Probiotic wave: HFMA welcomes French decision on supplement labelling 

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The UK’s Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) has welcomed news  that France’s General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF), part of its Ministry of the Economy, will allow the term ‘probiotic’ to be used on the labels of food supplements in the country.

The European Commission considers the term ‘probiotic’ to be an unauthorized health claim that cannot be used in food labeling. However several EU countries have struck out on their own path, setting off a so-called ‘probiotic wave’.

The DGCCRF recognised that many EU Member States have chosen to no longer follow the position of the Commission, including the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Denmark, and Greece. In the UK the regulatory authority continues to follow the Commission line.

The DGCCRF seems to have taken the view that the market in Europe is anti-competitive and has acted to correct the situation in France. It has defined probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when consumed in adequate quantities, have a beneficial effect on the health of the host by contributing to the balance of the intestinal flora”. Companies in France are now authorised to use the term ‘Probiotics’ on the labelling of food supplements as a category name, and to associate it with a statement on the balance of the intestinal flora.

Graham Keen, HFMA executive director said; “This (decision) adds weight to our long-held belief that the term ‘Probiotic’ should be similarly authorised for use here in the UK, and we will continue to advocate strongly on behalf of our members in this respect.

“A significant part of our argument for an alternative approach in the UK market has focused on the same arguments used in France and we will actively be asking the UK regulatory authority why it should not be taking similar steps here in the UK.”

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