Collagen claims dropped from Lewis Road’s milk marketing

Collagen-infused milk claims fall foul of food code.

"I'm made with Collagen" label on milk bottle.

Lewis Road Creamery has dropped health claims for its collagen-infused milk after we pulled up the company for failing to comply with the Food Standards Code.

Launched this week, the $5 milk contains added bovine collagen – 5g per glass. The company’s website claimed the collagen “specifically aids joint health and mobility” and had been “scientifically shown to regenerate joint cartilage [and] stimulate the body’s own mechanisms for maintaining healthy joints and optimum mobility”.

However, the claims aren’t approved under the Food Standards Code and Lewis Road has put its hoof in it by using them.

Companies milking collagen claims to help sell their products are growing in number. The protein’s hyped as a supplement and is also added to cosmetics and food.

However, food manufacturers using the ingredient must comply with the Food Standards Code, which regulates health and nutrition claims. Unless already approved, companies have to provide evidence to substantiate health claims before using them to promote their products. This evidence must be notified to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

No health claims for collagen have been approved and FSANZ confirmed it hadn’t received evidence from Lewis Road to back up the claims.

After we contacted Lewis Road, general manager Nicola O’Rourke said it would remove the claims from its website and Facebook page. A print ad would also be put on hold until it got FSANZ approval.

What’s the evidence for collagen?

Collagen is a protein made in your body and a key structural component for your skin, bones, tendons and ligaments.

However, when it comes to collagen supplements and joint health, the evidence isn’t conclusive.

In 2011, the European Food Safety Authority found a cause-and-effect relationship hadn’t been established between collagen hydrolysate and the maintenance of joints. No claims for collagen supplements are listed as approved on the EU Register.

A 2019 report in the Journal of Primary Health Care concluded the research evidence is mixed for arthritic joint pain and better designed trials are required. The type of collagen, dosage and duration, as well as safety and quality concerns regarding the use of animal products, also required further research, it noted.

When we asked Lewis Road for the evidence it was using to back its claims, the company sent us two reports from supplement manufacturers. We didn’t find them persuasive.

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