Probiotic health benefits are often associated with a precise amount of colony forming units (C.F.U.). Bakers should work with the probiotic ingredient supplier to determine correct inclusion levels.
“In order to formulate effectively with probiotics, a baker must include efficacious quantities supported by strain-specific research, including any necessary overage to account for loss in the baking process,” said Don Cox, R.&D. director, Kerry Functional Ingredients and Actives. “The probiotics must also remain stable throughout a product’s shelf life in order to confer their benefits to consumers.”
In the United States, there’s very little regulatory guidance on marketing probiotics in foods and beverages. Most authorities would agree that shelf life testing is paramount when making probiotic content claims, such as “contains 40 billion live cultures.”
Marketing materials that simply state “contains probiotics” should include the minimum number of a well-studied species, but the benefit does not require demonstration at the strain level. However, any specific claim beyond “contains probiotics” should be further substantiated. For example, specific health claims should be supported by well-documented clinical studies, and the proven strain should be identified in marketing materials.
“Appreciation of the benefits of probiotics for gut health is growing, but there are still a number of common myths surrounding best-formulation practices,” Mr. Cox said. “One frequent misconception is that all probiotic strains are the same. Each strain possesses its own distinct characteristics, and these properties may influence safety, efficacy and their suitability for certain applications. As a result, you can’t take the positive findings of one study on a particular strain and its impact on gut health and use it to substantiate the digestive health benefits of another.”
Consumers in search of probiotics to address a specific health problem should identify the particular strain proven effective in treating that condition. Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration does not require companies to identify probiotics by strain. As consumers become more educated, food marketers are finding it beneficial to identify the probiotic strain and C.F.U. count.
When simply seeking out products to assist with improving overall health and wellness, shoppers may be perfectly content with the phrase “contains probiotics” on a package label. No reference to genera, species and strain is necessary. After all, numerous meta-analyses conclude, with some cautions, that probiotics as a class are beneficial. This suggests many probiotic strains share the same positive effects.