Bakers for over a decade have learned about how prebiotics and probiotics offer health benefits, especially for digestion. Now, they may be hearing about another term: postbiotics, which are heat-stable and thus will survive in baked foods.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit, according to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP). Prebiotics, which include fiber ingredients, serve as food for beneficial microbes/probiotics in the body. Research continues to gain insight on how prebiotic ingredients benefit probiotic ingredients.

A panel for the ISAPP recently defined a postbiotic as a “preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host.”

“Postbiotics differ from probiotics in that they don’t contain living microorganisms,” said Nick Kruczynski, business development director, microbiome solutions, food and beverage for Chicago-based ADM. “Rather, they are inanimate, yet still offer functionality. Postbiotics are emerging as important products in the food industry because of their ability to withstand harsh processing conditions like high heat in baking.”



Both ADM and Cargill have expanded their postbiotic ingredient offerings. The topic came up in ADM’s global investor day on Dec. 10.

“They can be produced outside our body and then being added to food and beverages to modulate our gut landscape, and that becomes possible because they are heat-stable biotics,” said Mark Lotsch, president of Global Health & Wellness for ADM. “And ADM is on the pioneering edge of this new postbiotics category that opens up so many opportunities in food, in beverage, in pet solutions. “

ADM offers probiotic and postbiotic ingredients that work well within a variety of grain-based applications, including bread and cereal, Mr. Kruczynski said.

“For instance, DE111 is our Bacillis subtilis strain, which has been studied in nine human clinical trials related to digestive health, immune health and more,” he said. “DE111 is a spore-forming probiotic, which means it can survive different formulation conditions that may damage conventional lactic acid bacteria-based probiotics.”

Minneapolis-based Cargill in 2018 acquired EpiCor, a supplier of postbiotic ingredients. EpiCor now is part of Cargill Health Technologies, a business within Cargill.

“With over a dozen published studies including multiple human clinical trials, EpiCor postbiotic is a well-researched ingredient,” said Cashtyn Lovan, marketing manager for Cargill.

Earlier in 2021 Cargill partnered with The Harris Poll to gain insight into consumers’ understanding of issues around digestive health and immunity, she said. The survey found 35% of respondents associated postbiotics with a healthy gut and 28% said they knew postbiotics help support immunity.

“Those results are encouraging as postbiotics are still new to the consumer marketplace,” Ms. Lovan said. “In fact, it was only this year that the International Scientific Association for Prebiotics and Probiotics (ISAPP) published a consensus definition, making postbiotics a globally recognized category.”

Probiotics are less stable than postbiotics because they must remain alive, all the way from processing and packaging until they reach the consumer’s gut, said Angela Bonnema, PhD, senior scientist for Cargill.

“As a result, it is much more challenging to ensure they survive and ultimately start producing their health-benefiting components,” she said. “In contrast, postbiotics are produced through fermentation outside the body, under highly controlled conditions. They are heat-tolerant and highly stable, making them easy to work with and incorporate into baked goods and other food and beverage products.

She added, “With a recommended dose of just 500 mg per day, it is easy to formulate EpiCor postbiotic into breads, snack bars and other foods. It brings a rich, brown color and unique savory flavor to formulations, and pairs well with ingredients like chocolate, vanilla and dark red fruits. In the food space, we’ve created great-tasting prototypes using EpiCor postbiotic in applications such as chocolate bites and granola bars.”


Probiotic-prebiotic Partnership

A partnership between Lallemand Health Solutions, a business of Montreal-based Lallemand, and FrieslandCampina Ingredients is advancing the connection between probiotics and prebiotics. The two companies in September unveiled two new gut health products: Pro-Digest Health Shot and Pro-Digest Bowel Support. Both products contain 5 grams of the Biotis GOS prebiotic ingredient from FrieslandCampina Ingredients, Amersfoort, The Netherlands. The Pro-Digest Health Shot also contains 5 billion colony forming units (CFUs) of Bifidobacterium lactis Lafti B94 from Lallemand Health Solutions per serving while the Pro-Digest Bowel Support contains 10 billion CFUs of Lacticaseibacillus paracasei HA-196 from Lallemand Health Solutions.

Such prebiotic-probiotic partnerships could impact grain-based foods.

“It would certainly be possible for a probiotics company to team up with a prebiotics company to create an ingredient that would benefit digestion and immunity in baked foods,” said Berengere Feuz, marketing director for Lallemand Health Solutions. “The current proposed combinations with FrieslandCampina Ingredients can be used for food applications without stringent heating process.”

