From now on, food companies must comply with the European Union’s list of approved and rejected health claims. Is this the end of probiotic yogurts claiming to help ‘healthy intestinal flora’?
As of today, many health and nutrition claims that you may be used to seeing on packaging or in advertising will be illegal.
Previously, companies could make claims about their foods and food supplements without providing evidence to back it up. Not anymore. Unless the evidence behind a claim has been independently assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and approved by the EU, a company will be breaking the law if it uses the claim.
80% of health claims rejected
This is great news for consumers who have been wasting money on products promising benefits they can’t deliver. And it’s something we’ve long called for at Which?. Around 80% of claims that were submitted to the EFSA couldn’t be backed up – so it’s a significant move.
The belief that cranberry juice helps with a urinary infection is one of the claims that has been rejected because the evidence isn’t strong enough. Another is that glucosamine maintains joint mobility. Also rejected is the claim that taurine, found in some energy drinks, improves athletic performance.
Friendly bacteria – good for your tummy?
But perhaps the biggest surprise is that some claims about probiotics, often referred to as ‘friendly bacteria’, have been rejected by the EFSA. Previously, packaging on probiotic products had claimed that they help digestion, maintain a healthy gut and support your immune system.
The problem is that for many years manufacturers have been promoting these benefits and the public have trusted them. Many manufacturers have already removed their claims about the benefits of probiotics from packaging and advertising but it’ll take some time to re-educate those who were led by such claims.
Unsupported health claims are on the way out – a move that is long overdue. Will this give you more confidence in the products you buy?