Chocolate is a strong carrier for probiotics and could present an opportunity for brand manufacturers to introduce products to improve gut health, according to supplier DuPont.
The company produces a four strain blend of probiotics called Howaru Restore that has already been used in US chocolate brand Active D’Lites by ProBiotix Foods.
Chocolate: a low moisture environment for probiotics
ConfectioneryNews.com caught up with Scott Bush, vice president of marketing at DuPont Nutrition & Health, at Vitafoods Europe in Geneva this week.
“We want to put probiotics into a system where moisture is minimised and chocolate is a low moisture system so it’s quite amenable to as a probiotic delivery vehicle.”
He said that high moisture content made it difficult to incorporate probiotics into other confectionery such as gummies.
Howaru Restore is four strain probiotic blend of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04, Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07, and Lactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37.
DuPont has conducted a clinical study that found a 10bn CFU dose – which can be added in less than a gram into a chocolate bar – could produce multiple digestive health benefits, such as reduced diarrhea when taking antibiotics.
What health claims can be made?
The EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) last year considered the term ‘probiotic’ an implied health claim, banned for product labels.
DuPont is working on two studies that it hopes will help it win an EFSA approved health claim for probiotics in the next one to two years.
However, it is down to EU member states to interpret the regulation and Bush said rules were much more relaxed in certain countries like Italy, where the term probiotic can still be used.
In the US, brands can make a structure function claim to say that the probiotic combination improves digestive health or gut health, said Bush.
He added that in other less stringently regulated regions brands could make claims found in Dupont’s clinical studies such as ‘helps prevent antibiotic associated diarrhea’, ‘reduces bloating and ‘reduces gas’.
Market and consumer profile
Bush said probiotics in confectionery would largely be a niche market that would work in food, drug and mass channels and health stores already selling confectionery.
“The person who’s going to pay for this is probably middle class, upper middle class, educated, goes on the internet to understand what they can do to improve the health benefits in the products they are consuming.”
Low temperature processing
Probiotics cannot go into any confectionery that is baked and manufacturers need to ensure they use low temperate processing.
Probiotics tend to be added to the chocolate at around 90-100°F (32°C 37°C) – after which the chocolate can be used to enrobe a bar.
Bush said there shouldn’t be any impact on taste.
The bacteria are not impacted if alternative sweeteners are used. The only ingredients that would impact the probiotic strains are certain vitamins and minerals, said Bush.
Labelling and refrigeration
The ingredients list would generally label the four strains.
“We would typically recommend when you put probiotics into a confectionery product to label it ‘best if refrigerated’. It will have a longer shelf life if it’s refrigerated.” said Bush.
He said that probiotics were stable at room temperature for between 18-24 months, but you need higher overages than you would at refrigeration temperature.