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Good bacteria last longer with a sugar coating


Good bacteria last longer with a sugar coating

By Miriam Meister

Chr. Hansen and the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark are joining forces to find a way to encapsulate health-promoting bacteria. The goal of the joint research project is to use encapsulation to secure longer-lasting bacteria that work more effectively in the stomachs of their consumers.

If you have ever fallen prey to travelers’ tummy – or have needed to take a course of antibiotics, you can probably understand the importance of a healthy bacterial balance in the intestine. It is well-documented that special probiotic – or health promoting – bacteria can help create such a balance and generally strengthen the immune system. As a result, consumer demand for probiotics is on the rise.

In order to be effective, a specific amount of live probiotic bacteria must be present and active when reaching the intestine. It can be difficult to ensure that added probiotic bacteria stay active and functional until the expiry date, particularly in foods that typically have a high liquid content or are stored at room temperature. For some other food types, it is currently not possible to add sufficiently high amounts of such healthy bacteria to obtain a health benefit.

It is exactly this issue that the research project PROBIO, with the support of the Innovation Fund, will now address.

Thin membrane of linked sugar molecules

Over a four year period, Chr. Hansen and the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmarkwill investigate whether a thin membrane of linked sugar molecules, or polysaccharides, can improve the stability of such bacteria in various high moisture foods, such as juice and yogurt.

Chr. Hansen will provide bacteria and expertise for the project and even build a specialized pilot plant for the promising and advanced technology of drying and encapsulating probiotic bacteria.

The National Food Institute will draw on its research and knowledge of encapsulation techniques and polysaccharides to develop cost-effective encapsulation technologies that protect sensitive ingredients such as probiotics.

The overall objective of the project is to overcome the technological barriers that stand in the way of offering more consumers worldwide the benefit of probiotics.

Keeping health benefits intact

“It’s about ensuring that the probiotic bacteria work exactly where they are beneficial, namely in the stomach of the consumer,” says Jakob Søltoft-Jensen, project manager at Chr. Hansen. “This exciting research project aims to help ensure that the health-promoting properties are kept intact all the way from the factory to the consumer.”

“Going forward, the technologies that will be developed as part of this project will benefit other foods and products”, says professor Loannis S. Chronakis, National Food Institute.

The knowledge produced by the research collaboration can enable Chr. Hansen to offer probiotic cultures to a far wider range of foods and beverages in the future.

source: Technical University of Denmark

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