A few new probiotic strains have been launched in recent years, with the most activity going on in the area of spore-forming bacteria, which claim better heat resistance and longer life than traditional cultures.
According Euromonitor analyst Ewa Hudson, Bacillus coagulans, the spore-forming bacteria in question, has been around for a while, masquerading as a probiotic. It is not susceptible to the factors that harm or denature true probiotics, and with some research indicating limited probiotic-like digestive benefits (albeit only temporary or transitory), they have found some success in the market, primarily in foods, but also in a few supplement formats.
Ganeden Biotech's GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) is a patented, gram-positive spore-forming bacteria strain that, once germinated, produces L+ lactic acid, supporting good bacteria in the gut, displacing non-beneficial bacteria. The company’s BC30 was the first spore-former on the market, and it claims it is superior to traditional probiotic organisms such as lactobacillus, acidophilus and bifidobacteria.
GanedenBC30 has not only undergone long-term safety testing, it has been given a no objection letter from the FDA – the first spore former to receive such a letter. A variety of new formats for GanedenBC30 are set to launch in mid-2013.
Together with its primary North American distributor, Glanbia Nutritionals, Ganeden has expanded its GanedenBC30 strain into more than 50 foods and beverages in a variety of product categories.
For example, capitalizing on Glanbia’s expertise in the protein/sports nutrition category, GanedenBC30 entered the sports nutrition market earlier this year and is now featured in top product lines. Ganeden’s probiotics are a perfect fit in the category, as the stress of repetitive exercise and heavy protein supplementation can cause immune system inhibition and digestive issues.
“Glanbia’s nutritional expertise and global sales team have opened doors for GanedenBC30 and allowed us to enter into new and innovative markets,” said Mike Bush, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Ganeden Biotech.
In 2008, Ganeden partnered with PL Thomas to have that company distribute its BC30 ingredient to U.S. food and beverage companies. Last October the companies announced strengthening their partnership to “accelerate” the expansion of Ganeden’s flagship ingredient. Ganaden also has in-house account managers to complement the work done by Glanbia and P.L. Thomas.
Nebraska Cultures made headlines at the 2012 Natural Products Expo East tradeshow with its ProDURA Bacillus coagulans spore-forming probiotic. ProDura claims to be superior to other probiotic strains in the market in that it maintains its potency at room temperature up to three years, is resistant to stomach acid and bile, offers stability at both very high and low pH conditions, and delivers higher counts to the digestive tract.
The company has two studies on ProDura. The first study simply validated what everyone assumed – consuming the probiotic led to colonization in the gastrointestinal tract. The second study measured DDS-1 on lactose tolerance. Study results found that if the subject built up enough of this good bacteria in the gut, having a little ice cream would no longer result in gastrointestinal upset.
"If you know you have an issue, you have to regularly take it so you establish consistent levels," said chief operations officer Michael Shahani. While its DDS-1 is targeted at the supplement market, its ProDura spore-formers are the best type of probiotics that give entrée to the food world. Shahani said there are a certain number of characteristics spore formers share—heat stability and extreme resilience – that make it optimal for inclusion in functional foods and beverages.
Sabinsa's LactoSpore brand Bacillus coagulans has been around for many years in the supplement marketplace, but is now seeing tremendous growth opportunities in the functional food area. Its self-affirmed GRAS LactoSpore, which is stable at room temperatures and can also withstand very high temperatures, was introduced into frozen yogurt and bread in 2012 with several new projects expected in 2013.
Ganeden is the research leader here. Since 2009, the company has invested in science that has led to 17 published studies on its BC30 strain. In 2012, three studies found efficacy against clostridium (inflammation of the colon), HIV and immune function.2-4
For all of the excitement around Bacillus coagulans, it may be mirroring its plusses on the minus side. "Manufacturers will have to be careful, as Bacillus coagulans will compromise any facility due to their hardy (hard to eradicate and easily spread spores) and the tendency for them to appear in other products (where they should not be and might be classified as a pathogen). And the level of science confirming health benefits is still much lower than when it comes to regular probiotics," cautioned Euromonitor's Hudson.
Others in the industry fear that introducing outside bacteria that could potentially lay dormant in the gut for an undetermined amount of time then replicate itself is asking for trouble down the road. In response, suppliers say it's a matter of producing and validating the right strains to avoid such issues.