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Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

Abstract:  Foods that affect specific functions or systems in the human body, providing health benefits beyond energy and nutrients—functional foods—have experienced rapid market growth in recent years. This growth is fueled by technological innovations, development of new products, and the increasing number of health-conscious consumers interested in products that improve life quality. Since the global market of functional foods is increasing annually, food product development is a key research priority and a challenge for both the industry and science sectors. Probiotics show considerable promise for the expansion of the dairy industry, especially in such specific sectors as yogurts, cheeses, beverages, ice creams, and other desserts. This article presents an overview of functional foods and strategies for their development, with particular attention to probiotic dairy products. Moreover, special attention is paid to the sensory properties of such products to provide important information about their most desirable attributes.


Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

The primary role of diet is to provide sufficient nutrients to meet metabolic requirements while giving the consumer a feeling of satisfaction and well-being. Recent knowledge, however, supports the hypothesis that, beyond meeting nutritional needs, diet may modulate various physiological functions and may play detrimental or beneficial roles in some diseases (Koletzko and others 1998). There is a threshold of a new frontier in nutrition sciences and indeed, at least in the Western world, concepts in nutrition are expanding from the past emphasis on survival, hunger satisfaction, and prevention of adverse effects to an emphasis on the use of foods to promote a state of well-being, improve health, and reduce the risk of diseases. These concepts are particularly important in light of the increasing cost of health care, the steady increase in life expectancy, and the desire of older people for improved quality of life (Roberfroid 2000).

Historically, the nutritional state of populations is affected by high intake of sugars, salt, saturated and trans-fatty acids, low intake of fibers, vitamins, and essential minerals. These habits are the main causing problems of nontransmissible chronic-degenerative diseases. Hence, to reduce the risk of such illness, the development of new food products that contain biologically active substances has been proposed (Roberfroid 2002). The term functional food was defined initially in Japan during the 1980s as foods for specific health use (FOSHU). However, in accordance with the worldwide accepted definition, functional food is coined to describe foods or nutrients whose ingestion leads to important physiological changes in the body that are separate and distinct from those associated with their role as nutrients (FDA 2004).

All foods are functional at some physiological level, because they provide nutrients or other substances that furnish energy, sustain growth, or maintain/repair vital processes. However, functional foods move beyond these necessities, providing additional health benefits that may reduce disease risk and/or promote optimal health. Functional foods include conventional foods, modified foods (fortified, enriched, or enhanced), medical foods, and foods for special dietary use (ADA 2009).

The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

In response to the increasing numbers of consumers interested in maximizing their health, the food industry has developed an unprecedented variety of new functional food products, which have increased the demand for such products in the marketplace. At the current time, the largest markets for functional foods and supplements are the United States, Europe, and Japan, accounting for 33.6%, 28.2% and 20.9% of sales in 2003, respectively (Blandon and others 2007).

The average North American consumer spends approximately US$ 83.73 per year on functional foods and beverages, resulting in a market exceeding US$ 25.13 billion in 2007. In 2000, the worldwide market of functional foods generated US$ 32.07 billion, in 2005 this total was US$ 68.39 billion (Justfood 2006), and the market is estimated to reach US$ 155.41 billion after 2010, with a yearly growth potential of 10% (Research and Markets 2008). Around 60% or more of Americans either somewhat or strongly believe that certain foods and beverages can provide multiple health benefits and more than 80% say they are currently consuming or would be interested in consuming these foods and/or beverages (ADA 2009). As the market for these products continues to expand, food development involving functional ingredients, such as probiotics, will also continue to grow due to their alleged health effects. Moreover, advertising and combined marketing schemes, mainly from processors of finished goods, have significantly improved the level of consumer awareness of the different types of probiotics in the last 5 y. Analysis of the North American probiotics markets for human nutrition found that the probiotics sector earned revenues of US$ 698 million in 2006. It is expected to reach US$ 1.70 billion in 2013, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.7%. The fastest-growing sector within this market is probiotic beverages with a CAGR of 24.6% (Winter 2009).

According to Winter (2009), 19% of North American adults in 2008 had purchased a pre/probiotic yogurt in the previous 3 mo, compared to 11% in 2006. Nearly twice as many women as men had consumed such products in 2008, at 24% and 13%, respectively. Individuals in the 45 to 54 age range were the most numerous purchasers at 30%. Meanwhile, in Europe, consumption of probiotics is equally strong: between 2002 and 2007, consumption in Western Europe grew by 13% CAGR, and consumption in Eastern Europe increased nearly by 18% CAGR. In 2007, consumption in metric tonnes in Western and Eastern Europe was 1,125 and 10,151, respectively; the numbers are forecast to reach 1747 and 13205 by the year 2012.

After the United States, Europe is the main nutrition market in the world. In 2003, this market reached US$ 56.73 billion, from which US$ 6.22 billion corresponded to herbal/botanical products and US$ 20.71 billion to functional foods. Within Europe, Germany, United Kingdom, and France are the leading nutrition markets. The functional food market value in 2003 in these countries was US$ 4.46, US$ 4.67, and US$ 4.01 billion, respectively (Blandon and others 2007). In Europe, the market for functional foods has experienced growth rates of 15% to 20% over the past 8 y, although they still comprise a very small part of the total market. In United Kingdom, for example, functional dairy products accounted for approximately 3.7% of the total value sales in the dairy sector in 1999 (Frewer and others 2003). In the United States of America, the same figure was 5.2%. Functional beverages had a market share of around 4.3% in United Kingdom, whereas in the United States of America it was 9.8% (Euromonitor 2000). The European market for functional foods was estimated to be between US$ 4 and 8 billion in 2003 depending on which foods are regarded as functional. This value had increased to around US$ 15 billion by 2006 (Kotilainen and others 2006). The current market share of functional foods is still below 1% of the total food and drink market. Germany, France, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands represent the most important countries within the functional food market in Europe (Makinen-Aakula 2006).

Latin America is considered an emerging functional food and natural health product market where cultural factors, low levels of knowledge about nutrition, and income constraints limit the penetration of such products. Nevertheless, in large urban areas such as Buenos Aires and São Paulo, there is a considerable number of health-conscious consumers who have the capacity to purchase functional foods (Lajolo 2002). In this context, Brazil and Mexico are the markets considered to have the greatest potential as they have an emerging and growing consumer base, with a strong and growing economy (Benkouider 2005). The nutrition sector in Latin America sold around US$ 3.67 billion in 2003, of which US$ 530 million, or 14.4%, was functional foods (Blandon and others 2007). In Brazil, the sales of functional foods in 2007 reached US$ 500 thousand, corresponding to almost 1% of the total food sales. Moreover, around 65% of the total Brazilian functional foods are probiotic products (Cruz and others 2007).

Other countries have also shown potential for growth in the functional food market. With growth in per capita incomes in emerging and transition economies, for example Hungary, Poland, and Russia, there is a potential for the establishment of markets for functional foods and natural health products (Benkouider 2005; Kotilainen and others 2006). Indeed, these markets are considered to have some of the greatest growth potential in coming years. In 2003, the total nutrition sector in Eastern Europe and Russia was valued at US$ 2.25 billion, of which US$ 550 million (24.4%) was for functional foods (Blandon and others 2007).

Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

With an increase in humam life expectancy, and the exponential growth of health care costs, society needs to overcome new challenges through the development of new scientific knowledge and technologies that result in important modifications in people's life style (Kwak and Jukes 2001). This tendency and advances in food science/technology are providing the food industry with increasingly effective techniques to control and improve the physical structure and the chemical composition of food products, creating functional foods that provide attributes beyond nourishing properties (Behrens and others 2001).

The health/nutrition paradigm has changed significantly during the past 2 decades. Today, food is not merely viewed as a vehicle for essential nutrients to ensure proper growth and development, but as a route to optimal wellness. This “food as medicine” paradigm will continue to be driven by several key factors, including increased consumer interest in controlling their own health; demographics, including increases in the elder and ethnic subpopulations; escalating health care costs; a highly competitive food market with small profit margins; advances in technology, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, nutrigenomics, and changes in food regulations and evidence-based science linking diet to reduction in nontransmissible chronic disease risks (American Dietetic Association 2009).

