Probiotic-Foods blog

Probiotic-Foods blog

Un chien qui mange des crottes continuera à le faire...

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 03/16/15

« Un chien qui mange des crottes continuera à le faire, même s’il est très fortement réprimandé », dit un ancien proverbe, faisant référence aux difficultés associées au contrôle de cette manie déplorable. Cependant, dans certains cas, l’ingestion de probiotiques pourrait apporter une solution simple et instantanée à ce problème. En effet, le chien qui adopte un tel comportement y est poussé par le besoin d’équilibrer son microbiote gastro-intestinal (Macouzet, 2015). L’intérêt d’éliminer ce comportement, tient bien sûr aux règles qu’impose la bienséance chez l’humain et qui placent le maître dans l’embarras, mais, aussi et surtout, au danger encouru par le chien d’attraper des maladies potentiellement mortelles, surtout d’origine virale, s’il mange les crottes d’un chien malade.

Le fait de manger des crottes est un comportement normal qui, dans leur milieu naturel, apportait certains bénéfices aux chiens. Cela est clairement illustré dans une étude qui montre une diminution significative du risque de souffrir de la diarrhée chez les chiens qui sont en contact quotidien avec des excréments de chevaux et de bétail (Stavisky et al, 2011).

Pour d’autres animaux comme les lapins et les chinchillas, le fait de manger leurs crottes est vital, car ce sont les bactéries qui poussent dans leurs déjections qui vont rendre disponibles certains nutriments indispensables pour ces espèces.

Références :

Macouzet, M (2015) Nourriture probiotique pour chiens. Probiotic Intelligentsia en français 4(1) :14-27

Stavisky, A; Radford, AD; Gaskell, R et al (2011). A case-control study of pathogen and lifestyle risk factors for diarrhoea in dogs. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 99:185-192

Existing probiotic products backed by clinical tests

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 06/17/13

Scientific studies have shown that probiotics could impart a series of health benefits to consumers. Based on this fact, many probiotic blends have been launched and a number of food processing companies have supplemented their products with probiotic microorganisms as a marketing strategy. 

It is known, however; that the development of a probiotic product is not an easy task but it involves a good deal of expertise, an integrated approach and several levels of validation. Indeed, the positive health action of probiotics depends on different factors such as the microbial strain, dose of viable cells, composition of the delivery matrix and the physiological state of the consumer among other factors. Therefore, the potential health benefits of a probiotic product are uncertain if it has not been subjected to clinical tests in its final form. Moreover, the results of clinical tests represent very specific conditions that cannot be extrapolated to other circumstances. In fact, most clinical tests do not result in the approval of a health claim by regulation authorities. 

Basically, approved health claims constitute just a guide for consumers but should not be regarded as universal criteria for the selection of probiotic products by health professionals, who can judge by themselves about the applicability of a product based on valid clinical tests. 

This study works toward the identification of probiotic supplements or foods that are backed by published clinical tests, even if they have not been awarded an approved health claim. The analysis of the collected data will provide valuable information to support decision making of health practitioners and manufacturers of probitic products.

Do you know about any of those products? Please share your information to maximize the value of the study. It will be interesting to know: the brand name, company, country, type of product, claimed health benefit and, overall, the references of published works. Please feel free to comment below or email me if you have files to attach: 

Emotions and feelings; a step forward in probiotics positioning

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 01/09/13

Considering the worldwide tightening of health claim regulation policies, the emotion-based-positioning approach comes forward as a suitable strategy applicable to probiotic products.

Defining the positioning strategy and goal is a delicate task that requires a good deal of intuition and multidisciplinary teamwork. Positioning is especially critical and delicate in the case of probiotic food products, given the nature of the potential health benefits. Since food products are not medicines, the benefits attributed to probiotics in foods will generally be subtle. The associated image should therefore also be subtle and compatible with the scope of the intended benefits. While scientific evidence supporting the different benefits imparted by probiotics can be used in the positioning strategy, the nature of the health benefits makes it advisable not to over-emphasize this cognitive aspect, but rather to incorporate affective elements based on emotions or feelings associated with the expected benefit.

