Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 12:03 UK

Danone withdraws health claims for Actimel and Activia

Danone products
Danone also reported strong first quarter sales growth

The dairy company Danone has withdrawn requests to approve claims about the health benefits of two of its brands.

Danone has promoted that yoghurt drink Actimel strengthens the body's natural defences, while Activia aids digestion.

The company says it is waiting for the European Food Safety Authority to clarify how the approval process works.

However, Danane is already voluntarily withdrawing the claims from products sold in France. A UK regulator banned an Actimel advert last year.

Prior approval

European regulation of such health claims is in transition. Until now, such claims have been decided by the individual national regulator in each European country.

In October last year, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority decided to ban an Actimel TV advert in the UK, after it ruled that claims it helped protect school-age youngsters against illness were not supported by evidence.

However, in future any health claims made in advertising must first be approved by the European regulator, although the process and requirements for approval are still being refined, and a consultation meeting is scheduled for 1 June.

"We decided to withdraw the two applications [to the EFSA] to give ourselves time to participate in the meeting," said Danone's chief financial officer, Pierre-Andre Terisse.

Cautious outlook

The news came as the French firm also reported strong first-quarter sales growth of 7% from the previous year.

However, the release of the financial results, as well as the news about the health claims, were not met well, with Danone's share price dropping 3.6% in morning trading on Thursday.

Danone said that despite the strong first-quarter numbers, its outlook for the rest of the year remained cautious, and it had not revised its full-year targets upwards.

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