Functional foods are those that contain 1 or more compound that provide important or limited functions in the organism, promoting welfare and health, or for reduction in the risk and protection of hypertension, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and heart diseases (Arihara and others 2004). These foods present a potential to promote health through mechanisms not foreseen in conventional nutrition, with the need to be pointed out that these effects restrict them to the promotion of well-being and health by maximizing physiological functions of a person and not for the cure of illnesses (Sanders 1998; Roberfroid 2000). Functional foods generally contain 1 or more beneficial compounds such as prebiotic, probiotic, antioxidant polyphenols and sterols, carotenoids, and others (Shah 2001; Andlauer and Fürst 2002; Granato and others 2010a).

Using the United States Food and Drug Administration regulations as a model, ADA (2009) categorized functional food according to its properties. Conventional Foods, which are unmodified whole foods or conventional foods, such as fruits and vegetables, represent the simplest form of a functional food. For example, tomatoes, raspberries, kale, or broccoli are considered functional foods because they are rich in such bioactive components as lycopene, ellagic acid, lutein, and sulforaphane, respectively.

Modified foods are functional foods that include those that have been modified through fortification, enrichment, or enhancement. These include calcium-fortified orange juice (for bone health), folate-enriched breads (for proper fetal development), or foods enhanced with bioactive components, such as margarines containing plant stanol or sterol esters (for lowering high cholesterol), and beverages enhanced with energy-promoting ingredients marketed to consumers such as ginseng, guarana, or taurine. Modifying foods through biotechnology to improve their nutritional value and health attributes may also bring new functional foods to the marketplace, such as increased ω-3 fatty acids or absence of trans fat, although the topic remains controversial.

A medical food represents a food that is formulated to be consumed or administered enterally under the supervision of a physician and which is intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements, based on recognized scientific principles, are established by medical evaluation. Examples of medical foods include oral supplements in the form of phenylketonuria formulas free of phenylalanine, and diabetic, renal, and liver formulations.

Lastly, foods for special dietary use have a particular use for which a food purports or is represented to be used, including but not limited to the following: supplying a special dietary need that exists by reason of a physical, physiological, pathological, or other condition; supplying a vitamin, mineral, or other ingredient for use by humans to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake; supplying a special dietary need by reason of being a food for use as the sole item of the diet. Examples of such foods include infant foods, hypoallergenic foods such as gluten-free foods and lactose-free foods, and foods offered for reducing weight.

According to Hamilton-Miller and others (1999), the food industry has to satisfy the demands of the consumer to succeed in promoting the consumption of functional probiotic products. Viana and others (2008) conducted a study to evaluate the perception and the attitudes toward probiotic foods of the population in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In general, the study found that the population was confused with respect to probiotic foods and the benefits arising from their consumption. Therefore, the food industry should focus on an elementary easy-to-understand educational program using accessible language to increase the awareness related to these products and of the health benefits probiotic products may confer, if consumed along with a balanced diet.

Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

Innovation is today's business mantra. Pundits proclaim that the only hope for business survival is the ability to continue innovating. In this context, the development of new functional food products turns out to be increasingly challenging, as it has to fulfill the consumer's expectations for products that are simultaneously palatable and healthy (Shah 2007; Granato and others 2010b). According to Jousse (2008), new product development is a constant challenge for both scientific and applied research, and it has been observed that designing of food is essentially a way of optimization of key ingredients to generate the best formulation. However, the technology applied to the product manufacture is considered to be as important as the ingredients. For this purpose, the primary aim of these industries is the determination of the optimum levels of key ingredients to obtain ideal sensory and physicochemical responses (Granato and others 2010a, 2010b).

The development and commerce of functional food products is rather complex, expensive, and risky as special requirements must be answered. Consumer demands, technical conditions, and legislative regulatory background, all key points for successful product development, can only be completely covered by multinational companies. Due to their well-known products, reputation on the market, adequate R&D activities, know-how, and economic potential, these companies possess the opportunity to introduce a brand-new product to the market (Siró and others 2008).

Food products claiming a functional capacity toward promoting health, extending beyond the general provision of essential nutrients, are eagerly accepted by consumers and likely to result in a decrease in mortality and an increase in the quality of life within the population (Jew and Jones 2007). Therefore, the development of functional foods is an opportunity to contribute to an improvement in their quality, in addition to boosting consumer health and well-being. Moreover, over the years, development of functional food has enjoyed an increased interest by commercial, industrial, and academic sectors (Rodríguez and others 2003). Rendering the concept into a marketable and acceptable product represents a considerable challenge (Kruger and Mann 2003). In many instances substantial hurdles surround proper formulation and the assurance that the product possesses acceptable qualities (Frewer and others 2003; Bagchi and others 2004). Foods that incorporate entities with the best possible taste, mouth-feel, and stability without any side effect attributes will hold the greatest possibility of seeing a concept translated into a successful product (Heller 2006).

However, the acceptance to a specific functional ingredient and, consequently a functional food is linked to the consumer's knowledge of the health effects of specific ingredients. Therefore, functional ingredients that are in the mind of consumers for a relatively long period of time, such as vitamins, fiber, and minerals, achieve considerably higher rates of consumer acceptance than ingredients that have had visibility for only a short period of time, such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and ω-3 fatty acids. In the latter cases, consumers often do not know the health benefits of the specific groups of ingredients and therefore are not able to clearly assess any health effects. The health image of a functional food product or a specific ingredient represents a necessary prerequisite but cannot be regarded as being sufficient for a possible market success (Menrad 2003). According to Siró and others (2008), one of the 1st steps of functional food product development is to identify consumer expectation toward the product. From a consumer point of view, the success of functional foods relies on a number of inter-related factors, including the level of concern about general health and different medical conditions, the belief that it is possible to influence one's own health, and awareness and knowledge of foods/ingredients that are supposed to be beneficial. This is a key point for the success of any functional product in the market.

According to Roberfroid (2000), a food product can be made functional by eliminating a component known to cause or that is identified as causing a deleterious effect when consumed (an allergenic protein, lactose, phenylanine); by increasing the concentration of a component naturally present in food to a point at which it will induce predicted effects (fortification with a micronutrient to reach an intake higher than the recommended daily intake, but compatible with the dietary guidelines for reducing risk of disease); by increasing the concentration of a nonnutritive component to a level known to produce a beneficial effect; by adding a component that is not normally present in most foods and is not necessarily a macronutrient or a micronutrient, but for which beneficial effects have been shown (nonvitamin antioxidants or prebiotic fructans); by replacing a component, usually a macronutrient, whose intake is usually excessive and thus a cause of deleterious effects; or by increasing bioavailability or stability of a component known to produce a functional effect or to reduce the disease-risk potential of the food.

From a research and development point of view, functional foods represent a territory where the expertise of food technologists, nutritionists, medical doctors, and food chemists must be combined to obtain innovative products, at least maintaining the qualitative standard of the traditional foods. On the other hand, these foods must be able to modulate a physiological parameter related to the health status or disease prevention (Fogliano and Vitaglione 2005).

The design and development of functional foods is a scientific challenge that should rely on certain processes (Walzem 2004). It begins with basic relevant scientific knowledge of functions sensitive to modulation by food components that are pivotal to maintenance of health and that, when altered, may be linked to a change in the risk of a disease (Hasler 1998). The next is the exploitation of this knowledge in the development of markers that can be shown to be relevant to the key functions (Kwak and Jukes 2001). The following step is a new generation of hypothesis-driven human intervention studies that will include the use of these validated, relevant markers and allow the establishment of effective and safe intakes (Mazza 2000). The final step is the development of advanced techniques for human studies that, preferably, are minimally invasive and applicable on a large scale (Pascal 1996).

Second, regulatory bodies have become increasingly cognizant and supportive of the public health benefits of functional foods. Accordingly, governmental frameworks are now well developed in countries such as Japan that allow more than 500 functional foods to be marketed under existing FOSHU directives (International Association of Consumer Food Organizations 1998).

Third, governments looking at regulatory issues for functional foods are more aware of the economic potential of these products as part of public health prevention strategies. However, to date the cost savings that might be realized have not been assessed (Noonan and Noonan 2004). Processes for the systematic investigation of existing data linking functional foods to physiological mechanisms that affect disease risk have been developed; however, the robustness of the process varies considerably from country to country (Jones 2002).

