Carotenoid-rich probiotics may offer double value as functional ingredients

By Stephen Daniells at the International Probiotics Association’s World Congress in Miami

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Microbiology

Carotenoid-producing bacteria with potential probiotic activity may offer food and drink formulators a double nutritional boost for their products, says the academic behind the development.

Pigmented spores from strains of Bacillus may offer formulators gastric-stable carotenoids as food ingredients, said Professor Simon Cutting from the Royal Holloway, University of London.

Talking to NutraIngredients at the International Probiotics Association’s World Congress in Miami, Prof Cutting said: “There are about 600 types of carotenoids and most are destroyed in the stomach.”

However, carotenoids in bacterial spores appear to be gastric stable, and Prof Cutting noted that ongoing studies are establishing bioavailability of the compounds in vitro​ and in vivo​.

In a recent review paper in Food Microbiology​, Prof Cutting wrote: “It is apparent that carotenoid-rich spores could be used commercially as dietary supplements providing a source of carotenoids as well as conferring probiotic properties​.

The developments have been patented by Prof Cutting (WO2007066108​), and the patent covers a wider range of Bacillus strains which may be used.

In a poster presentation at the IPA congress, Prof Cutting work focuses on two strains: Bacillus indicus​ HU36 and Bacillus firmus​ GB1. The complete genomes for both strains are known.

“We are currently looking for partners in the food industry to license this and take it forward,”​ said Prof Cutting.

The London-based scientist noted that he is working with a large food company and looking at adding the spores to yoghurt. Tests have shown that the spores are completely stable, “even with alcohol”​, he said.

Questions remain over whether the carotenoid-rich bacteria would be classed as novel foods, said Cutting, since there is some evidence of prior use in certain European countries. In the US, Prof Cutting said “we do need GRAS”​.

The pigments – from yellow to orange to red – could also be used as food colourings as well as functional ingredients, said Prof Cutting.

 “A further development with spore probiotics is that they can survive mild heat treatments used to sterilise food,” ​states the article in Food Microbiology.

“In principle, spores could be added to beverages and foods yet retain their probiotic properties. Indeed, such probiotic foods have already entered the market with ‘Activate Muffins’ containing GanedenBC30 launched by Isabella’s Health Bakery in the USA in 2008.”

Source: Food Microbiology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/
“Bacillus Probiotics”
Author: S.M. Cutting

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