Appropriate positioning is essential for determining the success of a new probiotic product. However, due to its soft nature, this concept is often neglected until the final steps of product development, incorporated as final adjustments to product characteristics. In the case of probiotic-containing products, this is a big mistake to be avoided at all costs. Positioning should be defined and clearly stated right from the beginning, making sure that everyone in the product development team has the same understanding, since it will guide development as well as influence and limit choices regarding formulation, packaging, validation and marketing strategy, among others.

It is often said that times of crisis are times of opportunities. If the health claims policies ere giving you a headache, then it is time to adjust your positioning strategy. This might make all the difference!


 Macouzet, M. 2012. Alternatives for communicating the health benefits of probiotics. Probiotic Intelligentsia 1(2):15-27

Macouzet, M (2012). Critical aspects of developing novel food products with probiotics. Probiotic Intelligentsia 1(1):1-12

Bypassing health claims regulation, a growing temptation for probiotics marketers

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 12/04/12

Given the difficulties associated with the approval of health claims, certain companies have found a way to imply a health benefit without having to pass through the approval process. Although the original intention of these companies might not have been to deceive consumers, the implicit evocation of the health benefit could actually mislead certain consumers even more. Once considered original and ingenious, some of these approaches are now frowned upon and therefore not recommended as ethical means of communicating potential health benefits.

At the Institute for the Development of Probiotic Food Products, we have identified some of these controversial measures and we have analysed its pertinence. Among the typical examples of these tactics is the renaming of probiotic strains to give them suggestive Latinised names (discussed in a previous post). Another classical example is challenging consumers to demonstrate an undetermined health effect, such as the “try it for two weeks and get your money back if you don’t feel the change”, which is misleading if not accompanied with a clear health claim statement.

Evocation of a potential health benefit through the use of images is one of the most widely used and delicate tactics with the potential of bypassing health claims. Indeed, pictures and graphics can convey a health benefit message as well as and often better than any written claim. However, without the accompanying claim in direct language, an image may be misinterpreted by consumers.

International regulatory standards clearly indicate that implying a health benefit through the use of images is to be considered a health claim, however; the point at which an image becomes effective is very subjective and therefore difficult to regulate and control. While written claims can be controlled through authorisation of exact wording on labels and advertising, the possibilities for images are infinite and any subtle evocation of the intended health benefit could easily be introduced into marketing campaigns. Regrettably, evocation of health claims through images is now omnipresent in the functional food market, and its negative consequences may be imminent.

These are just some of the persuasive tactics that some have used and others are willing to adopt. For those exploring the most suitable strategy, I have a recommendation: avoid temptation! There are legitimate approaches to communicate health benefits to consumers even without having an authorized health claim.

Reference: Macouzet, M. 2012. Alternatives for communicating the health benefits of probioticsProbiotic Intelligentsia 1(2):15-27

Health communication, a must for probiotic food products

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 11/19/12

Producing a probiotic product will be of interest to a food company only if it allows the application of premium prices or translates into a substantial increase in market share. On the other hand, consumers will opt for the product only when motivated by the expectation of health benefits. A minimal condition for a brand to meet with success in the market is making the consumer aware of how he or she might benefit from consuming the product and thereby convincing him or her that the extra cost is justified.

Communication of the expected health benefits is generally done by the company through so-called “health claims”. The health claim is viewed as the most powerful marketing tool for functional food products, since it justifies the preference of the proposed consumption over traditional consumption. This tool appears to be more important in the case of probiotic products than for most other health-food ingredients. The reasons for this stem from factors such as lower consumer awareness and the plurality of the associated health benefits.

As observed by the Institute for the Development of Probiotic Food Products, there is much confusion among consumers, in particular with regard to multiple health benefits associated with probiotics, which appears to foster scepticism. Statistics showing a steady rise in probiotic awareness to the current levels of over 80% should be taken with extreme reserve. These data tend to mask the truth: people are getting familiar with the term “probiotics” but there is a prevalence of ignorance with increasing confusion and scepticism.

