The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published new research on whether probiotic bacteria can survive in the digestive system.
The UK market for probiotics -- the friendly bacteria that promote gut health and improve immune function -- is one of the fastest-growing in the UK already worth over £143m according to market researcher Mintel.
But doubts have been raised in the past about whether the bacteria added to food products actually survive the rigours of food processing, distribution and finally digestion.
The FSA project looked only at the ability of commercial strains of probiotic bacteria to survive in conditions that mimic those in the intestinal tract, a procedure difficult to achieve in the lab. Probiotic bacteria found in 11 different probiotic products were tested.
The research carried out at the University of Reading showed that not all bacterial strains survived digestion. However the strains were studied individually and the researchers admitted they may perform better when in combination with other strains or when in the presence of other beneficial ingredients, such as milk proteins or lactose.
The report concludes that a thorough in vivo investigation of the probiotic strains, as well as more information on their impact on the immune system would be required to achieve a comprehensive probiotic review.
For more details visit http://www.food.gov.uk