Although regulations for functional foods have not yet been well established in many countries, this situation has not been a significant barrier to the development of novel functional products in the food industry (Eve 2000; Hutt 2000). Unfortunately, in certain jurisdictions, restrictive health claim environments have resulted in substantial challenges in terms of communication of the food–health relationship to the general public (Noonan and Noonan 2004). However, it is expected that a more restrictive legislation on health claims will increase the quality of the research carried out by food companies (Fogliano and Vitaglione 2005). Globally, regulatory systems vary widely with some countries such as Japan allowing over 500 functional foods, while other countries such as Canada allow a much more limited number of health claims. Such restrictions have been challenged successfully in courts of law (Yamaguchi 2005).

Securing specific messages on foods attesting to their health benefits represents a vital part of the cycle of moving a functional food from concept to a marketing success story (Rodríguez and others 2003). Given that consumers are both interested and wish to be informed about foods that confer health benefits beyond simply providing nutrients, the presence of an informative, authoritative claim on a food will stimulate the market share penetration of that product within its sector (Pimentel and others 2005). Such an increase in market share will promote further growth by leading to additional ‘‘concepts/theories’’ to be elaborated and tested, thus reinitiating the cycle. Ultimately, the successful development of any successful functional foods will stem from a balance between the obstacles surrounding regulation and available science versus the demands of the commercial market (Heller 2006).

Developing a new functional food is an expensive process. Food companies have traditionally funded research for new food product formulations, but the stakes are higher for functional foods, for both food companies and consumers (Walzem 2004). Government incentives, such as a period of exclusivity or tax reduction, would encourage food companies to pursue functional food development by ensuring a profitable return on successful products (IFT 2007).

Product development requires detailed knowledge of both products and customers. The high reported failure rates for new international functional foods suggest a failure to manage customer knowledge effectively, as well as the lack of knowledge of management between the functional disciplines involved in the new product development process (Jousse 2008). These failures are only partially due to the intrinsic risk associated with this kind of new products. In fact, in many cases it is possible to pick out mistakes in the research and development, which can be avoided by more accurate strategies (Fogliano and Vitaglione 2005).

The methodologies that advance both a firm's understanding of the customer's choice motives and the value systems, and its knowledge management process, can increase the chances of new product success in the international functional market. The commercial success of probiotic products ultimately depends on taste and appeal to the consumer. The consumer needs to receive a comprehensive and reasonable message about probiotics, without any exaggeration (Prado and others 2008). Moreover, consumer knowledge and awareness of the health effects of newly developed functional ingredients seem to be rather limited, therefore there is a strong need for specific communication activities to consumers in this respect. The message of the health effect of a specific product should be transferred via credible media reports in a relatively simple way, so that it can easily be understood by all segments of population (Siró and others 2008).

According to Fogliano and Vitaglione (2005), efficiency verification is a major problem in functional food development. To verify specific physiological relevance of food consumption, a suitable and measurable marker must be indicated. This marker should be linked with certainty to the physiological effect that can be measured using a solid, well-known, and worldwide accepted procedure. In addition to resources and know-how in nutritional and food technology research, the proof of efficacy of functional food products requires knowledge in the medical field as well. To fulfill the strict requirements of scientific verification of the efficacy of functional food, statistically validated data from different model systems, from mechanistic examinations on the cellular and molecular level, from retrospective and prospective epidemiological studies, as well as from intervention studies on humans, have to be presented (Menrad 2003).

Recently, Granato and others (2010c) evaluated the development and acceptance of probiotic products. They emphasized that the development of a new nondairy probiotic food is an expensive process and requires detailed knowledge of the products and the customer base, which is why quantitative and qualitative marketing studies must be carried out before launching any product. The commercial success of any functional food, especially the ones containing probiotic strains, ultimately depends on taste, appearance, price, and health claim appeal to consumers. Hence, the food industry takes into consideration all these factors to develop or reengineer functional food products. Moreover, other aspects such as physical/chemical stability, packaging design and functionality, shelf-life, sensory appeal, functional properties, health claim proof by means of clinical trials, in vitro assays, elaboration of safety issues, and dose effect studies must also be considered. Thus, the development of a functional food is a multistage process that requires input from commercial, academic, and regulatory interests, with a critical need to achieve acceptance by consumers (Neves 2005; Granato and others 2010a). It is only through these partners working cooperatively through the multiple elements of the continuum from concept to successful marketing of functional foods that this sector will see continued growth and sustainability (Jew and Jones 2007).

Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

Among the foods whose alleged health claims have been widely promoted in the media during the past few years and that present multidimensional studies for technological and industrial uses, the ones with probiotic strains stand out (Lourens-Hattingh and Viljoen 2001). The dairy sector, which is strongly linked to probiotics, is the largest functional food market accounting for nearly 33% of the broad market, while cereal products have just over 22% (Leatherhead Food International 2006). Moreover, in recent years, per capita consumption of yogurt has increased drastically because many do consumers associate yogurt with good health (Hekmat and Reid 2006).

Although the concept of probiotics was introduced in the early 20th century, the term was not coined until the 1960s. The definition of the term has evolved through the years. According to Fooks and others (1999), the word probiotic derives from 2 Greeks words that mean for life. This term was 1st used to describe a microbial substance that stimulated the growth of other microorganisms (Lilley and Stillwell 1965) or tissue extracts that promoted microbial growth (Sperty 1971), but it did not receive general acceptance. Parker (1974) was the 1st author to use the word probiotic in the context of animal supplementation and it was defined as organisms and substances that contributed to the balance of the intestinal flora. Fuller (1989) defined probiotics as food supplements containing live microorganisms that affect the host in a healthy way, balancing the intestinal flora. Many other definitions of the term probiotic have been published since (Sanders 2003); however, the most widely accepted definition is that “probiotics are live microorganisms, administrated in certain quantities that confer health benefits to the host” (FAO/WHO 2001).

Although various strains of lactic acid bacteria have been described as probiotic, relatively few meet the standards of the United Nations of having clinical trial documentation, and many are too sensitive to intense acidity and presence of bile salts in the human gastrointestinal tract, so they die en route to the gut (Hekmat and Reid 2006). The majority of probiotic products available in the marketplace contain species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are the main genera of Gram-positive bacteria currently characterized as probiotics (FAO/WHO 2001). Different species of probiotic microorganisms have been employed in the food industry, such as: Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. johnsonii, L. rhamnosus, L. thermophilus, L. reuteri, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. longum, B. brevis, B. infantis, and B. animalis (Knorr 1998). Lactobacillus. delbrueckii spp. bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus are found in a number of preparations such as traditional yogurts, frozen yogurts, and in desserts in some places (Senok 2009).

According to Holzapfel and Schillinger (2002), other lacticacid bacteria with probiotic properties are: Enterococcus faecalis, E. faecium, Sporolactobacillus inulinus, while the microorganisms Propionibacterium freudenreichii and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are now mentioned as nonlactic microorganisms associated with probiotic activities, especially in pharmaceutical and animal products. It is important to emphasize that other bacteria have been tested to check for probiotic potential such as Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris, Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp. dextranicum, Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Pediococcus acidilactici, among others. It is debatable whether or not yogurt starter cultures (S. thermophilus and L. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus) should be considered as probiotics (Tejada-Simon and others 1999; Pestka and others 2001). Although they have been associated with improved lactose digestion and immune enhancement, they fail to fulfill the criteria for a probiotic microorganism, as they are sensitive to conditions in the digestive tract and do not survive in the gut in very high numbers. Safety concerns remain about the other genera, such as Escherichia and Enterococcus, which have been marketed as probiotics (Eaton and Gasson 2001; Ishibashi and Yamazaki 2001; Senok and others 2005). It is of concern that some nondairy products that contain Enterococcus can be an important cause of drug-resistant nosocomial infections. A previous study has now demonstrated the transfer of virulence determinants, from medical to food starter strains, in Enterococcus via a natural conjugation process (Ishibashi and Yamazaki 2001). However, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species are the ones that present more available data about their mechanisms of action and efficiency in vivo, in vitro, in clinical studies, and in tests with Wistar rats (Reid 1999).

