10th Congress “Probiotics, Prebiotics, New Foods” – IPA Europe’s Round Table and Panel Discussion

Rome, Italy – September 8-10, 2019

Stage of the conference with the speakers and moderator sitting down

The 10th Probiotics, Prebiotics & New Foods, Nutraceuticals and Botanicals for Nutrition & Human and Microbiota Health Conference  took place from 8 to 10 September 2019, at the prestigious Università Urbaniana in Rome. The International Probiotics Association Europe (IPA EU) was partner of the Congress and organized a round table (on Sunday, 8th from 14.00 to16.00) and a panel session (“The Global Voice of Probiotics IPA/IPA Europe session“).

The round table took place during the opening session: after the introduction of IPA EU, the intervention of Silvia Valuena Martinez clarified the role of EFSA, and of the Scientific Panel on dietetic products, nutrition and Allergies (NDA). She also provided an interesting view of the quantitative reference values for nutrient intakes for healthy individuals and populations, which may be used for assessment and planning of diets, using the most appropriate combination of criteria for the nutrients.


Arthur Ouwehand introduced the “Criteria for the use of the term probiotic to provide science-based information to consumers”, which is based on the ongoing work of ISAPP/IPAEU.  Bruno Scarpa of the Italian Ministry of Health presented the Italian approach, and focused the presentation on the request to apply the nutrient profile approach for probiotics, as is currently the case for other substances (i.e for resveratrol). This approach was also mentioned by Prof. Morelli, who was taking over the role of moderator during the discussion, and he was also the right person to better understand the FAO definition, and to reply to the questions around “what is included in the definition and what is not”. Several examples of misuse of the term were also provided.


A panel discussion took also place: “The Global Voice Of Probiotics Ipa/Ipa Europe” session: How to define a comprehensive approach for the definition of the probiotic category (nutrition relevance and scientific requirements)”

The President of IPA Europe Esben Laulund opened the session. In the last years, probiotics have increased their popularity (56.8 millions hits in Google) and the scientific world has also been very active in this sector. Although probiotics have become more and more popular in the market, consumers are exposed to any kind of product bearing the term “probiotic”. Therefore, President Laulund has encouraged working to provide useful guidance for stakeholders and for consumers as well.


Sylvie Lortal (France): Nutritional relevance of the daily ingestion of live microorganisms through microbial foods. Ms Lortal explained that live bacteria represent a nutritional relevance of a very rich, highly variable “cocktail”. Even if for a certain period of time the industrialization requested highly repeatable processes that could lead to a strong modification of the raw material, nowadays the consumers’ interest on the nutritional/health benefits of microbial food is strongly increasing. Ms Lortal highlighted in her conclusions that the need to preserve microbial diversity in all aspects of our life has become more and more clearly affirmed.


Bruno Pot (Belgium): Could “probiotics” deserve a category definition such as “prebiotics”? Prof. Pot proposed an interesting view on the high homology between the two food categories in terms of definition, compositional diversity of these food ingredients, health impact or disease risk at low consumption levels (for a large variety of diseases), targeting a complex ecosystem with high inter- and intra-individual variation, depending on host (epi)genetics, diet, environment, age, labelling rules and recommended daily intake. While the “dietary fibre” category is almost universally recognized, the “dietary microbes” category needs still to be “invented”. A well-defined category would help in communicating to the consumer about possible benefits (through nutrition claims) of these foods.


Yvan Vandenplas: Learn more about probiotic and prebiotic. For Prof. Vandenplas, more clear definitions are still required. Furthermore, every probiotic is a “good” microorganism but not every “good” micro-organism is a probiotic and not prebiotics and probiotics are the same. Prof. Vandernplas suggested a more stringent quality control process. This process should ensure that the probiotic content as mentioned on the label meets the actual content throughout the shelf life of the product.


George Paraskevakos for IPA and François Bourdichon for IDF introduced the work ongoing at Codex level and the Future Perspectives. The work of IPA on the Codex Alimentarius started in 2017. The work at Codex level is highly significant in developing a recognized and harmonized definition for the probiotic category, which will provide correct information to consumers, while the specific health claims are not within the scope of the Codex initiative. Mr Bourdichon presented the international association FIL/IDF, which since 1903 is providing expertise and scientific knowledge in support of the Codex Alimentarius activity. IDF has supported the proposal of Argentina to establish guidelines for the use of probiotics in foods and dietary supplements, but would like to better clarify the scope, purpose, and limits. IDF would like to see the focus on the labeling rules and a reinforcement of the recommendations on the use of the term “probiotic”, based on the updated scientific evidence.

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