Crack open your creamy companion and savour the satire:
Now, there’s no way that I can keep you as entertained as Sarah Haskins can, but if we get serious for a moment, this probiotic party line may actually be full of it.
In a recent article for the guardian, Felicity Lawrence points out that we may need to slurp on a little reality. Sure, we can snicker at 19th century cereal slogans that promise to make our blood redder and cure malaria—‘cause we know those are silly sales pitches—but then maybe we should ask ourselves if we’re buying in to “the ludicrously exaggerated” modern day equivalents.
While gliding through the grocery aisles, I’m sure many of us stop at the functional health foods that promise to move us and improve us, but as the industry winks with approval, more objective bodies–like the European Food Safety Authority–are not impressed.
The EFSA’s new rules want to make it harder to slap health labels on our consumer goods in Europe. They’re adding scientific evidence to things shoppers should look for at a grocery store. And there’s some bad news for our thick-milky friend:
“Out of hundreds of “probiotic” strains of bacteria under consideration, not one was shown to improve gut health or immunity.”
Now, such assessments are especially interesting if we revisit a law suit that happened last year (summarized here by the CBC). Basically, a Californian consumer called shenanigans on Dannone and filed a class action law suit for their misleading advertising. Although Dannone insists that its health claims are sound, it did fork over $35 million to settle the lawsuit out of court. Of course, Dannone said they paid the problem away to avoid litigation and more expense, and not because they were in the wrong.
To top it all off, I stumbled across this article in Maclean’s. Basically, of the countless strains of probiotics, only some have have the health benefits that so many companies are charging for. Still, we shouldn’t necessarily write off probiotics–we should just be critical enough to ask what strain they are, and whether or not specific manufacturers are giving us the kind that matters.
As an interested layperson, all I know is that I’m confused and hungry–and, dang it, yogurt still tastes good to me.
(disclaimer: I don’t actively endorse probiotic Yogurt, yellow arrows, or Jamie Lee Curtis.)