CHICAGO — Barry Callebaut has launched ProBenefit, an industrial chocolate enhanced with probiotic bacterial cultures that help to restore the balance of intestinal flora, for the North American market. The product, available in dark and milk chocolate, may work in a range of food manufacturing applications. It does not have to be refrigerated and has a shelf life of up to 1 year.

"We know that most Americans are concerned about their well-being and are taking steps to eat more healthy," said Rich Benson, director of research and development for Barry Callebaut. "Food products that feature ProBenefit allow them to do that, while also enjoying the indulgence of fine chocolate."

Barry Callebaut developed a production system that ensures a homogenous blend of probiotics in chocolate within a restricted temperature range. The company conducted studies to evaluate the survival of probiotics in chocolate.

"While probiotics have been used in dairy foods like yogurt for some time, our studies have found that chocolate is a superior carrier for the intestinal delivery of probiotic bacteria," Mr. Benson said.

Barry Callebaut originally launched probiotic chocolate produced on industrial scale at Food Ingredients Europe 2007 in London. The company cooperated with the Lallemand group, a producer of probiotics, to create that functional chocolate.