The world of probiotics

DaniscoDanisco: An extensive range
Danisco offers one of the most extensive ranges of probiotic bacteria in both probiotic families, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, which are sold under the registered trademark Howaru.

The company also produces three highly documented probiotic strains: Howaru Dophilus (Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM), Howaru Bifido (Bifidobacterium lactis HN019), and Howaru Rhamnosus (Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001).

Recently, Danisco introduced the probiotic formulations Howaru Protect, designed for the prevention of colds and flus, and Howaru Restore, designed to repopulate healthy microflora diminished by antibiotics use.

Products containing Danisco probiotics are found throughout the world, mostly in fresh dairy and dietary supplements. New areas of applications are emerging in chilled fruit juices, chocolate confectionery and cheese.

What is most unique about Danisco probiotics line is its strain-specific benefits that have been demonstrated in many human clinical studies, says Nathalie Brosse, a marketer in the company's Cultures division.

"Howaru Bifido and Howaru Rhamnosus have been shown to enhance natural immunity in clinical trials performed in several countries," she explains. "The trial results showed that the strains enhanced the activity of natural killer cells and the phagocytic activity of peripheral blood mononucleocytes."

Other studies on the company's Howaru Dophilus probiotic have shown its ability to decrease intestinal discomfort associated with lactose intolerance and improve the activity of intestinal microflora. Research published in 2006 in Nature Medicine found that the probiotic mediates analgesic function in the gut equivalent to morphine effects.

"What this suggests," Brosse says, "is that the microbiology of the intestinal tract influences visceral pain perception. This opens new doors to the treatment of abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome with this unique probiotic strain."

— Joysa Winter

ValioValio: The world's most-studied probiotic
Valio is the largest functional dairy-products company in Finland, and its products — sold under the trade names Valio Gefilus and Valio Kidius Gefilus — are sold in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.

The company's technologies and ingredients, however, have worldwide distribution, as Valio has licensed the rights to its technology, expertise and trademarks to approximately 20 dairy companies around the world. Its Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG probiotic ingredient is sold under the name LGG.

When the company launched its first probiotics-fortified product in 1990, it had the benefit of doing so in a market with high consumption of fermented milks. Today, attesting to the huge impact Valio has made on the marketplace, Finns have the world's highest per-capita consumption of dairy probiotics — about 6kg per capita per year.

"After our first product launch in 1990 of a fermented whey drink, we also created daily-dose drinks, cheeses, juice drinks and fermented milk drinks," says Kalle Leporanta, Valio's marketing manager. "In 2001, we helped create fermented milks fortified with Benecol phytosterols, to lower cholesterol, under a license with Raisio."

While its initial product launches in Finland were incorporations in fermented whey milk drinks, yoghurts and other fermented milks, it now appears in infant formulas, dietary-supplements tablets, hard-gelatine capsules and bacterial powders. The probiotics now appear in dozens of products across Europe, as well as such countries as Israel, Ecuador, Chile, Japan, Korea and Australia.

Valio sees a continued strong future for all probiotics ingredients. "We see that consumers are willing to pay anywhere from five per cent to 40 per cent more for products that maintain good health," Leporanta says. "And consumers are willing to even pay 40 per cent to 100 per cent more for products that address their health problems and make it possible for them to avoid pharmaceutical medicines. Probiotics are in a strong position to benefit from that."

Gefilus is also one of the most researched, with more than 320 published articles in scientific journals. Results show benefits including decreased illness-related absences in children in a day-care centre, decreased respiratory tract infections, decreased content of potentially harmful bacteria present in the nasal mucosa of adults, decreased stomach distress, and shortened duration of diarrhoea.

— Joysa Winter

Nebraska CulturesNebraska Cultures: A probiotics pioneer
The company was founded in 1981 by Khem Shahani, PhD, who was one of the first scientists in the world to discover and document the health-giving properties of certain bacteria, which are now known as probiotics.

