Danisco's probiotics fall within its global cultures division, which screens culture strains to pin point the best strain for a particular use. The new addition is the fifth in its trademarked Howaru range, which also includes Dophilus, Rhamnosus and Bifido - variously studied for their immune-modulating properties and efficacy on gut health - and Restore, which has been seen to aid recovery of gastrointestinal flora after a course of antibiotics. The company said that the new formulation has delivered positive results in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study in China, involving 248 children at day care centers near Shanghai. From the 26-week study, conducted from November to May last year (when children are particularly susceptible to colds and 'flu), Professor Shuguang Li from the medical College of Tongji in Shanghai concluded that the probiotic reduced sick days by almost half, and slashed prescriptions of antibiotics for the under-fives by 80 per cent. NutraIngredients.com has not seen the full design or results of the study, but Saadane-Oaks said that it "reinforces the promising future of probiotics for human health". "We have started to explore the applications of Howaru Protect for the specific needs of the food, dietary supplements and pharmaceutical industries," she said. According to UNICEF, a global average of 16 per cent of children under five suffer from acute respiratory infections. The company says Howaru Protect represents an efficient preventive solution to reduce the level of symptoms from flu-like infections among this particularly fragile population. Until now, manufacturers have tend to err on the side of caution and make only nebulous claims on the benefits of probiotics. But the bacteria are widely expected to benefit from the new EU legislation on health claims, especially as companies like Danisco are doing their utmost to ensure they have a strong slate of science to back up their efficacy. Saadane-Oaks, president of Danisco Cultures, told NutraIngredients.com in year that she expects that health claims will clarify the message for the consumer. "We have a continuous pipeline of health efficacy studies," she said, "and this has been our strategy from the start."