Producing probiotics in soft gel format is fraught with technical challenges stemming from the high moisture content of soft gels and the high temperatures deployed during their production – two conditions that limit the survival of probiotic bacteria.
Secret soft gel technology
Working with its contract manufacturing partner Ayanda, Chr Hansen said its ‘Live Gel’ technology had tackled the issues.
“Manufacturing a soft gel with live probiotics, at a clinically documented CFU (Colony Forming Units) level, and being able to guarantee shelf stability, is a tremendous achievement. How we got there is proprietary information between the parties involved,” Lasse Nagell, sales & marketing vice president in human health & nutrition at Chr Hansen, told NutraIngredients.com.
A version (Mother’s 1st ) with BB-12 (Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) has been produced and shown to industry at trade events. There one capsule contained 1bn CFU of BB-12 and 250mg of the omega-3 fatty acid.
Targeting the mother and baby market
Like a lot of probiotics, BB-12 backed in some clinical studies for immune and gastrointestinal health and omega-3 form DHA is shown to support early brain and eye development in infants.
This combination is designed with mums-to-be – who often suffer from constipation – and breastfeeding mothers and their infants in mind.
Nagell noted food supplement manufacturers wanting to run with the Mother’s 1st concept in the European Union would be able to use approved health claims that link maternal intake of DHA to normal vision and brain development in the foetus and infants up to one year. As yet there are no EU-approved health claims for probiotics under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).
The launch of Mother’s 1st follows hot on the heels of EFSA’s (European Food Safety Authority) opinion as to what constitutes essential infant nutrition. In July, EFSA concluded that it was not necessary to add arachidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, probiotics or synbiotics to infant and follow-on formulae.
Chr Hansen emphasised Mother’s 1st was aimed at mothers rather than infants.
“Mother’s 1st is marketed as a dietary supplement to be taken by the pregnant and lactating mother,” said Nagell.