, Volume 76, Issue 1-4, pp 293-315

Bringing a probiotic-containing functional food to the market: microbiological, product, regulatory and labeling issues

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Abstract

Properly formulated probiotic-containing foods offer consumers a low risk, low cost dietary component that has the potential to promote health in a variety of ways. Several such products are available commercially, although markets in Japan and Europe are more developed than in the USA. Once healthful attributes of a probiotic product have been identified, there remain microbiological, product, regulatory and labeling issues to be addressed prior to marketing. Microbiological and product issues include safety, effective scale-up for manufacturing, definition of probiotic activity, probiotic stability in the product over the course of product manufacture, shelf-life and consumption, definition of effective dose and target population(s), and development of quality assurance approaches. Examples of probiotic-containing foods are given. Regulatory and labeling issues are complicated because they differ for each country, but are likewise critical because they provide the means for c ommunication of the product benefits to the consumer. The regulatory climate worldwide appears to be one of caution about overstating the benefits of such products but at the same time not preventing corporate commitment to marketing.