New FCC appendix offers probiotic specifications

by Jeff Gelski
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ROCKVILLE, MD. — Specifications such as identification and enumeration (microbe count) are included in “Microbial Food Cultures Including Probiotics,” a new Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) appendix. The appendix also offers information on intended uses in food, safety, regulatory status and purity of probiotics and other microbial food cultures. The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) publishes the FCC, an international compendium of quality specifications for food ingredients.

Properly identifying probiotics is important because safety studies often are based on the genus/species or strain level, according to the USP. Manufacturers should know exactly which microorganism they are incorporating into their food product to ensure safety. Enumeration is important because any claimed health effects supported by study trial data would be specific to intake level.

The appendix may be found at

“Testing for identity is difficult with probiotics, and this is a key area where public standards provided in the Food Chemicals Codex can be of significant value across the food, nutritional and consumer products industries,” said Praveen Tyle, chief science officer for USP. “These are standards that all parties can use. With more manufacturers incorporating probiotics in products beyond yogurts based on rising consumer interest, scrutiny of health claims will grow, as will global sourcing of ingredients.

“We believe additional measures for determining identity and overall quality will be useful in protecting consumers and manufacturers alike.”

New standards to help ensure the quality of probiotic food ingredients are being proposed for public review and comment. The draft standards will be included in the FCC.

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