The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) published a consensus definition of postbiotics at the end of 2020 to clear up ambiguities in the relatively new term.

ISAPP defines postbiotics as a preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers health benefits on the host. This definition essentially says that postbiotics are deliberately inactivated microbial cells or cell components, either with or without their metabolites, that provide a health benefit, according to Colin Hill, professor of microbiology, University College Cork, Ireland, who spoke at a recent Naturally Informed virtual event on the immunity and wellness market.

As with the definitions of probiotics and prebiotics, the ISAPP consensus on postbiotics states that use of the term must be linked to a health benefit. The definition includes the word “preparation” because the inactivation process and matrix may play a role in the functionality of the microbial biomass that comprises the postbiotic. The term “inanimate” was specifically used in the definition, rather than more common terms such as inactive or inert, which may suggest being ineffective.

“Postbiotics are a relatively new concept with increasing popularity,” said Anke Sentko, vice president regulatory affairs and nutrition communication, Beneo. “Because postbiotics are not live, they may be more stable and have a longer shelf life than live, active probiotics. Postbiotics may not require strict production or storage conditions to keep them alive but may have other challenges. For example, they need to reach their target organs like a drug delivery. Additionally, regulatory approval processes covering safety and efficacy need to be investigated.”

ADM recently introduced a postbiotic made by heat treating its BPL1 probiotic strain. It targets metabolic health through reduction in waist circumference and reduction tendency in abdominal visceral fat.

“The postbiotic can be added at any stage of the formulation process in bakery and snack applications, as it is more tolerant to harsh processing conditions than probiotics,” said June Lin, global vice president-marketing, health and wellness, ADM.

Cargill’s postbiotic is a whole food ingredient, meaning nothing is extracted or purified. The fermentation broth is simply dried and made into heat-stable powder.

“Our whole food fermentate is made through a natural, proprietary process that creates a unique fingerprint of metabolites,” said Justin Green, director of scientific affairs, Cargill Health Technologies. “More than a dozen published studies support its health benefits, supporting the immune system and beneficially modulating the gut microbiota.”

Angela Bonnema, senior scientist at Cargill, added that it can handle varying pH levels.

“The recommended dose is just 500 milligrams per day, making it easy to formulate into a wide variety of baked goods, snack bars and other foods,” she said “It brings a rich, brown color and unique molasses flavor to formulations and pairs well with ingredients like chocolate, vanilla and dark red fruits.”

This article is an excerpt from the February 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on pre- & postbiotics, click here.