Market and product assessment of probiotic/prebiotic - containing functional foods and supplements manufactured in South Africa
The original publication is available at http://www.samj.org.za
Objectives. Probiotic and prebiotic products manufactured in South Africa were identified and health and content claims stated on the labels were evaluated according to available scientific evidence, the proposed South African regulations in the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (Act No. 54 of 1972, www.doh.gov.za), and microbial assessment. Results. The range of products identified included probiotic-and/or prebiotic-containing supplements (capsules), food items fortified with probiotics and/or prebiotics, and fermented food containing probiotics, e.g. dairy products. Most of the health-related claims on the labels of the identified products do not comply with proposed South African regulations. However, results also indicate that the proposed South African regulations should be reconsidered to include an additional 5 claims, for which scientifically sound evidence is available. The claims regarding probiotic strains, viable cell numbers, prebiotic type and concentration stated on the labels of the products are mostly in line with the proposed South African regulations. The actual viable cell content of 3 out of 5 probiotic supplements readily available on the South African market did not comply with the content claim stated on the label. However, this problem did not seem to affect the inhibitory activity of the probiotic strains against indicator strains isolated from faeces of patients diagnosed with AIDS. To validate this finding in vivo assessments should be implemented before considering the need to include a wider range of prescribed viable cell numbers in the proposed South African regulations. Conclusions. The proposed South African regulations regarding probiotic- and prebiotic-containing products should be revised based on the results of this research, and the manufacturers of these products should be held responsible for providing the consumer with scientifically sound and legally correct information.