Incorporating these healthful, microscopic additives can be challenging. But new technology is making it easier to reap probiotic benefits.
Probiotics are microorganisms that, when consumed in sufficient quantities, confer beneficial effects. When humans ingest probiotics, the microbes make their way to the gastrointestinal system and activate. Probiotics, such as Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, etc., are not to be confused with prebiotics, which are essentially dietary fiber. For humans to benefit from them, probiotics must be protected until they reach the gastrointestinal system.
Incorporating probiotics into bakery products can be challenging, because the products are exposed to high heat and have moderate-to-high water activity after baking. Survival of probiotics in a high-moisture system under ambient conditions is very difficult to achieve for prolonged periods of time, says Susan Kay, senior application technologist — bakery, Danisco USA Inc., New Century, Kan. “Because traditional probiotic cultures are susceptible to heat, it is recommended to apply probiotics to products after baking,” she adds. “Only spore-forming bacteria has the ability to survive the baking process.”
Danisco is currently developing a microencapsulated probiotic that would improve survival in baked products with medium-to-high water activity. The microencapsulated probiotic would still be applied after baking, but would be better able to deliver a high probiotic dose throughout the shelf life of product.
Ganeden Biotech Inc., Cleveland, licenses its patented probiotic bacteria, GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086), for use in commercial food and beverage applications.
“It can be used in many applications that other traditional probiotics simply cannot be considered for. Due to the spore-forming nature of GanedenBC30, it has the ability to survive through both high and low temperatures, high pressure and sheer, a variety of pH ranges and water activities,” says Michael Bush, vice president — business development.
GanedenBC30 is a room temperature-stable, dry white powder that is easy to handle, ship and store. When formulating with probiotics, bakers needs to consider the baking process, storage conditions and the shelf life of finished product, along with the survivability of the strain through each process.
“Because each probiotic strain is unique, they all have different rates of survivability through all of those environments. Our experience with GanedenBC30 indicates is that the lower the water activity of a product and the shorter the baking time the better the results will be in the finished product,” Bush says.
Ganeden Biotech has helped launch more than 40 probiotic products in the last two years. In 2010, the company hopes to continue its success by focusing its attention on mixes and finished baked products.
The company's products are currently being used in Main Street Gourmet's Activate raisin bran muffin.
“Activate raisin bran muffin is made with GanedenBC30, a highly survivable probiotic that supports digestive health,” says Steven Marks, C.E.O., Main Street Gourmet, Akron, Ohio. “This bacteria not only survives harsh manufacturing processes, but delivers 10 times the live cells as yogurt.”
Adding probiotics requires an explanation to Main Street's customers, but they are more receptive than ever. “Interest has been continually building in this area. It has been almost two years since we started using probiotics in our bakery products. We currently have probiotics in two SKUs — both muffins,” Marks says. “Since most of our new business is in the form of custom, proprietary products for larger chains, we are using this capability as a presentation tool.”
James Kopp Sr., senior vice president — nutritional baked goods products, Lallemand/American Yeast, Memphis, Tenn., stresses that choosing the right probiotics depends on the application — either post- or pre-baking. The main difficulty associated with incorporating probiotics into any food product is maintaining product viability during production and storage. Parameters that affect probiotic stability include storage temperature, oxygen, humidity, water activity, pH and shelf life. Even the potential benefits of microencapsulation still depend on specific applications (thermal stress, etc.) and may adversely affect the texture of food.
“Some of the probiotics we have, like acidophilus, are used in more post-baking applications. Some of the cakes that are found in the refrigerated sections of fresh bakeries could easily contain probiotics in the fillings and icings. Since these are added after baking, they offer a good platform for multiple probiotics, the same as in dairy products like yogurt,” Kopp says.
Lallemand also offers Bacillus subtilis, a spore-forming probiotic that will survive most baking applications. The company will soon introduce a new probiotic that is suitable for pre-baking.
With science and the baking industry working hand in hand, the future of probiotics in baked products looks promising indeed.