Innovations in probiotic research, technology and ingredient offerings mean it’s easier than ever to create safe, effective food and beverage products with mass consumer appeal. Yet determining which strain is best for your product can be confusing. Here’s what to consider when evaluating the right beneficial bacteria ingredient for a successful product.
First, it is important to know the three most common genera of beneficial bacteria. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are vegetative bacteria, which mean their cells are not particularly resistant to high heat or desiccation and stomach acid, and they require refrigeration to remain viable. Bacillus are hardy, spore-forming bacteria which transform into vegetative cells when conditions are optimal for their growth. These spores are much more resistant to extremes of pH, heat, cold and pressure than vegetative cells, making them a better fit for fortification in everyday foods and beverages.
If you want to formulate a shelf-stable, heat-resistant product, then opt for something in the Bacillus genera. In this category, Bacillus coagulans is the prime genus and species. One strain of well-researched Bacillus coagulans is GanedenBC30® (Bacilllus coagulans GBI-30, 6086), used in more than 900 foods, beverages and companion animal products globally.
Because specific probiotic strains offer certain health benefits, it’s important to be very selective about the culture being used. Here are five questions that every manufacturer should consider when choosing which probiotic ingredient to add to a SKU:
- Does the strain have safety data and certifications, such as FDA GRAS? Safety should always come first, so be sure to pick a strain that has undergone the appropriate level of scrutiny regarding its safety for your given application.
- Is there published data supporting health benefits for the probiotic strain? And are the supported benefits in line with your food and beverage product? For example, does the research on a strain demonstrate benefits in children while your product is aimed at the active senior market?
- Is this probiotic strain widely recognised in the marketplace in its country of origin? You’re looking to add value to your product line, so opt for a strain that is widely distributed and well branded with proven success.
- Will consumers pay extra for a probiotic option for this specific product? Make sure your product is one where consumers will see added probiotics as a bonus—and the ingredient supplier you’re working with has the consumer data to back it.
- Does the ingredient supplier have a validated method to test each strain for inclusion, viability and shelf life guarantees? You want a company that works with each of its partners to do personalised product testing, and ensure survivability and efficacy at the time of consumption.
Clearly, determining the right probiotic ingredient for your product, or products, is a multi-step process. Choosing your probiotic should not be rushed; take your time to review the science and get to know the supplier. Your diligence in this process will ensure your probiotic food or beverage is poised for success. A reputable ingredient will gladly walk you through the process and help you determine if its strain is a good fit for your food or beverage.