(Adapted from Sanders, M. E. 2003. Probiotics: considerations for human health. Nutr. Rev. 61:91-99)
Although the concept of probiotics was introduced in the early 20th
century, the term was not coined until the 1960’s. The definition of the term has evolved through the years (see
following table). Perhaps the most
appropriate definition, published by an Expert Consultation at a meeting
convened by the FAO/WHO in October, 2001, is “probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered
in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. This
definition has the following characteristics:
Implied by this definition is that probiotics are defined strains. It is
scientifically untenable to validate probiotic function and monitor probiotic
impact on a preparation of microbes of unknown composition.
Probiotic activities have been deemed to be largely strain-specific, so
definition to the strain level is important.
Deposit of a probiotic strain into an internationally recognized culture
collection is recommended.
An agreed upon definition by the scientific community, even in the
absence of regulatory definitions, is important. In the absence of a definition, consumers cannot know what to
expect from a product carrying this designation nor is there a common
understanding among scientists about appropriate usage of the term.
definitions of probiotics
Naidu, A. S., Bidlack, W. R. and Clemens, R. A.
1999. Probiotic spectra of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr.
Lilly, D. M. and R. H. Stillwell. 1965. Probiotics:
growth promoting factors produced by microorganisms. Science 147:747-748.
Parker, R. B. 1974. Probiotics, the other half of the antibiotic story.
Anim. Nutr. Health. 29:4-8.
Fuller, R. 1989. Probiotics in man and animals. J. Appl. Bacteriol.
Havenaar, R. and Huis In’t Veld, J. M. J.
a general view. In: Lactic
acid bacteria in health and disease, Vol. 1.
Elsevier Applied Science Publishers, 1992.
Schaafsma, G. 1996. State of art concerning probiotic strains in milk
Schrezenmeir, J. and de Vrese, M.
2001. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics –
approaching a definition. Am .J. Clin. Nutr. 73 (suppl):
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