Guidelines are designed to ensure quality and solid science
United States New guidelines for supplements containing probiotics will apply 'pressure on manufacturers to promote quality,' and lead to an on-pack seal for products satisfying the necessary criteria, according to Ioannis Misopoulos, executive director of the Illinois-based International Probiotics Association (IPA).
The guidelines would "weed out products that overpromise and underdeliver," Misopoulos said. This would offer consumers assurances about vital product attributes such as CFU count, and at the same time make competition between different supplements suppliers fairer.
"It levels off the field for all products," said Misopoulos. "It seemed that different information was on the label from product to product. Creating one harmonised code makes it easier for everyone to follow, and gives consumers the chance to research the strains and benefits on their own.
"It builds the foundation for us to create a seal programme to ensure quality and promote solid science. We want to keep the industry intact and protect those players that do years' worth of clinical and other scientific trials and do bring genuine products into the market."
The guidelines state that a product's label should bear the following information:
- Guaranteed minimum CFU count at the time of expiration of the product
- Storage directions
- Lot number or production code
- A clear identification of the probiotic bacteria — preferably the strain, but at least the genus and species, based on widely accepted nomenclature
- Contact information for the company, including an address and a telephone number. For products lacking enough space on the label, a website address where the consumer can go and get that information will suffice.
Directions for suggested usage
Misopoulos said the guidelines were developed "with the blessing of the industry," adding that "a lot of companies will take this route because they wouldn't want to miss the boat." The IPA is developing standardised testing protocols to underpin the forthcoming quality seal. It is also working on quality guidelines for food products containing probiotics, but Misopoulos admitted these were "trickier to come by."