#CFUMatters for Probiotics

Authors: Rajesh Salem

As a consumer of probiotics, you would notice a plethora of brands, benefit claims and forms in which probiotics are offered in the market. Navigating and evaluating the probiotic label could be daunting. In this blog, we will explore what the end-consumers should consider and how the producers of probiotics can deliver on their customer’s expectations.

Producing and delivering probiotics commercially is a very complex process with lots of factors influencing the quality, quantity and economics of the finished product. One of the most important aspects of the finished product is the Colony Forming Unit (CFU). CFU represents the best estimate of the number of living organisms in a sample. Now, let’s explore its relevance to consumers and producers of probiotics.

Consumer Perspective

Consumers who are shopping for probiotics should read the label carefully in the evaluation process. Key items to watch for include CFU, expiration date, name of the organism(s) and the specific health benefit claimed by the product. In general, for people with good health and considering probiotics as a daily supplement, 10 billion CFUs is a good place to start. While it is important to look at the quantity i.e. CFU, it is equally important to make sure that the organisms are alive and effective when it enters your gut. More is not always good. As always, it is better to consult your doctor who can recommend the right organism and dosage depending on your health and intended use.

Producer Perspective

CFU is one of the metrics all producers measure and try to maximize during production. The counts for each microorganism vary, as each one is very unique in its nutrient consumption, growth and stability. While higher CFU is always desirable during production stage, it is critical to make sure that the microorganisms are stable and survive the downstream production process and effective at the intended time of use in the gut. Hence, the real metric that producers should care about is the effective CFU available during the shelf life of the finished product.

Nutritional Partner Perspective

Many producers of probiotics have well respected fermentation and nutritional experts in their staff who are constantly working on improving CFU in lab and commercial production. Many producers also rely on outside partners who can provide specialized media formulation or nutritional recipe tailored to the needs of the specific microorganism. Just like humans, microorganisms consume sugar, salt, vitamins, nitrogen and other sources of energy in different forms and quantities; however, the media has to be balanced to achieve the target CFU.

In summary, as long as you are involved in probiotics, directly or indirectly as a consumer, producer, or as a nutritional partner, #CFUMatters for your personal and business health!

Sensient Global BioNutrients has successfully partnered with leading probiotic producers to offer tailored nutritional solutions to improve CFU growth and stability.

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