on digestive health including prebiotics and our own consumer research has shown that the term ‘prebiotics’ resonates positively with people,” she said.
“I think it’s a combination of this logo, which is a reference or a statement combined with the health claim that makes the difference.
“This combination gives the consumer a message as to what this fibre does and therefore I think it’s the right moment to make this logo available.”
Health claim challenges
Beneo’s digestive wellness health claim follows the firm’s second authorised 13.5 health claim awarded back in April 2016 for its chicory root fibres.
The claim’s wording may read "Consumption of food/drinks containing inulin/oligofructose instead of sugars induces a lower blood glucose rise after their consumption compared to sugar-containing foods/drinks" when BENEO`s chicory root fibres are used.
According to Sentko, the firm have always taken on a scientific research-backed approach in substantiating their products that has led to relatively high success during regulatory scrutiny.
“It starts with designing studies according to the needs of EFSA, who communicate what is required,” explained Sentko. “Researchers need some assistance with that as it is not something they would do automatically by themselves thinking about the biomarkers that EFSA accepts. These are biomarkers that researchers would not find exciting”
“In respect to writing the dossier, we have a wealth of in-house knowledge that includes a nutrition science group, a nutrition communications group, who break down the knowledge into the needs of the authorities.
“We also have a legislative or regulation group that deals with the authoritative process and the interpretation of that.
“There’s also a lot of exploratory work that is not EFSA-related,” Sentko added. “We cover this type of research, which involves developing ideas in which benefits may be identified and accepted by EFSA with a view that it may become EFSA-related at a later stage.”
The rapidly evolving universe of probiotics, prebiotics and the microbiome will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming IPA World Congress + Probiota 2018 in Barcelona on February 7-9.
From microbiome advances, to start-up game changers, market stats, crucial clinical science and regulatory knowledge, this is a congressional must-have.