 Conclusion: while the power of health claims is incontestable, the adoption of more effective communication strategies is necessary in the case of probiotic food products.


Macouzet, M. 2012. Alternatives for communicating the health benefits of probiotics. Probiotic Intelligentsia 1(2):15-27

Third-party scientific and educational information; an emerging need for the industry of probiotics

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 10/29/12

The fact that communicating health benefits is critical for developing the probiotic foods market has created a sort of panic in companies that have limited means of obtaining approval for health claims or otherwise conveying the desired message to the targeted consumers. This has spurred the investigation of new avenues of communication.

A health claim is little more than a stiff, consumer-unfriendly sentence that contributes very little to consumer education. Probiotics industry associations have therefore attempted to pass the pertinent information on to consumers through websites of their own creation. The neutrality of the information thus offered is obviously questionable, as is the validity of the strategy. To be acceptable, the information must come from a truly third-party organization, which should be an independent reputable institution devoted to the pursuit of knowledge.

It has been shown that consumer demand for functional foods reacts positively to health-related information. If the truth be known, health-related articles cause the demand function to shift to the right, reflecting the will of consumers to purchase more of the product at any reasonable price. In fact, articles that popularize probiotics play essentially the same role as conventional advertising. Interestingly, this approach is not only less restrictive than advertisement, but the rate of decay of the consumer response is not rapid.

The interested industry can thus ask such a third-party institution to conduct an independent search and analysis of the existing information on subjects such as probiotic strain properties, biochemical mechanisms of action or clinical studies among others. The sponsor may specify the target population segment in order to adjust the level of the information retrieved, but regardless of what is paid for the service, the sponsor cannot influence or alter the content of the generated document. For additional transparency, the initial agreement should indicate that the report shall be published by the third party organization or submitted for publication in a journal or newspaper, regardless of the results.

Would the probiotics industry adapt to this new reality? That is uncertain; however, it is unlikely that consumers will wait long before turning their backs to companies sticking to the old misleading practices. Therefore, insisting on the publication of questionable health related information mounted by the company’s own marketing or technical staff is ill advised.


Macouzet, M. 2012. Alternatives for communicating the health benefits of probiotics. Probiotic Intelligentsia 1(2):15-27

The uncomfortable paradox about probiotics

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 10/22/12

Probiotics help livestock fatten up quickly, yet it is claimed they help you lose weight.

How could anything making farm animals grow fat be supposed to help people lose weight? Several people have asked us at the IDPF ( ). People are right at being concerned with this contradicting message, which have persuaded some of them to stop consuming probiotics.

To solve this question, let’s start understanding why probiotics are given to livestock. Farm animals are exposed to extremely stressing conditions that inevitably affect their health, thus their development. Feeding on highly concentrated nutrients, unnatural feeding intervals, use of antibiotics as growth promoters and reduced animal mobility, among other factors, have a serious detrimental effect on the friendly microbial populations living in the animal’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  Therefore, farm animals are given probiotics in an effort to help them keep an appropriate equilibrium in their GI microorganisms and, as a consequence, the animals will be in better shape to convert feed into biomass (meat) more efficiently. Also, probiotics can make certain nutrients more available during the digestion process, allowing young animals to grow at a higher rate. In conclusion, animals gain weight faster when they are given probiotics because they grow healthier, if they also get fatter; that is not a consequence of probiotics but it would be induced by a high calorie diet and the forced lack of mobility.

In your case, probiotics might help you regulate your GI function and modulate your immune system response, therefore, they will help you remain healthy too, but that should not be translated into weight gain. In addition, several probiotic strains can help in weight control through different mechanisms depending on the needs of each person. Outstanding examples of probiotics that can be used for this purpose are those able to produce conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in vivo, which can help converting adipose tissue into muscle mass.

If you eat a lot of those highly sweetened probiotic products currently found in the market and you are gaining weight, I would not be surprised but… would you put the blame on probiotics?


