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Probiotic Health Claims

What does 'probiotic' mean?
Is the term 'probiotic' a nutrition or health claim?
Are there any approved health claims for probiotics?
Can I use other terms to describe the health properties I believe the bacteria provide?
Can I mention the name of the strain of bacteria on my label e.g. Lactobacillus rhamnosus?
What does the term 'prebiotic' mean?
Is the term 'prebiotic' a nutrition or health claim?
Are there any approved health claims for prebiotics?

What does ‘probiotic’ mean?

The term ‘probiotic’ refers to probiotic bacteria. These are live microorganisms which may provide a health benefit in humans when consumed.

Is the term ‘probiotic’ a nutrition or health claim?

The term ‘probiotic’ is a health claim.

Stating ‘contains probiotic’ (or similar) on a product is not the same as saying ‘contains ingredient X’. It is more than just mentioning the product contains bacteria. It implies that the product contains a substance that may be beneficial for health. Anything that states, suggests or implies a relationship between food and health can be considered to be a health claim. For this reason, the term ‘probiotic’, when used on a food label, is considered to be a health claim.

Are there any approved health claims on probiotics?

There are no approved health claims for probiotics.

Applications for health claims on probiotics have been submitted for evaluation to EFSA and no application has received a positive opinion. Therefore, no claims on probiotics are listed on the EU register as authorised for use. The probiotic claims that have been fully evaluated and rejected are listed as non-authorised on the EU register

Can I use any terms to describe the health properties I believe the bacteria provide?

Any terms that imply probiotic activity (i.e. imply that the bacteria in the product may be beneficial for health) are health claims and are not permitted.

The European Commission has advised the FSAI that where terms like ‘live’ or ‘active’ are used to describe bacteria, these imply a probiotic function and therefore are considered to be health claims. No health claims have been approved for ‘probiotic’ and therefore terms that imply a probiotic function are not permitted.

Can I mention the name of the bacteria on my label e.g. Lactobacillus rhamnosus?

Yes, you can give the name of the bacteria in the list of ingredients. Under food law the name of the microorganism culture(s) the product contains is not required to be listed in the list of ingredients but manufacturers can choose to give this information voluntarily. In the case of fermented milk and cream products (which includes yogurt), the only ingredients required by law (Article 19 (1)(d) of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011) to be listed are ingredients other than the lactic products, enzymes and microorganism culture essential to their manufacture.

What does the term ‘prebiotic’ mean?

‘Prebiotic’ is a term used to describe a food component that may provide a health benefit when eaten because of changes it may bring about to the gut bacterial flora.

Is the term ‘prebiotic’ a nutrition or health claim?

The term ‘prebiotic’ is a health claim.

Stating ‘contains prebiotic’ (or similar) on a product is not the same as saying ‘contains ingredient X’. It is more than just mentioning the product contains bacteria. It implies that the product contains a substance that may be beneficial for health. Anything that states, suggests or implies a relationship between food and health can be considered to be a health claim. For this reason, the term ‘prebiotic’, when used on a food label, is considered to be a health claim.

Are there any approved health claims for prebiotics?

No, there are no approved health claims on prebiotics.

Applications for health claims on prebiotics have been submitted for evaluation to EFSA and to date, no application has received a positive opinion. Several prebiotic claims that have been fully evaluated and rejected are listed as non-authorised on the EU register 



Last reviewed: 16/11/2015

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