There are some ideal properties of the probiotic strains that would benefit human health and could be used in the probiotics industry. These include resistance to acid and bile; attachment to the human gut epithelial cells; colonization in the human intestine; production of antimicrobial substances, including bacteriocins; good growth characteristics and beneficial effects on the human health. One of the most important characteristics of a probiotic strain is that it must be nonpathogenic and generally regarded as safe (GRAS). Probiotics must also present some desirable characteristics, such as maintenance of viability during processing and storage, ease of application in products, and resistance to the physicochemical processing of the food (Prado and others 2008). These bacteria should not be pathogenic, toxic, mutagenic, or carcinogenic in the host organism, must be antagonistic to pathogens and be genetically stable without a plasmid transfer mechanism, especially concerning antibiotic resistance; they must survive during digestion and possess the ability to adhere and colonize the gut mucosa, promoting immuno-stimulation without inflammatory effects (Saarela and others 2000). It is important to report that these bacteria should be present in a dairy food to a minimum level of 106 CFU/g or the daily intake should be about 108 CFU/g, with the aim to compensate for the possible reduction in the number of the probiotic microorganisms during the passage through the gut (Shah 2007).

Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

It is believed in academia that probiotic microorganisms can improve health and, through media and marketing, the population must become more aware of this. To supply growing demand, the food industry has been developing new probiotic products. Some specific strains of lactic acid bacteria such as L. acidophilus, L. casei, B. longum, L. fermentum, L. rhamnosus, L. reuteri, L. crispatus, L. plantarum, B. animalis, and B. lactis are in the market and provide good profit for several companies. In this context, other probiotic beverages and yogurts have been developed, both in academic and industrial sectors, to offer new sources of improved products to the consumers in Brazil, as illustrated in Table 1. However, this market still has an enormous growth potential, since most available products are either yogurts or fermented milks with B. animalis and L. acidophilus.

Table 1–.  Brazilian probiotic products available on the market.
Product categoryProductManufacturerProbiotic strains
Fermented milkYakultYakultL. casei shirota
SofylYakultL. casei shirota
ChamytoNestléL. johnsonii
  L. helveticus
ActiviaDanoneB. animalis DN173010
ActimelDanoneL. casei defensis
PaulistaL. casei
DanitoDanoneL. casei
ParmalatL. acidophilus
  L. casei
  B. animalis subsp. lactis
Vigor-ClubVigorL. acidophilus
  L. casei
BatavitoBatavoL. casei
Bob SponjaBatavoL. casei
Yogurt-like beveragesActivia (stirred)DanoneB. animalis DN173010
Activia (drinkable)DanoneB. animalis DN173010
Lective (stirred)VigorB. animalis subsp. lactis
Lective (drinkable)VigorB. animalis subsp. lactis
Biofibras (stirred)BatavoB. animalis subsp. lactis
  L. acidophilus
Biofibras (drinkable)BatavoB. animalis subsp. lactis
  L. acidophilus
Nesvita (stirred)NestléB. animalis subsp. lactis
Nesvita (drinkable)NestléB. animalis subsp. lactis

Several health benefits are attributed to the ingestion of probiotic-containing foods, some of them have been proven scientifically (Figure 1) and others still require further studies in humans. The main science-based benefits related to probiotics are: antimicrobial and antimutagenic activities (Lourens-Hattingh and Viljoen 2001), anticarcinogenic properties (Marteau and others 2001), antihypertension properties (Liong and others 2009), beneficial effects on mineral metabolism, especially regarding bone stability (Arunachalam 1999), attenuation of symptoms of bowel disease and Crohn's syndrome (Marteau and others 2001), reduction of food allergies symptoms (Salminen and others 1998a), and reduction of LDL-cholesterol levels (Sindhu and Khetarpaul 2003). Some Lactobacillus strains have also shown suppression of pathogenic microorganisms such as Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli, Shigella sonnei, and Serratia marcescens (Drago and others 1997).

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Figure 1–. Some documented physiological benefits of functional foods containing probiotic bacteria.

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Probiotic bacteria are shown to promote the endogenous host defense mechanisms as well. In addition to the effects of probiotics on nonimmunologic gut defense, which is characterized by stabilization of the gut microflora (Salminen and others 1998b), probiotic bacteria have been shown to enhance humoral immune responses and thereby promote the intestine's immunologic barrier (Kaila and others 1992). Moreover, probiotic bacteria have been shown to stimulate nonspecific host resistance to microbial pathogens (Perdigón and others 1986; Perdigón and others 1998), and to modulate the host's immune responses to potentially harmful antigens with a potential to down-regulate hypersensitivity reactions.

There is no doubt that dairy products are the main vehicle for probiotic supplementation. Hence, it is no wonder that there is a wide number of clinical studies that report the health effects of probiotic strains. Indeed, the consumption of probiotic yogurts and fermented dairy beverages (Majamaa and Isolauri 1997; Urbanska and others 2009), cheeses (Medici and others 2005; Hatakka and others 2001), and ice creams (Çaglar and others 2008) have been reported to promote health benefits. Other food matrices such as fruit juices, vegetable juices, and other nondairy probiotic products have been shown to provide health benefits in humans (Jahreis and others 2002; Wagar and others 2009). These findings show that both dairy and nondairy probiotic products may display important physiological effects on humans; however, more studies should be carried out to test different products and probiotic strains.

Majamaa and Isolauri (1997) evaluated the clinical and immunologic effects of cow's milk with or without the addition of Lactobacillus GG (5 × 108 colony forming units/g formula) in an extensively hydrolyzed whey formula in infants with atopic eczema and allergy due to cow's milk. The 2nd part of the study involved 10 breast-fed infants who had atopic eczema and cow's milk allergy. In this group, Lactobacillus GG was given to nursing mothers. Clinical score of atopic dermatitis improved significantly during the 1-month study period in infants treated with the extensively hydrolyzed whey formula fortified with Lactobacillus GG. The concentration of al-antitrypsin decreased significantly (P = 0.03) in this group but not in the group receiving the whey formula without Lactobacillus GG (P = 0.68). In parallel, the median (lower quartile to upper quartile) concentration of fecal tumor necrosis factor-α decreased significantly in this group, from 709 pg/gm (91 to 1131 pg/gm) to 34 pg/gm (19 to 103 pg/gm) (P = 0.003), but not in those receiving the extensively hydrolyzed whey formula only (P = 0.38). These results suggest that probiotic bacteria may promote endogenous barrier mechanisms in patients with atopic dermatitis and food allergy, and by alleviating intestinal inflammation, may act as a useful tool in the treatment of food allergy

Probiotics as a part of the intestinal flora play an important role in the induction and development of colon cancer by reducing the incidence and number of tumors. The endogenous flora and the immune system take part on the modulation of carcinogenesis. Probiotics may influence both and this led to trials investigating the role of probiotics in preventing or curing tumors on animals (Wollowski and others 2001). The probiotic effect that remains the most controversial is the anticancer activity attributed to certain lactic acid bacteria possibly by counteracting mutagenic and genotoxic effects that are evident by in vitro and in vivo animal models studies; dietary intervention studies in humans and epidemiological studies correlating cancer to certain dietary regimes. Studies of the effect of probiotic consumption on cancer appear promising.

Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a liver disease that can be life threatening. The exact pathogenesis of HE still remains unknown. The probiotics S. thermophilus, bifidobacteria, L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. casei, L. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus, and E. faecum containing therapeutic effect have multiple mechanisms of action that could disrupt the pathogenesis of HE and may make them superior to conventional treatment and lower portal pressure with a reduction in the risk of bleeding (Solga 2003).

Thirty patients with chronic juvenile arthritis were randomly allocated to receive Lactobacillus GG or bovine colostrum for a 2-week period (Malin and others 1997). Immunological and nonimmunological gut defences were investigated in blood and faeces. It has been observed by different researchers that gut defence mechanisms are disturbed in chronic juvenile arthritis and orally administered Lactobacillus GG has potential to reinforce mucosal barrier mechanisms in this disorder has been suggested. Children with HIV infections have episodes of diarrhoea and frequently experience malabsorption associated with possible bacterial overgrowth. Administration of L. plantarum 299v can be given safely to immunocompromised hosts, may have a positive effect on immune response, The immune response may further be enhanced when one or more probiotics are consumed together and work synergistically, as seems to be the case when Lactobacillus is administered in conjunction with bifidobacteria (Cunningham-Rundles and others 2000).

