Monday, April 26, 2010


With the European safety regulatory agencies getting more and more vigilant many label claims are under a cloud with the industry unable to substantiate them with scientific data. Most recent case is that of the French food industry giant Danone which launched its yoghurt drinks some time back with several health claims printed on the label of the pack. These claims are now being with drawn against more stringent evaluation of health claims by the concerned authorities.

"FRENCH food giant Danone has withdrawn an application to have the health claims of Actimel and Activia recognised by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Actimel, a yoghurt drink, contains cultures of Lactobacillus casei bacteria which Danone says improve the body's natural defences against illness. Activia, a brand of yoghurt, also contains bacterial cultures, and the company claims it regulates the body's digestive system. Both products are marketed on these claims, which have proved controversial. The UK's Advertising Standards Agency banned one television advert in 2009 which claimed that Actimel was scientifically proven to help children's immune systems".

Though the manufacturer says that they are withdrawing the application for claim approval by EFSA because of lack of clarity in the current policy governing health claims, the truth of the matter may be that sufficient scientific evidence through clinical trials either does not exist or is inadequate to convince the authorities. As prebiotics, yoghurts already have a preeminent position in the minds of the consumers and why Danone chose to make an overkill, may be to increase the clientele base further.

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