Natasha TrenevI recently read an article written by Mike Adams on a "natural news" website ( claiming that they had conducted an investigation that revealed the "shock finding" that "nearly all probiotics available in the U.S. market today are secretly formulated with genetically modified ingredients that are intentionally not listed on the label. The most common such ingredient is maltodextrin, a corn-derived flow agent." (Maltodextrin is more commonly used as a carrier or processing aid, not as an active ingredient.)


Reportedly, the vast majority of the products they investigated included maltodextrin. Adams went on to claim that this "dirty little secret" was why virtually no probiotics are certified USDA organic. According to him, the consumer is being "lied to" by manufacturers because the FDA does not require them to disclose fillers, processing aids or flow agents, allowing them to include as much as 30% of the genetically modified organism (GMO) corn-derived maltodextrin without having to list it on the label. If a probiotic supplement is not certified organic, it likely contains genetically modified ingredients, he asserted.


But fear not - Adams claimed to have found "the solution we have all been looking for" in a USDA organic chewable probiotic tablet, combined with a prebiotic contained in a "superfood" Peruvian yacon root powder.


I have been a proponent of certified organic products for over 30 years. The problem is not as simple as this article would lead you to believe. The real difficulty lies not just in GMOs, but primarily in other ingredients. My Natren probiotic products do not and never will contain any GMOs, but getting certified organic materials that meet the strict parameters needed for the survival of probiotic bacteria in a tablet or in capsules is a huge challenge.


Even though certified organic ingredients are always preferable, they pose a challenge when they are used in probiotic products, especially if they are not heat treated in the original growth medium. Unfortunately, organic materials have a larger background noise of other bacteria that are normally and naturally found on or in these ingredients. These background bacteria would be considered a contaminant in the finished product. Are the organic probiotic tablets in question screened for contaminating bacteria?



I have checked all material available on the web regarding this product (including speaking online to a company representative) and concluded that there is no mention of


any potency guarantee of any of the probiotic microorganisms listed on the label.


Probiotic supplements or foods that do not offer a specific potency guarantee for each beneficial bacterium listed on the label may not be providing consumers any probiotic health benefits.


As a probiotic pioneer and researcher of 40 years who has written two probiotic standards - one adopted by the NNFA in 1989 by the entire health food industry (retailers, distributors, brokers and manufacturers), and the other read into the congressional record in 1995 - I believe that any so-called probiotic product that does not focus on the active ingredients, the beneficial bacteria, is misleading the consumer.


"I believe that any so-called probiotic product that does not focus on the active ingredients, the beneficial bacteria, is misleading the consumer."


Check your probiotic label right now, and if the company selling the probiotic does not offer this specific guarantee of potency for each bacteria, than you are being duped into buying a worthless product. What's more, this omission is not in compliance with FDA regulations. The potency of each probiotic strain should be measured in colony forming units (cfu), and guaranteed to the expiration date on the label - not just at the time of manufacture.


Another misleading statement about this and many other probiotic brands is that they are shelf stable, or room temperature staple. It is my professional experience that lack of refrigeration and improper handling kills probiotic bacteria. Most consumers are not even aware what a shelf or room temperature is supposed to be. Is it 70°F? 72°F? The truth is that no such temperature is maintained in transportation or handling in real life. The shelf or room temperature exists in a laboratory or controlled environment, and nowhere else.


Nine months of the year the probiotic products are potentially exposed to temperatures above 100°F in delivery trucks, warehouses and inside a the consumer's hot trunk or car when being transported home. Has anyone tested any of these products once they have been exposed to high temperatures during shipping? This is why Natren takes special measures to ensure their live probiotics are kept refrigerated and in a temperature-controlled environment throughout the entire storage and shipping process, and at the retailers.


Another important issue is the tableting process. An incorrect tableting process may render the probiotic bacteria useless to the end user. Does this company use special machinery that does not expose the delicate probiotic bacteria to heat and pressure used in the process to make their probiotic tablets? Perhaps this is another reason that this particular company does not offer a potency guarantee.


Prebiotics can also be problematic in a probiotic supplement. The prebiotics included in this and other prebiotic and probiotic brands are essentially indigestible sugars that cannot be metabolized by the body, and can cause gas and discomfort in some people. More importantly, prebiotics become direct food for both friendly and undesirable bacteria inside the intestinal tract. Therefore, Natren never combines probiotics and prebiotics in any of our probiotic supplements.


Natren probiotics are audited and certified by an international government agency under the strictest Swiss pharmaceutical standards. This certification allows our probiotics to be sold to 40 member countries, including the USA. We know of no other probiotic company that is certified by this international agency (TGA). Natren probiotics are proudly researched, formulated and made in the USA. All of our raw materials are tested by outside labs, and our finished probiotic products are tested to make certain our ingredient statements and potency guarantee are accurate.


I would strongly suggest that this and other probiotic manufacturers make the same commitment to the integrity of the content and effectiveness of their pro-biotic products as they have to this certified organic red herring. Readers are being misled if they believe the hype that the only thing that matters is certified organic ingredients. Truly, the most important issue, one the article in question avoided addressing altogether, is that each bacterial species and strain potency is listed and guaranteed with a clearly stated expiration date.