Danone's Actimel does not alleviate diarrhea - EFSA
Thursday 09 December 2010
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) rejected Danone's claim that its drinkable yogurt product effectively combats diarrhea on December 8.
Danone, the world's largest yogurt maker, claims that Actimel has a number of health benefits, including that it can reduce the instance of diarrhea, which the EU's food safety regulator says is bogus.
Millions of shoppers have bought into the claims of yogurt brands that pro-biotic ("good bacteria") products can boost bodily defenses and combat so-called "bad bacteria." This isn't the first time EFSA has ruled rejected the health claims of pro-biotic yogurt makers - in October 2009, 180 health claims for pro-biotic ingredients were thrown out by EFSA.
Brands like Danone justify charging higher prices for specialized products like Actimel, which is marketed as a functional product containing billions of L. casei pro-biotic cultures, and one of the company's best-selling products. According to the product Web site, Actimel is "scientifically-proven to meet certain pro-biotic criteria." The site goes on to cite eight clinical studies that demonstrate Actimel's ability to prevent or control diarrhea.
Earlier this year, Danone withdrew applications for approval from EFSA for two claims - that Actimel strengthens the immune system and that its spoonable yogurt product Activita aids digestion.
This past October, EFSA rejected Japanese brand Yakult's claim that its trademark pro-biotic product protects the upper respiratory tract. Yakult claims that its exclusive Shirota-strain bacteria provide benefits that go above and beyond basic nutrition. More than 25 million people around the world drink Yakult daily in 31 countries.
Read EFSA's conclusions about Actimel and Yakult here: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/scdocs/doc/1903.pdf and here: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/scdocs/scdoc/1860.htm
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