In a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study, the oral application of B. lactis Bb12 to preterm infants, who are prone to intestinal infections and necrotizing enterocolitis, improved several health-associated markers (Mohan and others 2008). In the probiotic group, the fecal pH was significantly lower than in the placebo group, in accordance with the higher fecal concentrations of acetate and lactate in the infants receiving Bb12. Fecal calprotectin was lower in the probiotic group, suggesting a reduced inflammation of the intestinal mucosa. A higher fecal IgA level in the Bb12 group indicates an improved mucosal antibody-based defense. However, weight gain in the 1st weeks of life, one of the most critical clinical parameters in preterm infants, was only improved by the probiotic when the children were also treated with antibiotics.

Some other physiological benefits of probiotic strains are: regulation of the intestinal flow, treatment of diarrhea, cholesterol reduction, increase in lactose tolerance, improvement in absorption of iron and calcium, reduction of toxic compounds in the organism, boosting of the immunological system, and treatment of rotavirus diarrhea, improved urogenital health, prevention of cancer and suppressing tumors, detoxification of carcinogens, reduction of catabolic products eliminated by kidney and liver, prevention of arteriosclerosis (reduction of serum cholesterol), prevention of osteoporosis, better development (growth), improved well-being, synthesized nutrients (folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12), increasing nutrient bioavailability, prevention of intestinal tract infections (bacteria or virus induced, Candida enteritis, Helicobacter pylori ulcus/ neoplasia), regulation of gut motility (constipation, irritable bowel syndrome), decreased diarrhea induced by antitubercular chemotherapy, and probiotic cultures also improve/terminate colitis. Other reviews should be consulted for more details about other health benefits provided by probiotics.

Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

The maintenance of functionality of probiotics in a dairy matrix is related to various intrinsic barriers existing in the processing. Given the limited proteolytic activity of probiotic bacteria on milk casein, it is often necessary to supplement the dairy matrix with sources of nitrogen such as hydrolyzed protein, whey derivatives, and amino acids for use by the probiotic bacteria. This strategy has been extensively performed (Dave and Shah 1998; Antunes and others 2004; Antunes and others 2005; Zhao and Zhang 2006) and positive impacts have been observed on the viability of probiotic strains and on the product quality–syneresis and firmness in case of yogurt and fermented milk. However, it is necessary to consider the economics of this strategy as well as the optimization of the quantity of supplement for addition to the product. The compatibility between the compound to be added and the probiotic strain used in the product also deserves further investigation, since some strains may have variable uptake of the compound, affecting its performance in products such as yogurt (Sodini and others 2005).

In general, it is important and prudent that the probiotic strains used are compatible with the starter acid lactic cultures conventionally used in the processing of dairy products. Firstly, with regard to the chosen strains for both the yogurt and the process, these should be compatible with each other and between themselves, avoiding problems such as inhibition by acid, peroxide, bacteriocins and other metabolites that may affect logistics, process yield, and final product quality by slowing the acidification kinetics. Inhibition problems between starter and probiotic cultures have been reported and cannot be neglected (Joseph and others 1998; Vinderola and others 2002) during the manufacturing of probiotic yogurts. There seems to be a great compatibility between certain strains that allows the proper development of both in the product matrix (Saccaro and others 2009). It also has been noted that the proper compatibility may influence adherence to the intestinal mucosa (Collado and others 2007), which may directly influences the product functionality. Preliminary tests to verify the compatibility of microbial cultures are not difficult to perform and, in a more simplified way, can be solved by continued use of cultures from the same supplier.

The low pH values that probiotic bacteria are submitted to during the processing of dairy products, such as yogurts and fermented milk, is also a matter of concern. With the exception of a few Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc species, lactic acid bactéria are neutrophilic, that is, have optimum growth pH between 5 and 9. Acid tolerance (AT) in this group increases in 2 different physiological states: during the exponential phase, where an adaptive response known as L-ATR can be triggered through exposure of the microorganism to environments with low, but not lethal, pH; and after the entry of stationary phase, where AT grows as a result of an induced exposure to general stress, this response being independent of environment pH (van de Guchte and others 2002). However, it has been shown that AT, in some probiotic strains, triggers only in stationary phase (Waddington and others 2010). Lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria have some ways to express their AT, being the presence of FoF1-ATPase enzyme the most important. This enzyme has multiple subunits, comprising a catalytic portion (F1), which incorporates subunits α, β, ¥, and ɛ to APT hydrolysis, and a membrane portion (Fo), incorporating subunits a, b, and c. FoF1-ATPase function is twofold: firstly, it serve as a mechanism for ATP synthesis and, subsequently, as a mean of exclusion of protons. However, since probiotic strains do not have respiratory chain, the enzyme activity comes down to the later function (Corcoran and others 2007). In fact, FoF1-ATPase is crucial for homeostasis maintenance at low pH and its presence has been verified in several probiotic strains, such as L. casei and B. longum (Matsumoto and others 2004; Takahashi and others 2007; Chen and others 2009; Waddington and others 2010), even if having maximum activity at different pH values.

The simplest technological solution to face the acid stress is to promote a previous strain exposure to lower pH values for a short period of time, thereby inducing a tolerance of the microorganism (Sanz 2007), that has been successfully applied (Maus and Ingham 2003), Additionally, it may result in technological advantages, in that acid-resistant strains showed a higher rate of fermentation and enzymatic activity, such as glucosidases, which favor its metabolic function and survival in the gut (Sanz 2007).

In industrial plants, strain viability represents a demand for technical staff and proper structure for tests, reinforcing the need of an ongoing dialogue with the probiotic culture supplier, to obtain data regarding its physiology and characterization. In terms of process, care should be taken with respect to the final pH of the fermentation during the yogurt manufacturing.

Packaging is another important point regarding probiotic dairy foods. It is known that probiotic bacteria prefer an anaerobic or microaerobic environment, thus, the exposure of such microorganisms to oxygen in a packaging may result in lower viability (Talwalkar and Kailasapathy 2004). During processing of yogurts and ice creams, oxygen is incorporated in some unit operations such as stirring (yogurts) and mixing of ingredients (ice creams). The oxygen alone cannot cause a significant damage in the bacteria cell; however, when water is present, oxygen can be reduced and may form reactive oxygen species (ROS), substances that are toxic to the strains (Corcoran and others 2007). In fact, these ROS such as superoxide (O2) and hydroxide anion (OH) attack proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, which cause the cell death. Ahn and others (2001) confirmed this fact by showing that the exposure of B. longum to oxygen led to inhibition of growth.

Some alternatives such as addition of ascorbic acid (Dave and Shah 1998), eletroreduction of milk (Bolduc and others 2006), use of materials with a strong barrier to oxygen (Miller and others 2002), use of other active packagings (Miller and others 2003), microencapsulation (Talwalkar and Kailasapathy 2003), and use of plastic packagings with different polarities (Jasson and others 2001) have been mentioned to minimize the oxidative stress in probiotic dairy products, especially in yogurts. Cruz (2010) concluded that the use of glucose oxidase may be a suitable biotechnological tool to minimize the oxygen in yogurts. Zhao and Li (2008) proposed a chemical solution for the oxidative stress and the acid stress in dairy probiotic products containing L. acidophilus and B. bifidum, the so-called “destressing effect.” For the former, the addition of sodium citrate or calcium carbonate is made to neutralize the lactic acid produced during the fermentation process. For the latter, the addition of an antioxidant substance such as sodium ascorbate or D-ascorbate (4 g/kg) would be enough to react with ROS and, hence, eliminate the stress caused by oxygen.

Cruz and others (2007) concluded that it is necessary to optimize several technological and economical aspects of the manufacturing process of these products, including the development of packaging materials that adequately protect and preserve the therapeutic activity of probiotic microorganisms. The use of appropriate packaging materials and systems is important to safeguard the improvements introduced in the manufacturing process as a whole and ensure that the product lives up to the expectations of the people who consume them, guaranteeing the preservation of the full therapeutic potential of the probiotic properties throughout storage shelf life.

Another drawback related to probiotic viability during storage is the cold stress, which is observed in yogurts, cheeses, desserts, and ice creams. Cold temperatures reduce the membrane fluidity as well as influence DNA/RNA functions related to the transcription and translation. Other consequences of cold stress are the reduction of enzymatic activity and the increase of sensitiveness toward sodium chloride, which may cause damage in the membrane (Corcoran and others 2007).

Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

A dairy probiotic product must present not only the minimum number of cells to confer health effects but also sensory acceptance by consumers. Thus, sensory evaluation of such products must be performed throughout the whole processing to prevent eventual problems during commercialization. Favaro-Trindade and others (2006) verified that a probiotic ice cream with acerola pulp did not display a suitable acceptance, while Khorokhavar and Mortazavian (2009) developed a probiotic stirred beverage added with L. acidophilus with low acceptability due to off-flavors.

In general, all probiotic foods must be safe and have good sensory properties. They must also include specific probiotic strains at a suitable level during storage (usually 106– 107 CFU/g), which must be able to be incorporated into foods without producing off-flavors. For example, bifidobacteria produce acetic and lactic acids in the proportion of 3:2. The taste and aroma of acetic acid provide extremely undesirable off-flavors to dairy products and might require the use of flavoring agents, so as to minimize or mask this defect, known as “probiotic flavor.” An effective alternative to overcome this possible undesired consequence caused by the presence of these cultures is the addition of microencapsulated cells of probiotic cultures to dairy food products (Arai and others 1996). Also the adjunct of probiotic cells without fermentation is a good technique to overcome the probiotic flavor problem. Therefore, sensory properties and consumer acceptance must be studied before launching new products in the market.

The success of sensory evaluations regarding probiotic products (dairy and nondairy) depends on the methodology applied and the inclusion of similar nonprobiotic products in the test to obtain scientific sound results and also to analyze the main positive/negative points of the food product (Cruz and others 2010). For example, it has been reported that probiotic yogurts displayed similar sensory acceptance to nonprobiotic yogurts (Hekmat and Reid 2006; Hussain and others 2009).

Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

In fermented probiotic products, it is important that the probiotic culture used contributes to good sensory properties. Therefore it is quite common to use probiotic bacteria mixed together with other types of bacteria suited for the fermentation of the specific product. Although probiotic cultures do not tend to strongly modify the sensory properties of the products to which they are added (Champagne and others 2005), in many cases consumers find products fermented with L. delbrueckii spp. bulgaricus to be too acidic and with too heavy an acetaldehyde flavor (typical yogurt flavor). Therefore, probiotic cultures have been developed to bring out the preferred flavors in the products in which they are used. Examples of such cultures are the so-called ABT cultures (ABT standing for L. acidophilus, Bifidobacterium, and S. thermophilus) (Saarela and others 2000).

There are several studies addressing sensory properties in probiotic foods, and many of them show no change in acceptability when adding probiotics to dairy products. Product appraisal to identify specific sensory attributes driving product acceptance is vital to the introduction of new dairy probiotic products in the marketplace.

An adequate application of sensory methodology allows one to obtain important results on the formulated probiotic dairy food, providing prior knowledge with respect to its acceptance on the consumer market and/or specific characteristics or a descriptive sensory profile, serving as the foundation for making alterations or otherwise, as required. Whenever possible, in the majority of cases it is important to analyze similar commercial products in parallel for comparative reasons (Cruz and others 2010)

Sensory properties of probiotic yogurt

It is well known that yogurt is the most used medium to incorporate probiotic bacteria in foods and, in this regard, research studies have optimized its sensory qualities to render a palatable product to consumers. Hekmat and Reid (2006) conducted consumer taste panel evaluations to compare the sensory properties of probiotic and standard yogurt. The results showed that the appearance, flavor, texture, and overall quality of probiotic 1% fat yogurt were comparable and similar to standard 1% fat yogurt. Thus, L. rhamnosus yogurt supplemented with L. reuteri has sensory attributes suitable for human consumption. Maragkoudakisa and others (2006) evaluated sensory properties of probiotic Greek yogurt with various added Lactobacillus strains. The yogurt containing L. paracasei exhibited a rich, smooth, and traditional taste, not too acidic, similar to its regular form, showing good sensory acceptance among consumers.

Almeida and others (2009) evaluated the effect of adding açai pulp on the sensory features of probiotic yogurts with added L. acidophilus and B. bifidum and defined the parameters for its use in processing. The affective (acceptance) tests related that there were differences among the yogurts, suggesting that the level of preference increased with an increase in the proportion of acaí pulp in the yogurt formulation. The main attributes contributing to acceptance of these products were flavor and color. Therefore, it is possible to produce probiotic yogurts with açaí pulp with good sensory acceptance if respecting the other technological parameters involved.

Addition of whey protein concentrate (WPC) and sensory characteristics of fat-free probiotic yogurt with L. acidophilus and B. longum were analyzed by Antunes and others (2005). The acceptance tests were carried out by 30 subjects who used a 9-point nonstructured hedonic scale to evaluate the degree of liking of appearance, flavor, texture, and overall impression. The results showed that regular and WPC-added yogurt did not differ significantly (P < 0.05) and had good sensory acceptance among consumers.

Kailasapathy (2006) studied the survival and the effect of free and calcium-induced alginate–starch encapsulated probiotic bacteria in yogurt with L. acidophilus and B. lactis on pH, exopolysaccharide production, and influence on the sensory attributes of yogurt over 7 wk of refrigerated storage (4 °C). A panel consisting of 20 members evaluated yogurt attributes after 7 wk of storage at 4 °C. Scoring was performed on a hedonic scale of 1–15 with 1 being most desirable. Results showed that addition of probiotic cultures either in the free or encapsulated state did not significantly affect appearance and color, acidity, flavor, and after-taste of the yogurts over the storage period. However, a significant difference in texture was reported.

Sensory properties of probiotic beverages

Fermented beverages are the most traditional and consumed probiotics media for dairy and nondairy products. Fermentation is usually an inexpensive process, requires a low-cost technology, and improves nutrition and sensory profiles of food. Moreover, many media can be used for these types of products: milk, cereals, fruits, roots, or even mixture of these. From country to country, different mixtures of ingredients and technologies are employed to develop many types of probiotic beverages, as well outlined by Prado and others (2008).

The focus on sensory acceptability is still the key factor for many researchers worldwide. Sensory, physical, and chemical properties of a probiotic açai whey beverage were evaluated by Zoellner and others (2009). Sensory analysis supported the commercial potential of the açai-containing probiotic whey beverage with B. longum BI-05 and L. acidophilus La-14, with 70% of the scores corresponding to “extremely better than the standard” and “slightly better than the standard,” which had no probiotic bacteria. Martín-Diana and others (2003) evaluated the sensory acceptance of a fermented probiotic goat milk drink containing L. acidophilus and B. BB-12. Sensory evaluation was carried out in fermented milk samples after 24 h of cold storage by 10 trained panelists. Appearance, aroma, mouth-feel texture, taste, and overall acceptability of samples were scored on a hedonic scale of 1 to 10. The fermented goat milk supplemented with 3% WPC showed high overall acceptability, similar to cow fermented milk.

The carbonation of probiotic pasteurized milk with L. acidophilus and B. bifidum was studied by Vinderola and others (2000a) as a method for improving bacterial viability in fermented milk. Sensory evaluation of carbonated and nonacidified milk was carried out after 24 d of cold storage by a panel of 20 trained members served at approximately 10 °C. The odor, mouth-feel, taste, acidity, and overall acceptability of samples were scored on a hedonic scale of 1 to 5. The higher acidity levels of carbonated and lactic acidified samples enhanced growth and metabolic activity of the starter during fermentation, reducing incubation time. The use of milk acidified with CO2 had no detrimental effects on the sensory properties of fermented milk and slightly enhanced mouth-feel, taste, acid acceptability, and overall acceptability.

Hernandez-Mendoza and others (2007) developed and evaluated a whey-based probiotic product with L. reuteri and B. bifidum. A triangle test to detect differences among the probiotic beverages was performed by 10 judges and preference tests were performed by 109 children (8 to 12 y old) from a local elementary school. According to the sensory results and microbiological analysis obtained, the treatment with 2% L. reuteri and 0.5% B. bifidum differed from the other 2 and had higher preference among consumers. Moreover, this product met the probiotic criterion by maintaining both bacterial populations greater than 106 CFU/mL during the entire storage period. Acidity and pH values did not change appreciably and no sensory changes were found during the 1st 14 d of storage, after which a slight acidification was detected. The study concluded that the final product preserved an acceptable flavor, showing that this beverage may be attractive for entering the growing market of probiotics.