Macouzet, M; Lee, B.H; Robert, N. 2010. Genetic and structural comparison of linoleate isomerases from selected food-grade bacteria. J Appl Microbiol 109 :2128-2134.  

Macouzet, M. 2011. Probióticos; componente clave de la producción animal moderna. Claridades Agropecuarias, Mexico, 217:29-36.

Macouzet, M. 2012. Alternatives for communicating the health benefits of probiotics. Probiotic Intelligentsia 1(2):15-27


Scientific names vs trade names for probiotic strains

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 10/01/12

What is regarded as good marketing by many business people seems to be an unacceptable aberration for most scientists and a deceiving selling ploy for consumers’ associations.   Who is right?

Several companies have trademarked particular probiotic strains giving them Latinized and hence scientific sounding names that suggest they are naturally associated with certain health benefits. Accordingly, we have witnessed the appearance of names such as Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis, L. reuteri Prodentis, L. casei defensis, Bifidus ProDigestis, Bifidus regularis or Bifidus digestivum among others.

Consumers are very confused about probiotics. They do not understand why so many health benefits are attributed to these organisms; why there are so many names for probiotics and why those names are so complicated and hard to pronounce. Allegedly, “re-baptising” probiotic strains with suggestive names could help consumers identifying them and associating them with the potential health benefit they are supposed to impart, thus contributing to consumer awareness and education.  On the other hand, this approach is tantamount to making a health claim and consumers may be misled to believe that the trade name is the scientific name, which lends what may be underserved legitimacy to the implied claim. Moreover, this practice makes it more complicated for consumers and even for health practitioners to associate the “re-baptised” strains with what is reported in scientific or popularization literature.

These trade names have another function in some specific cases; i.e. masking certain species names that could apparently give a dissuasive impression to consumers. The classic example is Bifidobacterium animalis, which might supposedly be rejected thinking that it is “from” or “for” animals. Some consider this as a ridiculous excuse, but since scientific names are often associated with the original source of the microorganisms, some potential probiotics could eventually carry any of the following names: salivarius, vaginalis, fornicalis or faecalis among other names that are not precisely tempting.

 What do you think? Should this practice be fomented or abolished?

Ref: Macouzet, M (2012). Alternatives for communicating the health benefits of probiotics.

Probiotic Intelligentsia 1(2):15-27, ISSN 1929-2503

Selección de las cepas a utilizar para un alimento probiótico

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 07/27/12

La selección de las cepas microbianas que se pretenden adicionar al alimento es la decisión más importante y delicada en el proceso de desarrollo de un alimento probiótico. Es evidente que si concentramos nuestros esfuerzos en la obtención de un producto que confiera efectivamente un efecto benéfico, debemos asegurarnos de elegir cepas microbianas capaces de producir los beneficios esperados. Por lo tanto, hay varios criterios que deben ser considerados para elegir las cepas correctas, siendo los principales: la existencia de reportes científicos que respalden la eficacia de la cepa, la aprobación por parte de las autoridades competentes para adicionar esa cepa específica a los alimentos, compatibilidad con la composición, proceso de manufactura y vida de anaquel esperada del producto, resistencia al paso por el aparato digestivo, formatos disponibles y, obviamente, el precio.

Dependiendo del efecto benéfico buscado y de la región del aparato digestivo en la que el microorganismo deba ejercer su efecto, la selección posible de probióticos puede ser amplia o limitarse a un par de cepas. Aunque ya muchos investigadores han insistido en esto, conviene enfatizar que no todos los probióticos ejercen los mismos beneficios, aun si éstos tienen el mismo nombre científico, es decir, la combinación de las dos palabras en latín que designan el género y la especie del microorganismo. El hecho de que dos o más cepas bacterianas tengan el mismo nombre científico indica que comparten ciertas características fisiológicas y genéticas, pero no quiere decir que son idénticas o que son capaces de ejercer los mismos beneficios.

