The increase in vegetarianism as dietary habit and the increased allergy episodes against dairy proteins fuel the demand for probiotics in nondairy products. Lactose intolerance and the cholesterol content of dairy products can also be considered two additional reasons why some consumers are looking for probiotics in other foods. We aimed at determining cell viability in nondairy drinks and resistance to simulated gastric digestion of commercial probiotic lactobacilli commonly used in dairy products. Lactobacillus casei LC-01 and L. casei BGP 93 were added to different commercial nondairy drinks and viability and resistance to simulated gastric digestion (pH 2.5, 90 min, 37 °C) were monitored along storage (5 and 20 °C). For both strains, at least one nondairy drink was found to offer cell counts around 7 log orders until the end of the storage period. Changes in resistance to simulated gastric digestion were observed as well. Commercial probiotic cultures of L. casei can be added to commercial fruit juices after a carefull selection of the product that warrants cell viability. The resistance to simulated gastric digestion is an easy-to-apply in vitro tool that may contribute to product characterization and may help in the choice of the food matrix when no changes in cell viability are observed along storage. Sensorial evaluation is mandatory before marketing since the product type and storage conditions might influence the sensorial properties of the product due to the possibility of growth and lactic acid production by probiotic bacteria.
Many probiotic cultures are available for application in dairy products. However, care must be taken before applying them to different foods and the necessary control of viable cells must be carried out in order to diversify the market of probiotic products with the present available commercial strains.