Probiotic cereals - Arla business creates stable bacteria for new foods

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Probiotic bacteria Probiotic Immune system

A coating technology, first used to keep cookies crisp, may be the
key to opening up new applications for probiotic bacteria like
cereals or ice-cream.

Most foods containing probiotic bacteria are found in the refrigerated section of supermarkets as the bacteria is destroyed by heat and other processing conditions.

This has given the dairy sector, already used to handling live bacteria for the manufacture of yoghurt, a major advantage in probiotic foods - probiotic drinking yoghurts are currently the fastest growing dairy product in Europe.

However Swedish probiotics producer Medipharm revealed at a conference last month that it is planning to launch a coated bacteria that can resist the damaging conditions in ambient foods like cereals, or even the low temperatures of ice-cream.

The Arla Foods subsidiary worked with Sensient Flavors, the Nordic division of US-based Sensient Technologies, to create a probiotic that remains stable when stored in dry conditions at room temperature for six months.

The coating layer contains Medipharm's Lactobacillus F19, already available in Arla's Culture brand, and shown in studies to boost the immune system, according to Kerstin Holmgren, R&D manager at Medipharm.

"We eat a lot of yoghurts in Scandinavia but in other countries people aren't so interested and they may not like taking supplements either.

This is an opportunity to add probiotics to other foods like cereals and maybe nutrition bars as well," she told

She added: "In capsules the environment is good because the water activity is very low at below 0.2.

But in cereals the water activity could be as high as 0.5, which is very bad for bacteria.

Cereals can also have a high sugar content that would also damage bactiera."

The firm is in talks with potential customers in the EU and United States.

"I think new foods could be on the market by the end of the year," said Holmgren.

The technology is based on a technique designed by Sensient some years ago to encapsulate pieces of cookies so that when added to ice-cream they stayed crispy.

Medipharm and its US partner have made some modifications for the probiotic bacteria.

The coating is made from a common food fat.

Only 1 gram of the coating has to be consumed to get the daily dose of probiotic bacteria.

The team has also worked on taste, key to a new product's success.

"It tastes a lot like Digestive biscuits," said Holmgren, adding that the ingredient is a yellowy colour thanks to Sensient's participation.

The ingredient is not yet available on the market and details on the marketing have yet to be decided.

But the news follows the announcement from another probiotic supplier, Chr Hansen, earlier this month, which said it had found a way of adding probiotic bacteria to chilled juices, with the help of TetraPak machinery.

New technologies may finally be on the way to allow other sectors to benefit from strong consumer demand for probiotics.

External links to companies or organisations mentioned in thisstory: Medipharm Sensient Technologies

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