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Probiotic Drink Benefits Claims Thrown Out

Posted Oct 02 2009 10:01pm

The claims we have been fed by numerous adverts telling us how beneficial it would be for our digestive systems to drink a probiotic a day thinking the “good bacteria” would fight the “bad bacteria”, have been quashed.

There has been extensive research undertaken into the issue, and the resulting evidence has revealed that there is no scientific proof that the ingredients are of any way beneficial to our health.

The EU’s food agency, the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) dismissed all 180 claims of seemingly beneficial probiotic drinks.

Ten of them were rejected straight away, while a 21-member expert panel were unable to determine the claims of the other 170 because the so-called healthy ingredients could not be properly identified.

The results of the research in ingredients like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium puts the bacteria drinks industry to shame with its £220 million a year profits, where hard advertising was convincing shoppers of the benefits.

Interstingly, Britain’s most well known and best selling probiotic drinks Actimel and Yakult were not investigated in the report, because Danone and the Japanese company responsible for Yakult withdrew their claims just in time to not be analysed.

On probiotics, an Efsa spokeswoman said, “They have been assessed but the outcome was negative or our scientists said they didn’t have sufficient evidence to evaluate them.”

Sue Davies, chief policy officer at Which? said the findings revealed that soons shoppers would be made aware of what did, and did not, work.

“For too long the fact that people are getting more interested in health has been seen as a marketing opportunity, and companies have been putting claims on their products. And now that we are getting systematic research we have been able to say some of these claims cannot be supported.”

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