Good for body and earth

March 1, 2009
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Probiotics and other healthy-living products flirt with the line between food and pharmaceuticals, and food companies are taking steps to make sure both the containers they come in and the products themselves have positive outcomes.

A heat-resistant strain of probiotics should help deliver more good-for-you bacteria in Pierre’s new frozen yogurt. Source: Pierre’s Ice Cream Co.

As defined by the World Health Organization, probiotics are living organisms that confer a health benefit on the host. Typically they are bacteria strains that take up residence in the human intestine and promote regularity, enhanced immune systems and provide other benefits beyond simple nutrition. Clinical trials suggest some strains can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, though package claims to that effect are limited to products with plant sterols.

Whether or not a sufficient number of bacteria survive the manufacturing process, shipping and shelf storage and, finally, a person’s stomach acid determine whether any health benefit is delivered. Pierre’s Ice Cream Co. in Cleveland attempts to address the issue by using a spore-forming strain of Bacillus bacteria in Yovation, a frozen yogurt that began appearing in Wegman’s and other East Coast supermarkets after its local rollout in January.

Packed in quart-sized paper containers, Yovation improves on Pierre’s conventional yogurts by including Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086, a probiotic patented by Ganeden Biotech Inc., also of Cleveland. Besides B. coagulans’ ability to support healthy immune and digestive systems, the strain withstands the pressure and heat of manufacturing processes by forming dormant spores when stressed, explains Mike Bush, Ganeden’s vice president-business development. In trials involving muffins produced by Isabella’s Health Bakery, Cuyahoga Falls, OH, more than two-thirds of the cells survived baking at 350

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