The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has approved the generic claim that yoghurt cultures promote better lactose digestion (the breakdown of lactose in the body). EFSA investigated the claim at the request of the European Commission, together with other generic health claims.
The generic yoghurt claim is that yoghurt helps to promote lactose digestion. It relates to live yoghurt cultures containing the micro-organisms Lactobacillus delbrueckii, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Lactobacillus Streptococcus.
EFSA’s NDA panel concluded that improved lactose digestion has a beneficial physiological effect on individuals with lactose maldigestion (i.e. people who have difficulty absorbing lactose). The panel’s conclusions were based on 14 humane studies. In 13 of these, improved lactose digestion was found in people with lactose maldigestion whose diet included yoghurt containing live starter cultures. In the study that did not show this beneficial effect, the symptoms of those who took part nevertheless improved.
Condition of the claim
To qualify for the health claim, the yoghurt must contain at least 108 cfes (colony-forming units) for each starter culture portion served, the NDA panel has specified. This is equivalent to one portion of yoghurt (minimum of 100ml).