France authorizes the use of the term “probiotic” in food supplements
The French competent authority has announced it will accept the use of the term “probiotic” on the labels of food supplements commercialized in the country.
Europe does not have a clear or harmonized regulatory framework on probiotics, and therefore decisions may be made on them by individual Member States. The general view by both European and many National authorities is that the term “probiotic” is an implicit, non-authorized health claim, as consumers may automatically link this word with health benefits. Therefore, the very use of the name is not authorized in many countries.
However, over the last two years, some Member States like Spain (https://www.sandwalkbio.com/post/spain-approves-the-use-of-the-term-probiotic-in-foods), the Netherlands and Denmark (https://www.sandwalkbio.com/post/domino-effect-denmark-moving-towards-probiotic-authorization) have relaxed their position regarding the use of this term.
Now, on January 5th, 2023, the French competent authority DGCCRF - Ministère de l'Économie announced that “probiotic” will be allowed in food supplements in the country. Given that the definition for probiotics adopted by French authorities is “Living 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”, the term may be used together with the wording "contributes to the balance of the intestinal flora", as long as products meet certain conditions, such as a minimum number of living cells per daily dose. This position is very similar to the Italian one, where probiotic products providing a certain amount of cfus may bear the claim “favor the equilibrium of the intestinal flora”.
This is yet another important regulatory event for probiotics in Europe, which undoubtedly calls for a EU-wide regulation regarding the type of products in which the term may be used (i.e. foods vs. food supplements vs. both), minimum cfus per day and claims associated, as decisions made by individual Member States are not harmonized in these regards.