Lallemand Health Solutions has done research on how specific probiotic strains might work synergistically with specific prebiotics, she said. Scientists in a 2016 clinical study investigated the efficacy of B. lactis Lafti B94, with or without inulin, in children and teenagers. The four-week experiment involved 71 children from the ages of 4 to 16. Twice a day they took a prebiotic (inulin), a probiotic (B. lactis Lafti B94) or a synbiotic (both inulin and B. lactis Lafti B94). At the end of the month, multiple parameters were monitored: postprandial swelling, belching/abdominal distension, mucoid defecation, difficulty in defecation, feeling of incomplete defecation and urgent defecation. The results showed an improvement of all parameters in the probiotic group and an even greater improvement of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in the symbiotic group, Ms. Feuz said.

ADM/Matsutani, LLC, a joint venture between ADM, Matsutani Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. and Matsutani America, Inc., offers Fibersol as a prebiotic dietary fiber ingredient that benefits probiotics, Mr. Krucynski said.

“ADM/Matsutani LLC’s Fibersol, which is a cutting-edge prebiotic dietary fiber solution, can help nourish the intestinal flora to support a healthy intestinal tract environment,” he said. “As such, manufacturers can highlight innovative solutions like Fibersol that support a balanced gastrointestinal tract to inform health-conscious shoppers looking for these benefits.

“Moreover, Fibersol is a fantastic solution for breads and baked goods as it’s highly soluble, heat- and acid-stable and has a neutral taste. Fibersol is incredibly versatile, expanding opportunities for new, convenient ways to consume fiber in the grain-based space, without sacrificing an enjoyable eating experience.”

He pointed to 2021 data from FMCG Gurus, a market research company based in St. Albans, United Kingdom, showing of the 87% of US consumers interested in products with ingredients that may support immune function, 65% specifically are interested in fiber.


Probiotics That Can Take the Heat

Some probiotic ingredients have been shown to survive in baked foods.

Lallemand has developed a microencapsulation protective technology (Process-Protect) that allows bacteria to support transient compression and some (limited) heat exposure, allowing to integrate them in chocolate for instance, Ms. Feuz said.

“Baked products remain challenging because of the high temperatures involved in the process, but heat-treated bacteria (also known as tyndallized bacteria) could be considered and they do have some immunity-related mechanisms as well as our best option for baked goods: Bacillus subtilis Rosell-179,” she said.

Lallemand has added the bacterial strain into the dough of a bread recipe containing a variety of healthy ingredients such as wheat flour and bean flour, sesame seed, sunflower seed, and spirulina, together with xanthan gum, yeast, and ascorbic acid, she said.

“The evaluation showed great survival rates in the bread at room temperature after 14 days,” Ms. Feuz said. “Even at high baking temperature, the probiotic dose remained well over 1 billion (CFUs) per 100-gram serving. Also, organoleptic characteristics were evaluated in comparison with control, and no difference was noted in smell, color, or taste.

“Other tests demonstrated that after undergoing extreme heating and after one year of shelf life, the probiotic strain remained stable. This demonstrates the potential to add B. subtilis Rosell179 in many foodstuffs such as baked goods, breads, cookies, bars, dry mixes, but also beverage, kombucha, soda, juice, snacks, granola, etc.”

ADM expanded its presence in the probiotics category in November by completing its purchase of Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes, a global provider of dietary supplements using probiotic, prebiotic and enzyme technology, including a line of 12 branded products serving customers in areas such as digestive health, immune health, women’s health, food intolerance, sports nutrition, cellular repair, and systemic and cardiovascular health.

“The company’s products and solutions include multiple spore-forming probiotics with targeted health benefits,” Mr. Kruczynski said. “Deerland has an exciting biotics innovation pipeline that complements ADM’s world-class food and beverage product development capabilities.”

He added ADM’s Outside Voice research shows over half of global consumers said they were aware of the potential benefits the gut microbiome has on overall health.

“As such, with consumers’ growing awareness of the fundamental role that the gut microbiome has on individual aspects of health, including immune function, gut health, mental well-being and more, many people are recognizing the need to support their digestive system,” Mr. Kruczynski said. “Specifically, consumers are linking microbiome-supporting ingredients like probiotics to a wide range of benefits, with gut health the most prominent and overall well-being following close behind. This presents an opportunity for brands to incorporate biotics in their food and beverage offerings to enhance consumer appeal and entice shopper purchase.”