Adding probiotics, or healthy bacteria, to products may help grain-based foods manufacturers target consumers interested in healthy digestion and immunity. Keeping probiotics alive, and also effective, in baked foods is the tricky part. Baking probiotics tends to kill them. Thus, these healthy bacteria are more apt to survive in dairy products such as yogurt.

Still, grain-based foods manufacturers are continually finding ways to include probiotics in readyto-eat (RTE) cereals, cookies, muffins, bars and bread. A probiotic that involves spores also shows promise in surviving the baking process, potentially opening the probiotic marketing door even wider for grain-based foods.

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live micro-organics, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” While some surveys show little awareness of probiotics among US consumers, other surveys reveal consumer interest in digestion. According to the International Food Information Council’s “2008 Food and Health Survey,” 76% of US consumers agreed that specific foods or beverages may improve digestion.

Europeans may have a better understanding of probiotics, but the market shows potential in North America, according to Frost & Sullivan. The global research firm, headquartered at Mountain View, CA, released the report “Strategic Analysis of the North American Probiotics Market: Human Nutrition” in August 2007. The report said of Canada and the US, “This region has tremendous potential with attractive growth rates for both probiotic foods and probiotic supplements. The high entry barriers, great degree of product differentiation and overall modest switching costs provide ample opportunities to gain a piece of the rapidly growing market pie.”

According to a recent online survey performed by Kelton Research, Los Angeles, CA, and commissioned by Kraft Foods, Inc., Northfield, IL, 63% of Americans are not at all familiar with probiotics and only 13% of the survey respondents familiar with probiotics could define them accurately. Kraft Foods still showed faith in the probiotic market in July by launching LiveActive Chewy Granola Bars, a nonrefrigerated bar containing a live probiotic culture from Probi AB, a biotech company based in Lund, Sweden, that develops and patents probiotic strains for use in nutritional products.

US sales of foods or beverages with probiotics reached $1.5 billion for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 9, up nearly 37% from $1.1 billion in the previous 52-week period, according to The Nielsen Co., New York, NY. The sales covered US food, drug and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, AR.

Only a couple of grain-based food categories showed more than $1 million in probiotic sales. Ready-to-eat cereal with probiotics recorded sales of $10 million for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 9, up from $2.7 million in the previous 52-week period. Nielsen for the first time kept track of probiotic-enhanced bread sales, which were $2 million for the 52-week period ended Aug. 9.

SURVIVING AND COLONIZING. Several grain-based foods manufacturers are using the probiotic Ganeden-BC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086). This bacteria remains dormant in the product until it enters the intestines and begins to germinate and produce offspring, according to Mike Bush, vice-president of business development for Ganeden Biotech, Inc., Cleveland, OH. Clinical trials have shown GanedenBC30 interacts with the digestive system through a number of mechanisms that contribute to digestive and immune health, according to Ganeden Biotech.

An independent panel of scientists in December 2007 awarded self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for the patented probiotic GanedenBC30 for use as an ingredient in food products. Main Street Gourmet, Cuyahoga Falls, OH, in June introduced Activate, a raisin bran muffin fortified with GanedenBC30.
The 4-pack clamshells sell under Main Street’s retail division, Isabella’s Healthy Bakery. Main Street Gourmet, a manufacturer of gourmet frozen bakery products, specializes in the custom formulations for regional and national restaurant chains.

“At first I was a bit skeptical,” said Harvey Nelson, c.e.o. of Main Street Gourmet. “However, after collaborating with Ganeden Labs, we were able to do something no company had done before. We found a method to add probiotic bacteria to our mixing and baking process without affecting the muffin’s taste or texture. That’s a big deal in the baking business.”

The muffins are baked at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes and then immediately frozen, Mr. Bush said. After they are thawed at the store, the Activate muffins have a shelf life of five days, said Monica Curtis of Isabella’s Healthy Bakery.

Although no government standards are in place concerning the effectiveness of probiotics in humans, a serving of a product may contain millions or billions of probiotic colony-forming units (cfus). About 650 million cfus of GanadenBC30 survive to the end of the muffin’s shelf life.

“GanedenBC30 stands apart from other traditional probiotics because it is spore-forming — meaning that inside the bacterial cell is a hardened structure, or spore, which is similar to a seed,” said Sean Farmer, co-founder and chief scientist of Ganeden. “This spore, or seed, protects the cell’s genetic material during manufacturing, shelf life and digestive transit.

