Italy has submitted an Application for the Use of the term "Probiotic" as a Generic Descriptor (denomination) of a class of foods (foods and food supplements) to the European Commission. This application combines legal and scientific arguments, with solid data proving 20 years of marketing of probiotic products.
The value of the European probiotic market is significant, in terms of the economy, employment and innovation. Although probiotics can continue to be used in food, it is not possible for the industry to highlight the specific characteristics of products containing probiotics because the use of the term "probiotic" is no longer permitted in the labelling, presentation and advertising of food products in the EU.
For that reason, YLFA and its partners consider that the use of the traditional term ‘probiotic’ should be allowed as a generic descriptor
, provided that certain conditions are met and as long as no references to specific health effects are made.
The case of Italy has a particular interest, as it is the first European country that adopted guidelines on probiotics, even before the adoption of the Health Claim Regulation. The application for granting the status of generic descriptor for probiotics lies within the scope of a more global approach that aims at the recognition of the category – according to the FAO/WHO guidelines and recommendations.