The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), Davis, CA, has unveiled new guidelines to help consumers select credible probiotic and prebiotic products. “The Ps and Qs of Probiotics” detail five key criteria that consumers should consider when selecting a probiotic: probiotic strain, proof, package, quality and quantity. The new guidelines were developed and approved by the ISAPP board of directors, which consists of researchers from the U.S., Canada and Europe. The criteria explain that not all probiotic strains are created equal, as different strains provide different benefits. Also it’s important to recognize that strains within the same species can still be different. As for proof, consumers should seek a clinically proven product or strain and make sure it has been well tested to provide the benefit the product claims. Consumers should also pick clearly labeled, quality packaging from a trusted manufacturer. Product packages should include the criteria defined by the World Health Organization, including probiotic strain, number of colony forming units at end of shelf-life or pull-by date, suggested serving size, health benefits, proper storage conditions and corporate contact information. Probiotics need to be consumed in the right amounts to produce the desired health effect. So a quality product must deliver the number of probiotics shown in studies to offer a health benefit.
The second set of guidelines, “Prebiotics: A Consumer Guide for Making Smart Choices,” includes the essential characteristics of a prebiotic (resistance to stomach acid and digestion, fermentation by intestinal microbes and selectivity) and differentiate them from dietary fiber. These guidelines also discuss the types of foods where consumers will currently find prebiotics.