Health Claims in Europe: Probiotics and Prebiotics as Case Examples

Henk van Loveren, Yolanda Sanz, Seppo Salminen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Health claims regarding foods imply a relationship between a specific food and maintenance of good health, or that food can reduce the risk of disease. Health claim legislation in the European Union sets out from the concept of consumer protection. Health claim assessment focuses on defining given foods, assessing their health relationship, and evaluating relevant studies with an emphasis on controlled human intervention research. Challenges include the focus of claims on healthy populations, although most intervention studies have been conducted among patients. A further problem attends the risk reduction claim, which requires changes in generally accepted biomarkers reflecting the risk of disease. Scientific assessment and guidance documents direct the development of health claims both in Europe and elsewhere. Experience from completed assessments should make it possible to provide consumers with reliable claims to help them make healthier choices and develop lifestyles supporting long-term well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-261
JournalAnnual Review of Food Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • health relationships
  • regulation
  • human studies

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