“Other traditional probiotics are not able to form these protective spores, making them more vulnerable,” he continued. “Because of its unique composition, GanedenBC30 is able to reach the intestines in greater numbers and begins to colonize better than many other current probiotic strains available.” GanedenBC30 also will be added to cookies. A partnership announced in November between Toronto, ONbased Commercial Bakeries Corp. and Ganeden Biotech will produce a variety of probiotic-enhanced cookies. Commercial Bakeries Corp. manufactures cookie products, including sandwich, wire-cut and rotary cookies, for private labels in the US and Canada.

“For the first time, we have the ability to produce baked foods with the added benefit of powerful, health-promoting probiotics,” said Phillip Fusco, vice-president of Commercial Bakeries Corp. “Probiotics aren’t limited to the yogurt section any longer.”

Simon M. Cutting, PhD, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of London, has studied probiotic spores. He said in his experiences they may survive temperatures as high as 176 or 194°F (80 or 90°C). “Above this they will be killed after maybe 10 minutes,” he said.

These probiotics include Bacillus subtilis, B. clausii, B. coagulans and B. licheniformis. Many animal studies have been done on probiotics spores, he said and added some studies with humans have involved B. subtilis, according to Dr. Cutting.


Microencapsulating probiotics is another way to add this healthy bacteria to certain foods and beverages. Montreal, QB-based Lallemand, Inc. turns to Probiocap, a patented microencapsulation technology, to allow probiotics to withstand higher temperatures for greater periods of time, said James Kopp, vice-president of nutritional food ingredients for Lallemand based in Overland Park, KS. For example, encapsulated probiotics inside chocolate may survive at 108°F (42°C) for two weeks.

Strains available for such microencapsulation include Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11, L. helveticus Rosell-52 and Bifidobacterium longum Rosell-175.

“We’re focused on the baking industry and trying to provide several avenues for the use of probiotics,” Mr. Kopp said. “That market just continues to grow astronomically.”

Lallemand seeks to find ways in which its baking industry customers may capitalize on “low hanging fruit,” or easier ways to add probiotics to their products, Mr. Kopp said. Examples are cremes, coatings or any other elements that may be added to a product after it is baked.

Peanut butter shows promise for probiotic inclusion because of its high amount of fat and protein, a positive environment for probiotic survival. Mr. Kopp added that whether or not customers want to spend extra on probiotic encapsulation will depend on such factors as the application, the desired number of probiotic cell-forming units per serving, the shelf life of the product, whether or not the product will be refrigerated and the amount of fat and protein in the product. No regulations exist on how many cfus should be in a serving, but 1 billion is a good amount to have, according to Mr. Kopp.

TAKE WATER INTO ACCOUNT. The water activity of a product will also affect probiotic survival. Connie Sindelar, probiotic format development manager for Danisco’s Cultures division in Madison, WI, recommended that formulators should strive for as low as water activity as possible, especially when working with freeze-dried probiotic powder, which is alive but not active. Water may partially rehydrate the powder and make it active or facilitate degradative chemical reactions, thus endangering the probiotic’s ability to survive until the end of a product’s shelf life.

Probiotics survive well in chocolate because of its low water activity, Ms. Sindelar said. The same goes for RTE cereal. Incorporating probiotics into bread is more challenging because of its high water activity.

Examples of adding probiotics to grain-based foods after they are baked include sprinkles on top of a product and cookie fillings, she said. Danisco offers probiotics for grain-based food inclusion under the brand names Howaru Bifido and Howaru Dophilus. Either Bifidobacteria or Lactobacilli, Howaru probiotics are found in Attune Probiotic Wellness Bars launched in 2007 by Attune Foods, San Francisco, CA. The chocolate and granola bars are stored in the refrigerated yogurt aisle of retail outlets, which keeps the probiotics in them alive for eight months from the date of manufacture. The probiotics will remain active for two weeks unrefrigerated at room temperatures.

Companies may use structure-function claims with products when using these Howaru probiotics, Ms. Sindelar said.

“Depending on the Howaru probiotic and dose you choose, you may say the product contains probiotics, which are clinically proven to enhance the body’s natural microflora or support a healthy immune system,” she said.
Howaru probiotics have undergone in vitro, in vivo and human clinical studies. Howaru probiotic strains have shown tolerance to the low pH of the stomach, resistance to bile salts, an ability to survive the gastrointestinal environment and high adherence to intestinal cells. Danisco’s ? Web site provides information on the company’s probiotics in six languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch and Chinese.

“It’s an exciting area to be in right now, just because there is so much interest,” Ms. Sindelar said. “We have a little way to go in making the public more aware that probiotics are good for you and necessary for helping you to maintain your gut health as well as your immune system.”