Por lo tanto, debemos asegurarnos que la cepa (designada por la combinación de caracteres que siguen al nombre científico) corresponde a la misma que ha sido reconocida como capaz de impartir el beneficio deseado.

Macouzet, M. (2012). Aspectos críticos en el desarrollo de alimentos probióticos. Probiotic Intelligentsia en español 1(1):1-13, ISSN 1929-3909

Est-il possible d’ajouter des probiotiques à n’importe quel aliment?

by Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 07/11/12

Il y a deux aspects critiques qui doivent être abordés avant de développer un aliment probiotique: les limitations techniques et la perception des consommateurs.

L’incorporation de bactéries actives dans les aliments transformés est un défi majeur car, traditionnellement, l’objectif principal de la technologie des aliments était l’élimination des bactéries présentes dans l’aliment. Tuer la plupart des microorganismes et créer une ambiance hostile aux microbes a été la base du développement des technologies de transformation des aliments pendant plus d’un siècle. Maintenant, on veut que les bactéries pathogènes et celles qui abîment les aliments soient mortes, toutefois, on veut que les délicats probiotiques soient capables de survivre, même s'ils ne sont pas dans leur environnement naturel. Bien qu’il s’agisse d’une situation paradoxale, l’ajout de probiotiques aux aliments a été possible avec un certain succès, mais il y a toujours plusieurs limitations. Dans la majorité des cas, il est nécessaire de faire des ajustements aux procédés d’élaboration et de distribution du produit. Il faut en tenir compte car il est fort possible que les lignes de production et les réseaux de distribution existants ne soient pas utiles si l’on veut produire une version probiotique des produits élaborés par une entreprise.

En ce qui concerne la perception qu’ont les consommateurs potentiels de produits probiotiques, il faut savoir qu’ils ont une conscience orientée vers la santé donc, ils auront tendance à acheter des produits qui reflètent une image santé. En effet, l’addition de probiotiques à un produit qui n’a pas une bonne réputation santé ne trompera personne. Dans ce cas, le produit serait plus cher et il n’attirerait même pas l’attention des consommateurs habitués au produit traditionnel. Plus encore, il doit y avoir une congruence entre le type de produit et les bénéfices allégués. Par exemple, pas besoin d’un expert pour se rendre compte de l’incompatibilité entre la prophylaxie dentaire et un caramel, entre la réduction du taux de cholestérol et le fromage, entre l’abaissement de la pression sanguine et les cornichons ou entre l’affaiblissement des réactions allergiques et le beurre d’arachide. Cependant, il y a d’autres relations inappropriées qui sont plus subtiles et qui sont captées d’une façon inconsciente par le consommateur. Pour être en mesure d’identifier ce type de relations, il faut faire une analyse minutieuse.

En conclusion, il y a des aliments beaucoup plus appropriés que d’autres qui peuvent être supplémentés avec des probiotiques. Avant de se lancer dans le développement, il est important de bien analyser les besoins technologiques et l’image du produit. Il existe de nouvelles technologies pour faciliter la survie des probiotiques dans certaines denrées, mais il est pertinent de bien choisir parmi les aliments susceptibles de faciliter les choses non seulement en ce qui concerne la survie des probiotiques, mais aussi pour les questions de mise en marché.

Référence :

Macouzet, M. (2012). Aspects critiques dans le développement d’aliments probiotiques. Probiotic Intelligentsia 1(1) : 1-13.



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Consumer Reliance Program (CRP)
​A legitimate and powerful approach to communicating the health benefits of probiotic foods to consumers. It can be adoped even in the absence of an approved health claim. 
Exemples de situations qui affectent l’équilibre du microbiote intestinal du chien : l’anxiété, le confinement, le changement de nourriture, la prise d’antibiotiques, l’exercice extrême et le sevrage. 
Macouzet (2015). Nourriture probiotique pour chiens. Probiotic Intelligentsia en français 4(1):14-27
Critical aspects of developing novel food products with probiotics. 
Probiotic Intelligentsia, 1(1):2012