Here we look at the science behind probiotics in general, BioBrew’s products in particular.
The science of BioBrew
What are Probiotics?
The FAO/WHO consultation in 2002 define probiotics as “live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host” (FAO/WHO, 2002).
In North America, products intended to deliver probiotic benefits to animals are called Direct Fed Microbials (DFM).
Lactobacilli as Probiotics
The genus Lactobacillus contains about 80 species inhabiting environmental niches as diverse as the honeybee stomach and the surface of leaves. Some species have had an intimate relationship with human food and have been used for centuries for preservation and fermentation of foods & beverages like sake, sourdough, sauerkraut, yoghurt and salami.
Isolates of lactobacilli with probiotic characteristics go through a screening process of which passage through the gastrointestinal tract is the first hurdle (acid and bile salt tolerance). Specific isolates have specific benefits to the digestion and immune status of the host animal. Currently available on the New Zealand GRAS (generally regarded as safe) register is a list of 11 species i.e.:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus bifidus
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Lactobacillus buchneri
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Lactobacillus casei|
- Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies lactis
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus rhannosus
- Lactobacillus salivarius
BioBrew Ltd has recently received approval from the NZ government to add another species to this list:
- Lactobacillus reuteri
It must be noted that not all strains of these species show probiotic effects and that each isolate must be individually assessed for probiotic properties.
Yeasts as Probiotics
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the common yeast of beer, wine and bread. S. cerevisiae has been used as a digestive enhancer and specific strains, usually of S. cerevisiae ssp. boulardii, have been used in ruminant and monogastric animal nutrition.
Effects of Probiotic Organisms
The gut of mammals and birds is a complex microbial environment and shows strong ecological resilience or homeostatic properties. Probiotic organisms are considered to be transitory in the gut environment as they typically disappear from stool samples shortly after administration has ceased.
While the residence time in the gut may be relatively short compared with the established microflora, there is ample scientific evidence that probiotic organisms affect the host animal in a number of ways including, for example, stimulating gut epithelial cells to replace and shed, reduced gut inflammation, changes in gene expression within the gut lining, producing bacterocin-like substances to directly inhibit pathogenic organisms, improved host immune status and protection from specific gut pathogens.
Fresh vs Freeze Dried
Very little work has been done analysing the difference between the use of freeze-dried powder verse using fresh, active probiotics (such as BioBrew’s fresh products) in animal husbandry. Indeed, there appears to be very few comparisons in the literature for human use either. This is unsurprising when we consider that most commercial “products” are sold in a dry “powdered or pelleted” form and the companies selling these products have little incentive to draw attention to the differences between preserved and fresh products.
A comparison in humans using the probiotic Lactobacillus GG concluded that in the active fermented form “the lowest colonizing dose was 100 million living bacteria, but in dry pharmaceutical preparations (food supplements) a daily dose needed was 10 billion colony-forming units.” (Salexlin, 1996). Two orders of magnitude more freeze dried CFU are required for a probiotic effect and this makes sense given that those Lactobacillus that actually survive the rigors of the freeze-drying process take an hour or more to “wake up” and are more easily damaged by stomach acids.
Note: BioBrew products are fresh and actively metabolizing when fed to stock.
Single vs. Multi Strain Probiotics
It is generally accepted in scientific circles that a combination of several strains of probiotic organisms is more effective than any of the single strains it is composed of.
Note: BioBrew products contain a range of probiotic organisms in a mixed fermentation
When assembling and formulating a probiotic product (or DFM) it is important to know that the microorganisms survive the production process. Indeed, many products and formulations for human consumption fail to live up to the label claims. Many probiotic isolates are put through damaging production and manufacturing processes. This requires they be screened for the ability to withstand this whilst retaining their probiotic characteristics.
Note: BioBrew products contain a range of probiotic organisms that are tested for viability both during production and through to the end of shelf life
Quality Assurance Criteria
An important indicator for quality of a probiotic product is the maintenance of viability of the probiotic organisms in the product. This is an area of particular importance as seen in studies on human supplements and in New Zealand agricultural preparations.
Evidence of BioBrew’s robust Quality Assurance (QA) systems and criteria were recently presented at Asia-Pacific Workshop 20-21 October 2014. Centre for Food Research and Innovation, Lincoln University, New Zealand.
Note: BioBrew Ltd has an active QA system that tracks quality throughout the production and distribution cycle.
Probiotics and Organic Acids as an Alternative to AGPs (Antimicrobial Growth Promoting agents)
Europe has been without the use of AGPs for longer than any other part of the world. When ranking various alternatives to AGPs on a scale of 1-5 (1 least effective, 5 most effective) European feed professionals ranked organic acids at 3.7 and probiotics at 3.0, while in the Asia/Pacific region the rankings were organic acids at 3.8 and probiotics at 3.7
Note: BioBrew products contain large numbers of live active microbes AND a range of organic acids as the by-product of metabolism during the culturing of our mixed probiotic fermentations. These organic acids help maintain a stable environment for improved shelf life as well as directly conferring benefits to the target animals.
The Evidence for Quality and Efficacy of BioBrew Products
In 2013/14, a master’s student was co-sponsored by BioBrew and the New Zealand Government through Callaghan Innovation, to examine the population ecology, and metabolites produced in BioBrew products, and to formalize and codify BioBrew’s QC (quality control) measures into a robust QA (quality assurance) system. The student (Nagaiah Koneswaran) undertook the work at the BioBrew facility in Christchurch, NZ and was co-supervised by Dr Malik Hussain and Dr Craig Bunt, of Lincoln University and Don Pearson from BioBrew Ltd.
Through his work with BioBrew Ltd, Nagaiah Koneswaran has since been awarded a master’s by Thesis with 1st Class Honours from Lincoln University.
The quality control system developed involves the sampling and recording of time, temperature, pH and the testing of samples for cfu (colony forming units following serial dilution) taken throughout the production cycle, as well as screening for the presence of common food pathogens.
Lactobacilli cfu numbers are consistently 10^9 CFU/dose and we certify that our products maintain this level of viability through their entire shelf life.
Organic Acids and Volatile Organic Compounds
A range of volatile and soluble compounds were found using SPME/GC-MS and wet techniques. Key beneficial metabolites found in significant quantities include beneficial organic acids, e.g., L-lactic acid, butyric acid and acetic acid, and esters such as ethyl acetate and ethyl butyrate.
BioBrew products are Quality Assured consortia of probiotic microbes with high viability, high activity, and beneficial metabolites (including organic acids). Our products are acceptable to animals, affordable for farmers, and conform to international regulatory frameworks.