Advances in Probiotic Functional Food and Beverage Applications

by Steve Lamb,Chris Penet -

The world of probiotics is changing daily. How do manufacturers, formulators and consumers keep up with the volume of data and rapidly changing information? How do they know what is scientifically valid, appropriate to rely on and safe? Add to that keeping up with, understanding and interpreting the emerging rules from a regulatory perspective, and the landscape of information and data can be overwhelming. From the point of the consumer, one can only wonder how they can make informed decisions. It wasn’t all that long ago that the word “bacteria" was an omen of danger, illness or worse. Bacteria associated with foodborne illness, MRSA, C. diff, cholera and so on, was all the consumer heard from news sources. Those “bad" bacteria still exist, but now after the last 25 years or so, the concept of “good" bacteria has entered the consumer’s vocabulary. Their discussions over coffee and in grocery store aisles are about trying to determine how best to introduce these “good bacteria" to their families and their daily regimen.

That dialogue started when consumers began to learn that the yogurt or cheese they had been consuming was actually beneficial in many ways related to their overall health. They then began to learn and understand that they could introduce even more of these good bacteria by purchasing highly concentrated forms of them in capsules. Media outlets began touting their benefits and initial studies began to emerge that these good bacteria might actually impact their overall health and immunity.

The flow of information continues, data is constantly being developed and possibilities touted. However, the consumer now has to also contend with other questions: Does my capsule actually contain the levels stated? Is one strain better than two? Are two better than four? What strain produces benefits for my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? My immunity from flu? Inflammation? It is becoming increasingly obvious that many types of probiotics can address these issues, and research must continue to develop more information. The science addressing these questions must be done and validated, and clinical trials need to address specific issues and follow the protocols that can result in clearly defined results. The research into new strains and which strains can contribute to the diversity needed to address the various ailments must continue as well.

The class of bacteria known as Bacillus offers new unique beneficial bacteria that not only can be synergistic with the current strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, but also has unique, natural stability and an amazing range of metabolites (including enzymes) they can produce. These properties make Bacillus a valuable addition to the toolbox of probiotics that can potentially address many health issues.

A new unique strain of Bacillus subtilis, registered as OPTI-BIOME™ Bacillus subtilis MB40 is a food-grade probiotic that offers formulators and consumers a stable probiotic that can ensure label claims can be met, delivers additional support in digestive and other health areas, and provides food formulators the ability to incorporate stable probiotics into their foods—from drinks and bars to baked goods. The incorporation into foods is a way to offer the unique benefits of probiotics without adding to consumer pill fatigue.

MB40 can produce a wide variety of enzymes in response to the diet being consumed. Those enzymes are common enzymes required for digestion, including proteases, amylase, cellulases and lipases. It is also a part of a large class of emerging Bacillus which has been shown in vitro to produce metabolites that can challenge many common pathogens that affect consumers today in their food supply.

MB40 has been successfully tested in two large clinical trials for safety, digestive health and improvement in overall well-being. No adverse effects were associated with the consumption of capsules containing the MB40, and lab data from subjects in the trials demonstrated a potential trend in modulating cholesterol and triglycerides.

As a spore former, a natural question is how contract manufacturers can contain the spores and prevent them from contaminating other products and the facility. In two trial runs to make capsules for the clinical trials, following standard CIP protocols and containment practices employed during and after the manufacturing, no sign of spores was found or reported following swabs and in subsequent materials manufactured in the same equipment.

Combining world-class probiotics and enzymes into truly functional foods would have an enormous impact. Imagine combining the best long-distance runners (probiotics)—which can compete with bad bacteria and produce metabolites that enhance health—with the best sprinters (enzymes), which work to break down organic materials immediately in the stomach and digestive tract to provide not only nutrition to the body but also food to the probiotics to enhance their growth and overall ability to contribute benefits faster. Imagine a probiotic that can modulate triglycerides, combined with a lipase enzyme that breaks down dietary triglycerides so effectively that the triglyceride cannot be re-formed in the blood system. These realities are being researched today and will become part of the nutritional dialogue in the near future.

Bacillus probiotics have demonstrated safety, health benefits and the ability to be combined with other groundbreaking technologies. In addition, they offer opportunities to develop unique ways to deliver the benefits of probiotics through common food products.

Editor’s Note: Christopher Penet and Steve Lamb, Ph.D., are presenting the latest science in probiotics and digestive health at Probiotics Marketplace, April 18, as part of Ingredient Marketplace in Orlando Florida.

Steve Lamb Steve Lamb

Steve Lamb, Ph.D., earned his doctorate in microbial biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1974. For the past 40 years, he has worked in research and development (R&D) for various companies in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries. Lamb worked at Genencor International for more than 12 years, optimizing production processes for enzyme-producing microbes. Currently technical director at BIO-CAT Microbials, for the last seven years, he has worked to develop proprietary Bacillus-based solutions for crop and animal agriculture, bio-remediation and waste treatment applications.

Chris Penet Chris Penet

Chris Penet is vice president at Troy, Virginia-based BIO-CAT Microbials, where he oversees strategic planning, research and regulatory departments. Prior to BIO-CAT, Penet had a 20-year tenure with Genencor International (now DuPont), holding several positions, including global industry manager for the food and specialty enzymes business unit. He earned his master’s degree in food science from the University of Georgia and holds several patents in enzyme applications. Penet serves on the Virginia Biotechnology Association board of directors, the strategic planning committee for the Enzyme Technical Association and is a member of the biotechnology division of the Institute of Food Technologists.

Connect to BIO-CAT Microbials, booth #I36.