Probiotic Industry Leaders Push for More Standards: Natren has met these all along!

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and the International Probiotics Association (IPA) are calling for manufacturers of probiotic products to raise the bar for labeling, storing and stability testing as an industry standard. Natren wrote the book quite literally on many of the industry labeling guidelines. Now, these organizations are asking other companies to finally meeting the standard Natren set for itself years ago.

The goal is to provide consumers not only with better products but enhanced transparency and improved consistency, as well. It’s a move that Natren supports fully because it’s what we already do and have been doing for over three decades.

Why Make an Industry Change?

Put simply, science is fluid for most industries and this is true for probiotics, as well. Some of the processes that Natren believed from the beginning were necessary; the scientific community now finally embraces. Organizations like CRN and IPA are always looking for ways to improve industry-wide standards based on the most current scientific thinking. These changes are an example of that in action.

There are no government bodies tasked with regulating the probiotics industry. The IPA and CRN work to self-regulate it in order to enhance both consumer knowledge and safety, so changing the label guidelines is a step in the right direction.

Identifying Probiotics by Strain

Probiotics are made up very specific strains of microorganisms. One of the key changes being made by the IPA is asking probiotic brands to note the taxonomy of the strains at the Genus, Species and Strain level. It requires that level of specificity to make sure each product actually contains a “good” form of bacteria because not all strains are good for the human gut. By identifying probiotics to the strain level, the industry ensures proper identification and discrimination of the bacteria strains used.

The IPA is asking manufacturers to include this information on labels, as well. In other words, they want to see the label state the exact strain level of each bacterium in the product. Natasha Trenev, the founder of Natren, has pushed for standards in probiotic labeling for years. Natren has always enforced proper labeling with a full list of ingredients including strain level identification of the bacteria in their products because it’s the right thing to do.

A Little About CFUs

Part of the new label guidelines includes specifying the amounts of probiotics in each product expressed in colony forming units or CFUs. CFUs are the only scientific unit of measurement that works for probiotics, according to one industry leader. It provides an account of the number of viable bacteria in each product. In other words, the count measures only the live cells. Other forms of measurement like weight include both living and dead microbes, making the actual number of viable bacteria inaccurate. CFUs allow manufacturers to quantify their results more accurately, as opposed to listing them by weight, which is highly inaccurate.

The IPA is petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to make the CFUs a requirement, instead of a guideline. This provides the consumer with the best information available about the probiotics.

Factoring in Stability, Storage and Handling

The new guidelines also focus on stability testing for better shelf life accuracy. There are many variables to estimating the shelf life of probiotic products. Labels provide information to consumers about how to store these products but current stability testing doesn’t match those conditions. If the label says to store a probiotic at no higher than 65 degrees Fahrenheit but stability testing is done at 45 degrees, the shelf life estimation may be off.

The IPA recommends manufacturers match their storage and handling data to their stability-testing environment to provide buyers with scientifically-based information. This is a standard that Natren has always believed was the best approach.

Natren and its founder Natasha Trenev are pioneers in the probiotics industry. As a company, Natren set its own guideline for labeling decades ago. It’s that attention to detail that makes Natren a leader in the health food sector. You can learn more about Natren’s role in setting the original standards here: Probiotic Label Standards.