Are the claims made on health drinks really true?Do probiotics drinks deliver what they promise?

17 September 2011

probiotic drinks

Supermarkets and health food shops have an abundance of drinks claiming to keep you healthy, support your immune system or help you lose weight. 

But Which? research found that many of these claims aren’t worth the labels they’re written on.

The drink Aspire promises to help you lose weight and claims you can 'burn over 200 calories a can'. But our expert - a leading dietitian - wasn't convinced. 

Too good to be true

Looking more closely at the evidence, it showed that compared with a placebo, the drink only burned an extra 27 calories over three hours, the equivalent of a bite of a chocolate digestive biscuit.

A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) panel has been assessing health claims since 2008. 

Manufacturers who want to make health claims on foods or drinks must now submit evidence to substantiate them and so far around 80% of claims submitted have been rejected.


To date, general claims linking probiotics to improved digestive health, gut function and intestinal flora have all been rejected by EFSA. 

Despite this - and the fact that a daily probiotic shot can add up to £126 a year to your shopping bill - sales continue to rise.

Good news for sufferers of high cholesterol

Conversely, cholesterol-lowering drinks such as those by Benecol and Flora ProActiv have had their claims accepted. 

These drinks have shown that they can offer a real benefit to people suffering from high cholesterol and if necessary can work alongside prescribed medication.

Which? says

Which? continues to work to ensure consumers are not misled by claims on packaging. With family budgets squeezed more than ever, it’s vital consumers get what they pay for. 

Which? welcomes the EFSA process; claims should not be allowed on products until they are proven. But until a list of approved claims is released in 2012, consumers are still faced with claims that may not be proven.