Position papers

IPA EUROPE: Call for a responsible use of the term ‘probiotic’

6th December 2023

The International Probiotics Association Europe (IPA Europe) is deeply committed to promoting the responsible use of probiotics in food and food supplements. IPA Europe asks for an evaluation of the current understanding of the term ‘probiotic’ in the EU. Also, we believe that clear criteria should be set up to prevent the indiscriminate use of the term ‘probiotic’ and its potential misinterpretation.


Joint statement IPA Europe – European Dairy Association (EDA)

7th March 2022

The European Dairy Association (EDA) and the International Probiotics Association – Europe (IPA Europe) want to highlight the contribution that the probiotic sector can make on a number of the objectives listed in the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, and jointly ask for a clear engagement of the European Commission and stakeholders on the use of the term probiotic on labelling and communication towards consumers in Europe.

IPA Europe, representing the probiotic sector, and the European Dairy Association (EDA)  argue that ‘contains probiotics’ describes the substance, or category of substances, as factual information, and that it matches with the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation.  Since several years the probiotics sector has been asking the European Commission to look at the probiotic category, but until now this was not indicated as a priority.

The global probiotic market in 2021 is over 33Bn EUR  and continues to grow, with the European market representing 1/3 of the global consumption of probiotic food and food supplements. More than 70% of this market is represented by dairy and fermented milk products.

‘We call for action on the part of the European Commission and relevant stakeholders to build a coherent and consistent framework in Europe, to alleviate avoidable legal burden, with the goal of enhancing the functioning of our European Single Market’.


Manifesto for Probiotic Food and Food Supplements in Europe

The European probiotic sector needs to become again the driving force for innovative products that add value to human wellbeing, and to contribute to the growth of the European economy. The “Manifesto for the probiotic food and food supplements in Europe” sets out priorities and recommendations.  The European voice of probiotic industry, IPA Europe, is committed to developing a positive environment for probiotics in Europe.


IPA Europe Priorities and Recommendations for a Holistic Approach

  • Framing the use of the term ‘probiotic’, under appropriate criteria and conditions, is a necessary step towards the interest of European consumers and the functioning of the European Single Market.

IPA Europe recommends to provide useful guidance for stakeholders and for consumers on the use of the term “probiotic” in food, beverage and dietary supplements.  This will also require to reconsider the EC Guidance of 2007, which indicates that the term “probiotic” should be regarded as a health claim, and to work instead on a solution that makes a distinction between the probiotic category and the specific health claim requirements.

  • To set clear conditions of use and improve the information on food to meet the objectives of the EC Farm to Fork Strategy.

The use of the term “probiotics”, with clear and appropriate conditions of use, will allow the consumers to make an informed choice, using some simple criteria to distinguish probiotics from other live microorganisms. This could also be applied to e-commerce products. Currently there are  different  interpretations by  the European  Countries  as  regards  the  use  of  the  term  “probiotic”,  which,  in  turn,  implies  a  non-harmonized situation on the European Single Market.

  • It is crucial to create a labelling environment that the consumers can trust, and which will allow the consumer to make an informed choice.

Building a comprehensive framework will result in trustable information on the label and communication to consumers and customers.
In the context of the EC “Farm to Fork” strategy, IPA Europe welcomes the objective of improving the information on food, based on good practices and experiences.

  • Probiotics and the “Farm to Fork” strategy

Building a sustainable food system requires a holistic approach. The conclusions of this review should result in a more consistent approach with regulatory and non-regulatory measures in relation to probiotics that will meet the interest of the European consumers of being informed and make responsible choice.

  • Considering the global dimension of trade.

IPA Europe supports the development of international guidelines within the Codex Alimentarius and with the WHO, to sustain quality probiotic products on a global scale, and to ensure fair practices in food trade.
IPA Europe is engaged to establish the minimum characterization requirements, as well as quality and labelling parameters for probiotics for use as an ingredient in food and dietary supplements, on aspects not framed by existing Codex standards

  • Healthy and sustainable diet to meet the expectations of consumers to have a better quality of life.

Fostering a favourable environment for probiotics will not only benefit the serious and innovative industry in Europe, but also European consumers. This will contribute to substantial costs saving from a societal perspective, and will help to promote a better quality of life.