Probiotics are to take centre stage in a new series of TV documentaries, the first of which will be screened next Fall on major TV channels in the United States, including Public Service Broadcasting outlets, National Geographic and Discovery, along with European and Asian networks.
The first documentary, Probiotics – Micro Warriors of the Digestive Tract, will aim to educate consumers and healthcare professionals, the series’ executive producer David Knight told NutraIngredientsUSA.com.
“There’s a lot of confusion about probiotics and we are on an educational mission,” he said. “We aim to tell people what they are and how they work with advanced animation graphics. But this won’t be a stiff science show – as well as being educational it will also be engaging and entertaining.”
Health and well being
The film will be the most comprehensive, complete and up-to-date film ever produced on probiotics and their contribution to overall health and well being, he added.
It will feature interviews with leading scientific and medical experts such as microbiologist Dr Lynne McFarland, and Dr Eamonn Quigley, president of the World Gastroenterology Organization. Also included will be the personal testimony of patients who have benefited from probiotics, plus explanations of their mode of action and the global regulatory environment.
Knight also includes healthcare professionals as part of the documentaries’ target audience. “There’s lots of scepticism about how effective probiotics among health care professionals such as gastro-enterologist. We want to provide the education to help them keep more of an open mind.”
Although the series is receiving funding from industry, Knight said the programs would be rigorously independent. “We have explained to our sponsors that the goal is educational not promoting a particular brand.”
The International Probiotics Association (IPA) has pledged an undisclosed sponsorship sum and consultative advice. Its director general Ioannis Misopoulos, told NutraIngredientsUSA.com: “Probiotics have had a slow start in some places. This documentary will provide solid and good information about probiotics and correct the myths surrounding them.”
Misopoulos also hoped the documentaries would help to restore probiotics’s reputation following the EU scientists’ rejection of 181 out of 181 mostly gut-related probiotic health claim applications.
Also Danone’s US arm, Dannon, agreed recently to modify its health claims and pay $35m to disgruntled consumers after settling a class action that challenged its claims out of court.
Micro Warriors will be produced by Health Point Press (www.healthpointpress.com) in conjunction with Ron Frank of Ron Frank Productions.
Funding for the project is half completed and sponsorship opportunities are still available, said Knight.
Meanwhile, probiotics are the biggest selling functional foods in the world. Global sales, including dietary supplements and ingredients, are expected to reach $19.8bn within four years, according to BCC Research.