The company launched BLIS K12, a Streptococcus salivarius geared towards boosting immunity, in the USA and Canada in 2008 following a distribution agreement with New Zealand developer BLIS technologies. In October Frutarom launched a sister probiotic to BLIS K12 called M18, a different strain geared towards tooth and gum health.
While a slate of products using K12 have been launched in mainstream outlets such as CostCo, VP health and marketing Laurent Leduc said that while many people now know about probiotics and gut health, using probiotics for oral and immune health is a relatively new concept. Awareness of connections between oral health and serious diseases like cardiovascular disease is rising, however.
Moreover, people are more familiar with delivery formats like capsules and dairy drinks, rather than chewing gums and bars that allow the bacteria to colonise the oral cavity (rather than the gut).
He said the company is “taking time to educate consumer about taking oral probiotics,” and has just launched a new consumer-facing website to this end, www.blisk12.com.
Frutarom USA expects to see companies using a combination of the two BLIS strains in the same applications. In the United States manufacturers can make structure/function claims linking probiotics with oral health, but in Europe – where the strains have yet to gain novel foods approval – the emerging regulatory landscape makes it more problematic. Nonetheless, Leduc said clinical trails are in place that may help towards this eventual aim.
Frutarom also has plans to gain GRAS status for BLIS K12, initial self-affirmed but eventually FDA-notified, to open up new applications in foods such as bars and dairy products.
Leduc agreed that given that it is a new area, companies that are already using BLIS K12 in products took a bit of a gamble – but retail trials have proved successful and there are good examples in both the US and Canada of manufacturers engaging in consumer marketing as well.
He said that there are other probiotics for oral and immune health on the market, but that BLIS is native to the oral cavity, which gives it a survival advantage when compared to gut probiotics used to colonise the mouth.