Antunes and others (2009) evaluated the sensory acceptability of a probiotic buttermilk-like fermented milk product flavored with different fruit flavors (strawberry, vanilla, mint, graviola, and cupuaçu) and with added sucrose or sucralose. Although the absence of comments about the typical buttermilk aroma was noted, all the sucrose-added buttermilks presented the same performance in the acceptability test, with the results ranging from “like slightly” to “like moderately’’ which corresponds to a 6.0 to 8.0 score, on the 9-point hedonic scale. The same behavior was noted for sucralose-added samples.

Sensory properties of probiotic ice cream and desserts

Ice creams are food products that show great potential for use as vehicles for probiotic cultures, with the advantage of being foods consumed by all age groups (Cruz and others 2009a). Although several factors in their processing stages should be optimized, to maintain the microorganisms in viable doses capable of providing therapeutic activity to consumers, these probiotic cultures usually do not modify significantly the sensory features of ice creams and frozen desserts. It depends on the microorganism and the technological conditions employed to develop the product.

Overall, the general steps of probiotic ice-cream processing are: reception/weighing of the ingredients involved (milk, emulsifiers, stabilizers, milk powder, and sugar); mixing; pasteurizing; cooling to a temperature of around 37–40 °C, for the addition of the freeze-dried starter cultures (usually yoghurt cultures) and the probiotic cultures (adjunct cultures); subsequent fermentation to a pH of 4.8 to 4.7, or the addition of a previously fermented inoculums containing both types of lactic cultures; cooling to 4 °C and keeping the mixture at this temperature (4 °C) for 24 h for the maturation (Cruz and others 2009a). Probiotic cultures may be added to ice creams in 2 ways, considering they are of the DVS (Direct Vat Set) type, for the direct addition to the product during their manufacture: either adding them directly to the pasteurized mix or using milk as a substrate for fermentation, producing, in the latter case, frozen yoghurt ice cream. In the 2nd case, the pH must be closely controlled during the fermentative process from the moment of obtaining the inoculum, and also the temperature during storage, so that any undesirable reactions do not occur during this period. In addition to the high sensibility of probiotic microorganisms to low pH values (4.0 to 4.5), negative effects on sensory acceptance of the product may occur, since ice creams are not traditionally characterized as an acidic food product (Cruz and others 2009a). Hence, it is important to continue monitoring of milk used as a base for fermentation and addition in ice creams.

Effects of inulin and sugar levels on sensory properties of probiotic ice cream added with L. acidophilus and B. lactis were studied by Akin and others (2007). The samples were assessed by 10 panelists using a hedonic scale of 1 to10 for flavor and taste, 1 to 5 for consistency, and 1 to 5 for color and appearance. Results showed that an increase in sugar concentration improved sensory properties, but the addition of inulin had no effect on it. Overall, probiotic ice cream save a good total impression and did not have any marked off-flavor during the storage period. Moreover, a “yogurt” or “probiotic” flavor was not found to be particularly noticeable and none of the ice creams were judged to be crumbly, weak, fluffy, or sandy.

Hekmat and McMahon (1992) studied the survival of L. acidophilus and B. bifidum in ice cream and evaluated its sensory properties. Probiotic and control samples were evaluated by 88 untrained assessors, asked to indicate their most and least preferred samples and to evaluate flavor, texture, and overall acceptance of the product using a hedonic scale of 1 to 9. Results showed that the overall acceptance changed as a function of pH. The study concluded that ice cream could be used as a good source for delivering probiotic bacteria to consumers.

Aragon-Alegro and others (2007) developed a synbiotic chocolate mousse with L. paracasei subsp. paracasei and inulin. Sensory evaluation of the mousses was carried out after 7 d of storage by 42 consumers, who were asked to evaluate the 3-digit coded samples of the control, and probiotic and synbiotic mousses, using a score from 1 (preferred sample) to 3 (least preferred sample), based on overall impression. Results did not indicate any significant differences in preference between samples of mousses, even though the probiotic was considered the most preferred trial of chocolate mousse studied, followed by the synbiotic and control. Therefore, the addition of the probiotic microorganism and prebiotic ingredient did not interfere and even improved the sensory preference of the product.

Sensory acceptance of probiotic coconut flan with B. lactis and L. paracasei was studied by Saad and others (2008b). Acceptability of all treatments was compared after 7, 14, and 21 d of storage, employing a 9-point structured hedonic scale, where “1” represented “dislike intensely” and “9”“like greatly,” by 24 untrained consumers. All products had a very acceptable performance for the sensory panel and no significant differences (P = 0.06) were observed between the 3 probiotic samples and the conrol during the shelf-life period of 21 d. However, a tendency toward better scores was observed for probiotic coconut flans compared with the control product, showing its great potential as a functional food, with high sensory acceptability.

In studies by Favaro-Trindade and others (2006), ice cream samples containing acerola pulp were formulated with the use of different starter cultures (B. longum, B. lactis, and S. thermophilus, and L. delbrueckii spp. bulgaricus, a culture traditionally used in yogurt fermentation). The authors analyzed the viability of the probiotic cultures, the ascorbic acid stability, and the sensory acceptance. Fermentation by the culture combinations was interrupted when pH values of 5.0 to 5.5 were reached, and the addition of acerola pulp caused a decrease in the pH value to 4.5 and 5.0, respectively. The results of this study showed the viability of the cultures, which remained above the recommended minimal limit of 106 CFU/g for 15 wk at the pH value of 4.5. However the acceptance of the probiotic product was low.

Sensory properties of probiotic cheeses

Another medium for probiotic inoculation is cheese. Its versatility offers opportunities for many marketing strategies as a probiotic food carrier. However, the development of probiotic cheeses implies obligatory knowledge of all their processing steps, as well as on their level of influence (positive or negative) on the survival of these microorganisms, sensory acceptance, chemical stability, and microbiological conditions throughout their shelf life. Cruz and others (2009b) emphasize that the manufacture of probiotic cheese should have minimum changes when compared to traditional products, which makes the production of functional cheeses favorable.

The growth capacity of probiotic L. paracasei A13, B. bifidum A1, and L. acidophilus A3 in a probiotic fresco cheese commercialized in Argentina was studied by Vinderola and others (2009) during its manufacture and refrigerated storage at 5 °C and 12 °C for 60 d. Lactobacillus paracasei A13 grew a half log order at 43 °C during the manufacturing process of probiotic cheese and another half log order during the 1st 15 d of storage at 5 °C, without negative effects on sensory acceptance of the product. However, a negative impact on sensory acceptability was observed when cheeses were stored at 12 °C for 60 d.

The effects of L. acidophilus addition on the sensory attributes, ripening time, and composition of Turkish white cheese was investigated by Kasımoglu and others (2004). Two types of white cheeses, traditional cheese (control, made with L. lactis spp. lactis and L. lactis spp. cremoris) and probiotic cheese (made with L. lactis spp. lactis, L. lactis spp. cremoris, and L. acidophilus 593 N), were produced and ripened in vacuum packs or in brine at 4 °C for 90 d. Cheese samples were assessed for microbiological and compositional properties, proteolysis, and sensory evaluation at different ripening stages. On ripening in a vacuum pack, L. acidophilus survived to numbers >107 CFU/g, which is necessary for positive health effects. Protein, dry matter, salt content, and percentage of lactic acid in the vacuum-packed and brine-salted probiotic cheeses were significantly different. Also, the lactic acid content of probiotic cheeses was slightly higher than that of the controls for both vacuum-packed and brine-packed cheeses. Vacuum-packed probiotic cheese had the highest levels of proteolysis and the highest sensory acceptability of all cheeses. Consequently, L. acidophilus could be used for the manufacturing of probiotic white cheese to shorten ripening time and vacuum-packaging is the preferred storage format.

The influence of inulin, oligofructose, and oligosaccharides from honey, combined in different proportions, on consumers sensory acceptance (using a 9-point hedonic scale), probiotic viable count, and fructan content of novel potentially synbiotic petit-Suisse cheeses was investigated by Cardarelli and others (2008). Probiotic populations varied from 7.20 up to 7.69 log CFU/g (B. animalis subsp. lactis) and from 6.08 up to 6.99 log CFU/g (L. acidophilus). The control assay showed the lowest mean acceptance (6.63) after 28 d of refrigerated storage, whereas the highest acceptance (7.43) was observed for the assay containing 10 g/100 g oligofructose. Acceptance increased significantly during storage (P > 0.05) only for cheeses supplemented with oligofructose and/or inulin. Cheeses containing honey did not perform well enough compared to the cheeses with addition of inulin and/or oligofructose, and the best synbiotic petit-Suisse cheese considering sensory and technological functional features was that containing oligofructose and inulin combined.

