Is The Systematic Review Process Adequate in Evaluating Probiotic Food Claims

Scientists have reviewed the process of evaluating health claims on probiotic foods in the European Union by evaluating the systematic review process and its impact on the subject.

Their conclusions were published in February’s edition of Nutrition Journal.

What they said was that while systematic review and meta-analysis are widely accepted in many scientific disciplines and by many policy-setting organizations, they are concluding the methods are best applied to focused research questions.

They say as an illustration why focused questions answered by SR and MA are appropriate that some published systematic reviews on broad categories of probiotics show different outcomes.

One reason may be poor quality studies, pooling heterogeneous study results, and not considering publication bias.

They conclude well-designed and -conducted systematic reviews should address such issues.

They state the European Food Safety Authority increasingly is adopting the systematic review methodology. They assert the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies deems randomized trials to be the best approach to generating evidence about the effects of foods on health outcomes. The researchers caution the use of the methods to combine results on more than a single strain or defined blend of strains and say it will require a rationale that the different probiotics are substantively similar, either in identity or in their mode of action.

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