"He isolated and developed the DDS-1 strain of L. acidophilus, and conducted pioneering research for more than 40 years at the University of Nebraska," explained Michael Shahani, director of operations. "Based on his research, he developed proprietary growth and stabilisation methods we still use today. This research and these methods are the basis of the Dr. Shahani's Probiotics brand."

The company manufactures and carries a full line of probiotics under the name Dr. Shahani's Probiotics. Its flagship product is its DDS-1 strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus, but it also carries the main lactobacilli and bifidobacteria strains, as well as Streptoccus thermophilus, Entercoccus faecium and Bacillus coagulans.

Over the years, Shahani published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, about 80 on the properties of probiotic bacteria, primarily L. acidophilus DDS-1. Today, Robert Hutkins, PhD, a professor of food science and technology at the University of Nebraska, is the company's chief scientific adviser who oversees research and testing.

Although the health benefits of lactic cultures have been understood since the early 1900s, one of the main challenges of supplementation has been finding strains that are able to not only tolerate and pass through the acidic stomach (low pH), but also grow and proliferate at physiological levels of bile salts and adhere to intestinal epithelial cells. They must also be able to improve mineral absorption, as well as produce beta-galactosidase (lactase) and vitamins.

In one of the last studies Shahani published, in 2000, researchers found that the company's L. acidophilus DDS-1 strain successfully contains those properties. It successfully adheres to intestinal walls and supplants E. coli bacteria; produces significant amounts of ?-galactosidase and anti-microbial substances; and produces more L-lactic acid than D-lactic acid, thus reducing the risk of intestinal acidosis.

Nebraska Cultures supplies primarily the food-supplements market. Among the brands that contain its raw materials are Bluebonnet, Arise & Shine, TwinLab, Solaray, Optimal Health, Biotics Research, Roex, American Biologics, Douglas Laboratories, Natural Wellness Centers, Windhawk Nutritionals and Mt. Capra. A few food formulators also use the Dr Shahani's brand.

— Joysa Winter

Institut Rosell LallemandInstitut Rosell Lallemand: Research-centric and food-ready
Integrating probiotics into foods is still in its infancy. But that has not stopped Lallemand, the Canadian probiotics supplier, from creating a new division, called Lal'Food, to focus specifically on probiotics in foods.

"If you're taking a probiotic straight, your concern is getting it past the low pH of the stomach, and so you know micro-encapsulation will help tremendously," says Jim Kopp, vice president of nutritional baked goods at Lallemand. "When you go into food products, it is an application with many variables, each one a little different. Then you have to look at different ingredients and how they might affect the probiotic."

The two food-processing variables that can be detrimental to probiotics are temperature and moisture, says Kopp. Assiduous stability and viability testing within a specific food matrix all have to be done to ensure a finished product that maintains its probiotic count until the end of shelf life.

Institut Rosell has been an expert in live micro-organisms since 1934. It is part of the Lallemand Group, a privately owned company with head offices in Montreal, Canada and Toulouse, France; and production facilities in countries around the world. The company excels in identifying, characterising and producing probiotic strains for specific health applications, in particular in the gastrointestinal, women's and children's health, immunity and stress areas.

Lacidofil is a blend of two lactobacillus strains, marketed in eastern Europe and North America and clinically documented to restore the gut microflora . Lacidofil is a combination of L. rhamnosus (Rosell-11) and L. helveticus (Rosell -52). L. plantarum 299v is used for irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, and has been launched in North America, and in most European markets. More recently, Probio'Stick, an innovative stick formulation that can be taken at any time, has been shown to reduce the GI symptoms associated with chronic stress.

"One of the company's key focal points is to offer well-documented probiotics strains, which is possible thanks to a strong network of universities or hospitals partnerships in North America and Europe for clinical and preclinical research. The research on formulation, production processes, protection technologies occurs in house," says press officer Sylvie Roquefeuil-Dedieu.

— Todd Runestad

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