EC to consider use of probiotic as ‘generic descriptor’

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th March 2013

Organisations in the probiotic and fermented milk sector are hopeful that the word probiotic will be accepted as a ‘generic descriptor’ after a meeting about nourishment and health claims being held by the European Commission today.

The main agenda item at the meeting will discuss the rules around generic descriptors on food labels. For the term probiotic, discussion is likely to centre around whether the term probiotic ‘could indicate an outcome on health’.

The terms ‘prebiotic’ and ‘probiotic’ were banned as health-related claims in Europe on 14 December 2012, leading to predictions that the probiotic foods and supplements industry in Europe was likely to experience a €130 million decline over the next five years if this marketing restriction were not lifted.

In June 2012, Australian Food News reported a similar issue concerning health claims in Australia had become contentious. FoodLegal’s Joe Lederman says that while Australia’s new Health Claims Standard requires foods making health claims to meet various prescribed criteria, Australian food companies have the opportunity of self-substantiating some claims which have not been given government pre-approval under a European-based model.