EFSA opinion on colostrum bovinum - a component of Transfer Factor products
What is colostrum bovinum?
Colostrum bovinum is otherwise bovine colostrum. It is a component of many Transfer Factor supplements from the American company 4Life Research, e.g. Transfer Factor Classic .
In one of the latest scientific publications (June 2021) it is written about colostrum:
"Colostrum is the first milk produced post-partum by mammals and is compositionally distinct from mature milk.
Bovine colostrum has a long history of consumption by humans, and there have been a number of studies investigating its potential for applications in human nutrition and health."
(source: Arslan A, Kaplan M, Duman H, et al. Bovine Colostrum and Its Potential for Human Health and Nutrition. Front Nutr . 2021; 8: 651721. Published 2021 Jun 21. doi: 10.3389 /fnut.2021.651721 )
What is EFSA?
EFSA is the short name of the European Food Safety Authority.
It is EFSA that evaluates whether claims made about the possible nutritional and health benefits of food are supported by scientific evidence. This scientific assessment serves as a basis for other European Commission to determine legally whether a nutrition and health claim is permitted in the EU.
Only claims published in the List of permitted health claims (this is an annex to EU Commission Regulation No. 432/2012) may be used in food advertising and promotion
How does it work?
The seller or manufacturer may ask the European Commission to authorize a statement that it believes to be true. If EFSA gives a positive opinion on such a request, the European Commission will add the beneficial statement to the List of permitted health claims.
Can health claims for colostrum bovinum be used in the European Union?
There are no approved health claims for colostrum bovinum so far, although the Medical Library of Pubmed is full of publications documenting the various positive effects of colostrum: see over 390 search results for yourself .
How is it possible that health claims cannot be made about colostrum bovinum, which has been known and used in human nutrition for a very long time?
Unfortunately, the proposed statements submitted so far to the European Commission have been negatively assessed by EFSA ( see that negative opinion ).
Here are what the proposed statements were:
- "supports immune health / source of immunoglobulins", "Optimises the natural defense system in healthy persons"
- "supports the immune system during periods of intense exercise, "Colostrum helps athletes maintain a healthy immune system during intense training"
- "supports the improvement of exercise performance in combination with regular training," Combined with regular training, colostrum can improve in exercise performance"
- "supports the increase in lean body mass when combined with resistance exercise", Combined with exercise and diet, colostrum supports muscle growth"
- "supports recovery after intense exercise", "Bovine colostrum supports optimal recovery after intense exercise"
- "digestive health: bovine colostrum can help treat colitis / prevent diarrhea, reduce colic symptoms / bovine colostrum is effective in treating gastrointestinal disorders", "Promotes gastrointestinal/bowel/gut health, Promotes gastrointestinal well-being, Helps to reduce gastrointestinal discomfort"
- "works against asthenia (regeneration)"/ "Maintains energy and tonus, Strengthens vitality, For use in the event of temporary fatigue"
Here are the reasons on which the opinion was negative:
- the characterisation of the food which is the subject of the health claims is unclear (because colostrum is available in different forms: natural, concentrated, in liquid, in powder, in capsules, as in our supplement Transfer Factor Classic )
- the concentrations of various components of the bovine colostrum which are proposed to contribute to the claimed effects have not been provided
- the subject is not sufficiently characterised in relation to the claimed effects considered in this opinion
Therefore, according to EFSA, it was not possible to establish a cause and effect relationship between the consumption of bovine colostrum and the claimed effects.
If EFSA specialists have not established a cause-and-effect relationship, does it mean that colostrum bovinum is not healthy ???
Hmmm ... :)
In one of the latest publications (February 4, 2022), an international team of scientists concludes in a summary like this:
"Bovine colostrum (BC) is the initial mammary secretion after parturition, which is nature's bountiful source consisting of nutritional and bioactive components present in a highly concentrated low-volume format. All mammalian newborns require colostrum to enhance physiological processes such as lifelong immunity, gastrointestinal development, and resistance to microbial infections. The genetic, environmental, and processing methods can all have an impact on the biochemical contents of BC and its supplements. BC and its derivatives have been intensively researched for their potential use in functional foods, medicines, and animal feed. Evidence from clinical studies suggests that BC products are well-tolerated, nontoxic, and safe for human ingestion. Functional foods, feed, and pharmaceutical formulations based on bovine colostrum are playing noteworthy roles in the development of innovative products for promoting health and the prevention of chronic illnesses. " (source: Mehra R, Garhwal R, Sangwan K, et al. Insights into the Research Trends on Bovine Colostrum: Beneficial Health Perspectives with Special Reference to Manufacturing of Functional Foods and Feed Supplements. Nutrients. 2022; 14 (3): 659. Published 2022 Feb 4. doi: 10.3390 / nu14030659 )
Despite what scientists write above, so far in the European Union sellers and producers of colostrum food (including dietary supplements) cannot praise their products for any positive effects on health.
This was what officials of the European Commission decided for the sake of you and me. They believe that the average consumer is exposed to a flood of online content and unhealthy choices. But is it really beneficial to ban the word "healthy" for such food as bovine colostrum?
Today the "healthy" claims can be written about drugs, although any drug misused endangers your life or health... But can't be written about colostrum - known and used for ages.
Author: Alicja Krzywanska-Podermanska
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