By Dr. S.K. Dash
The use of probiotics in dietary supplements, food and beverages has increased from $10 million to $31 billion as consumer awareness has grown from 5% to 81%. The need for selecting the right probiotics is more important now than ever.
Selection of the proper probiotic strains is the key to functionality and safety. Probiotic effects are strain specific, dose specific and condition specific. Considerations for strain selection include safety (must be GRAS), ability to survive intestinal transit, manufacturing and distribution, and the final application. Identity of strains must be confirmed for every batch using genetic typing techniques. Sources for probiotics include humans (intestine and breast milk), animal and food. Human isolates are more likely to be safe, compatible with the human digestive system and more able to colonize.
Microorganisms with probiotic potential can be screened using a range of in vitro tests and confirmed using animal testing and/or human clinical studies. Typical in vitro tests include:
Probiotics must stay viable in food, feed, and dietary supplements. Probiotic stability is affected by high temperature, oxygen, humidity and high water activity in culture and excipients. Stability is also strain specific. Nitrogen packaging and use of University of Wisconsin technology has enhanced stability. Antimicrobial Activities of Probiotics The inhibition of pathogenic microorganisms is done by the selected probiotic strains due to their:
Multi-strain and multi-species probiotics have improved functionality as compared to single strain. However, special attention should be given to avoid combination of probiotic strains showing inhibitory properties against each other. All quality control testing should be done on the final formulation, not just individual strains for strain identification, potency and pathogens.. Storage, Handling and Shipping
Storage of probiotic supplement at 400 F is recommended to maintain the viability of the microorganisms. Probiotics that claim to be shelf stable must provide stability data for shelf-stable status.
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