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UAS Labs: Manufacturing quality probiotics from strain to solution

Producing high-quality probiotics is technically challenging. From fermentation to finished product, every step must be carefully controlled to maintain viability and ultimately, deliver a health benefit to the consumer. UAS Labs fully understands these production challenges and conquers them daily in both their probiotic fermentation facility as well as their finished goods manufacturing plant.

With a near 40-year history, UAS Labs has long been at the forefront of manufacturing innovation. Recently, UAS Labs expanded its fermentation and freeze-drying capacity with the completion of a new, state-of-the-art facility. With this $60M investment, UAS has improved its capability to supply the market with high-quality probiotics in a cost-effective manner and a dependable timeframe.

As one of only a few companies in the world providing an end-to-end operation, UAS Labs has the unique opportunity to control every step of the process. UAS Labs’ team, under the guidance of CEO Kevin Mehring and CSO Dr. Greg Leyer, works tirelessly to ensure probiotic purity and stability are maintained throughout the production process. UAS Labs delivers, from strain to solution.

Why fermentation is critical to quality

The complexity of the fermentation process creates the possibility for quality problems to appear if very tight controls are not in place. During fermentation, the first step of the probiotic production process, tiny quantities of live microorganisms are put in conditions tailored to support their multiplication. Establishing favorable conditions for growth of the bacteria enables companies to turn a vial of a given strain into a bioreactor full of the microorganism ready for the downstream processing steps of concentration, stabilization and the important process of freeze-drying to extremely low water activity levels.

However, conditions that are favorable for growth of the desired bacteria may also aid the multiplication of a host of other undesirable microorganisms. An unintended microorganism that appears in the probiotic medium or process can thrive, increasing its own population while outcompeting the desired strain. This undesirable event can lead to a finished culture that fails purity testing in addition to creating large expenses in both product scrap and lost production time.

The fragility of fermentation poses other challenges too. Changes to process controls can affect the growth of the targeted microorganisms, leading to batch-to-batch variation and ultimately the inconsistent performance of finished products.

To achieve consistent, high-quality output, probiotic production facilities must control and monitor each step of the process, from ensuring the purity of the starting strain, through amplification and scale-up, onto the finished, freeze dried culture.

UAS Labs’ operation

UAS Labs has mastered the challenges of producing pure, stable, high potency probiotics. The company has teams dedicated to quality in both its fermentation and freeze-drying facility and finished goods manufacturing plant. These teams ensure that the production process is carried out with precision from start to finish.

At UAS Labs, the probiotic production process is fully controlled and monitored in-house. The process starts with a team of highly skilled bioprocessing professionals who have years of experience commercializing probiotic strains. Their knowledge and background allow them to identify and eliminate risks that could compromise the quality of the final, freeze dried culture.

The fermentation, concentration and freeze-drying processes are carried out using industry-leading equipment in a closed loop production system. Temperature, pH and other critical parameters are monitored around-the-clock in an automated central control room to ensure optimal conditions for probiotic viability. Quality is controlled at every step in the process with an unwavering focus on safety.  The freeze-dried probiotic concentrate is fully tested for identity and purity before being released from the probiotic production facility.

Carefully packaged, freeze-dried probiotic concentrates are then shipped for further processing to trusted contract manufacturers and integrated probiotic brand owners around the world. This includes UAS Labs’ finished goods manufacturing facility located in Wausau, WI, US.

UAS Labs blends and standardizes these freeze-dried probiotic concentrates into consumer-ready formulations. These formulations are then formatted into capsules, tablets, sticks or sachets and packaged into bottles, blisters and cartons. Rigorous quality control testing is the final step in the process. UAS Labs performs this entire operation under the same roof. Having an end-to-end operation that is dedicated to probiotics creates the optimal environment for quality and stability from strain to solution.

Invested in industry change

The probiotic segment has seen continuous growth due in-part to the ever-advancing scientific research as well as a consumer desire to live a healthier lifestyle. The growth of this segment has resulted in an increase in the number of companies entering the probiotic space without a clear understanding of the production challenges that exist.

Newcomers unaware of the experience, equipment and process controls needed for optimal probiotic creation have the potential to produce inferior product. Marketing such substandard probiotics runs the risk of running afoul of regulatory agencies and ultimately, failing to deliver a health benefit to the consumer. This has the potential to cause a negative impact on the entire industry.

Recognizing the need to improve awareness and raise quality across the board, UAS Labs is working with fellow members of the International Probiotics Association to create finished goods manufacturing guidelines. These guidelines will help new entrants understand what it takes to bring probiotics to market, thereby encouraging them to commit the time, capital and expertise needed to meet probiotic standards for quality and enable the industry to continue to experience healthy growth.

UAS Labs is invested in industry change for the right reason – the end consumers’ health and wellness. Whether a company is fermenting bacteria, producing finished probiotic supplements or both, as in the case of UAS Labs, quality cannot be taken lightly.

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