The 411 on LGG

by Jeff Gelski
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Formulators wanting to know more about Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) are in luck.

"The effects of Lactobacillus GG in enhancing the immune system and reducing, for example, the occurrence of atopic symptoms in infants have been recorded in more than 320 scientific studies about the bacterium," said Tiina Mattila-Sandholm, a research professor and senior vice-president, research and development at Valio, Ltd. Based in Helsinki, Finland, Valio supplies LGG, a probiotic.

Valio and Dannon, Inc. have signed an agreement under which Dannon will use LGG in its Danimals children’s yogurts and drinkable yogurts in the United States. Before the agreement, the probiotic was available solely in capsule form in the United States. Dannon promotes the probiotic’s effect on gastrointestinal function, the function of the immune system and the maintenance of oral health.

This decade such publications as the British Medical Journal, Caries Research and Allergy have reported on research involving LGG. Studies continue on functional lactic acid bacteria such as LGG.

"We have developed a combination of four probiotics, one component of which is LGG," Dr. Mattila-Sandholm said. "Research has shown that the combination, LGGPlus, markedly alleviated the symptoms of test subjects suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. In fact, 75% of those who received LGGPlus felt that their stomach symptoms were alleviated."

Valio Ltd. is a dairy cooperative and has subsidiaries in the United States, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Belgium and Latvia.

Probiotics are defined as "live organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host," in guidelines provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization. The American Academy of Microbiology recommends health claims made on probiotic product labels be backed up with convincing experimental proof. The A.A.M. argues for closer regulatory supervision by such groups as the Food and Drug Administration.

Probiotics often are found in drinkable yogurts, which saw 18% global sales growth from mid-year 2005 to mid-year 2006, according to "What’s Hot around the Globe: Insights on Growth in Food & Beverage Products," a report from ACNielsen Global Services. Drinkable yogurt sales growth in the United States was 5%.

"Yogurt-based drinks topped the list in terms of value growth, fueled by single-serving products and health trends toward probiotics," the report said.

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