Blanchette and others (1996) produced a probiotic cottage cheese by adding cream dressing fermented by B. infantis to the dry curd. Sensory analysis was performed with 2 probiotic cottage cheeses (pH 4.5 and pH 5.5) and 1 control samples by 121 untrained panelists. Consumers evaluated the acceptability using a 5-point hedonic scale. Results showed that consumers preferred (P < 0.05) the control and pH 5.5 probiotic samples to the pH 4.5 probiotic sample, suggesting that less-acidified products have higher acceptance. The study concluded that, in spite of not surviving well after 10 d, B. infantis can be incorporated into fresh cheese to produce β-galactosidase and inhibit growth of Gram-negative bacteria.

Burns and others (2008) evaluated the potential of milk treated by high-pressure homogenization for the production of Crescenza cheese with L. paracasei and L. acidophilus added. Four types of cheeses were made from the following: HPH (from high-pressure homogenized treated milk), P (from pasteurized milk), HPH-P (HPH-treated milk plus probiotics), and P-P (pasteurized milk plus probiotics). To evaluate and compare the sensory attributes of the different cheeses obtained, a panel evaluation of 25 assessors was performed after 8 d of refrigerated storage (4 °C). Results showed that milk treated by high-pressure homogenization, instead of pasteurized milk, increased the maintenance of L. acidophilus cell viability during storage and, together with the adjunct probiotic cultures, modified the sensory features of the products.

Kiliç and others (2009) used scorecards (cheese scorecards) to grade Turkish Beyaz probiotic cheese supplemented with L. fermentum (AB5-18 and AK4-120) and L. plantarum (AB16-65 and AC18-82) toward the sensory quality of the product. Three batches of cheese were produced: the test probiotic culture mix (P), another one with commercial starter culture mix including L. lactis spp. cremoris and L. lactis spp. lactis (C), and the 3rd with equal parts of the commercial starter culture mix and test probiotic culture mix (CP). Sensory analysis was done by 16 panelists and cheese samples were graded on cheese scorecards according to the relevant Turkish National Standard. Panelists rated 35 points for flavor attributes, 35 points for body and texture, 20 points for appearance, and 10 points for odor. The sensory quality of P cheese was comparable to that of C cheese and it was found that the combination of the test probiotic culture and the commercial starter culture used had a positive effect on the sensory characteristics of Turkish Beyaz cheese.

Other dairy probiotic products

The dairy industry, in particular, regards probiotic cultures as tools for the development of new functional products (Champagne and others 2005). Yogurts and fermented milks are still the main vehicles for incorporation of probiotic cultures. However, new products are being introduced in the international market, such as milk-based desserts, powdered milk for newborn infants, ice cream, butter, mayonnaise, various types of cheese, products in the form of capsules or powders to be dissolved in cold drinks, and fermented foods of vegetable origin (Champagne and others 2005; Saad and others 2008a, 2008b). Some milk-based probiotic products that have been developed recently by a number of researchers worldwide and that had consumer sensory acceptance are listed in Table 2. Although there are a large number of developed products, it is important to emphasize that most of them are not commercially available once they have been tested for research purposes and have only been of small or laboratory scale. However, with the right approach, they could easily be incorporated into industry production lines, thus widening and diversifying probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics lines of products. However, to launch a probiotic product in the marketplace, other aspects such as brand name loyalty, advertising, price, quality control, competitors, and economic factors also play a role.

Table 2–.  Some dairy probiotic products developed worldwide.
Food productReference
Acidophilus milk drinkItsaranuwat and others (2003)
Synbiotic acidophilus milkAmiri and others (2008)
Regular full-fat yogurtsAryana and Mcgrew (2007)
Low-fat yogurtsPenna and others (2007)
Acidophilus “sweet” drinkSpeck (1978)
Stirred fruit yogurtsKailasapathy and others (2008)
Dairy fermented beverageAlmeida and others (2000)
Whey-protein-based drinksLucas and others (2004); Dalev and others (2006)
Biogarde, mil-mil, and acidophilus milk with yeastsGomes and Malcata (1999)
Cheddar cheeseOng and Shah (2009)
Minas fresco cheeseSouza and Saad (2009)
Feta cheeseKailasapathy and Masondole (2005)
Cheese from caprine milkKalavrouzioti and others (2005)
Kazar cheeseÖzer and others (2008)
Semi-hard reduced-fat cheeseThage and others (2005)
White-brined cheeseYilmaztekin and others (2004)
Cottage cheeseBlanchette and others (1996)
Canestrato pugliese hard cheeseCorbo and others (2001)
Argentine fresco cheeseVinderola and others (2000b)
Goat semi-solid cheeseGomes and Malcata (1999)
Petit-Suisse cheese supplemented with inulin and/or oligofructoseCardarelli and others (2008)
Crescenza cheeseGobbetti and others (1997)
Manufacture of Turkish Beyaz cheeseKiliç and others (2009)
Synbiotic ice creamHomayouni and others (2008)
Probiotic ice creamKailasapathy and Sultana (2003); Akin and others (2007)
Low-fat ice creamHaynes and Playne (2002); Akalin and Erisir (2008)
Acidophilus milk-based ice creamAndrighetto and Gomes (2003)
DahiYaday and others (2007)
Nonfermented goat's milk beverageNeves (2000)
Fermented goat's milkMartín-Diana and others (2003)
Acidophilus butter and progurtGomes and Malcata (1999)
Peanut milk yogurtIsanga and Zhang (2009)
Frozen yogurtDavidson and others (2000)
Mango soy fortified probiotic yogurtKaur and others (2009)
Fermented lactic beverages supplemented with oligofructose and cheese wheyCastro and others (2009)
Traditional Greek yogurtMaragkoudakisa and others (2006)
Corn milk yogurtSupavititpatana and others (2008)
Banana-based yogurtSousa and others (2007)
High pressure-homogenized probiotic fermented milkPatrignani and others (2009)
Graviola and cupuassu-based yogurtsSilveira and others (2007)
Frozen synbiotic dessertSaad and others (2008a)
Guava-based mousseSaad and others (2007)
Coconut flanSaad and others (2008b)
Açai yogurtAlmeida and others (2008)

Conclusions and Perspectives

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References

Development of probiotic food is an expensive and multistage process that takes into account many factors, such as sensory acceptance, physical and microbial stability, price, and chemical and other intrinsic functional properties to be successful in the marketplace. Moreover, consumer expectation toward the product also needs to be understood and taken into consideration. The future viability and success of functional foods in the marketplace, especially for the probiotic products, thus depend on several elements; however, consumer acceptance (food safety, sensory appeal, brand, marketing, and others) is a key issue. For consumers to agree to pay the cost associated with functional foods, they need be convinced about any health claims through clear, truthful, and unambiguous messages. Nonetheless, to achieve this acceptance the development process requires a high input from commercial, academic, and regulatory bodies. This is a hard and demanding step, but at the same time, it is extremely important and necessary to launch a functional food on the market.

Regarding the dairy probiotic products, it has been observed that such foods have been widely explored by industry and by scientific researchers due to their health appeal and continuosly increasing demand by consumers. Probiotic functional foods, being one of the largest markets of functional foods, represent a huge growth potential for the food industry and may be explored through the development of innovative ingredients, processes, and products. However, it is a challenge to develop probiotic and other functional foods that can both indulge consumers’ eating desire while also providing potential health benefits. Product appraisal to identify specific sensory attributes driving product acceptability is vital to the introduction of new products, although acceptance alone will not guarantee product success in the marketplace.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. The Worldwide Market for Functional Foods
  5. Functional Foods: Concepts and Outlook
  6. Development of Functional Foods: Importance, Trends, and Steps
  7. Probiotics as Functional Foods: Definitions
  8. Some Health Effects of Probiotic Microorganisms
  9. Probiotics and Some Considerations Regarding Cell Viability During Storage
  10. Dairy Probiotic Products and Their Sensory Qualities
  11. Sensory Properties of Probiotic Foods
  12. Conclusions and Perspectives
  13. References
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