Nutrimune and immune defence against pathogens in the gastrointestinal and upper respiratory tracts: evaluation of a health claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006
Following an application from H.J. Heinz Supply Chain Europe B.V. submitted for authorisation of a health claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 via the Competent Authority of the Netherlands, the EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) was asked to deliver an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to Nutrimune and immune defence against pathogens in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and upper respiratory tract (URT). The food Nutrimune (a pasteurised cow's skim milk fermented with Lactobacillus paracasei CBA L74) which is the subject of the health claim is sufficiently characterised. The Panel considers that immune defence against pathogens in GI tract and URT is a beneficial physiological effect. Two human intervention studies were submitted as being pertinent to the claim, which were evaluated by the Panel in the previous application. One human intervention study from which conclusions could be drawn showed an effect of Nutrimune on immune defence against pathogens in the GI tract and the URT. The post hoc re‐analysis of the two human studies combined does not address the methodological limitations of the second study raised in the previous opinion, i.e. that the study was not planned, designed, randomised and analysed as a multicentre study, and that the large disparity of subjects in the three centres was not duly justified. The results from one animal study could support an effect of Nutrimune on defence against pathogens in the GI tract. No evidence was provided for a plausible mechanism by which Nutrimune could exert the claimed effect in vivo in humans. The Panel concludes that the evidence provided is insufficient to establish a cause and effect relationship between the consumption of Nutrimune and immune defence against pathogens in the GI tract and URT.