The findings of a 2015 study highlight the need for proper quality control when probiotic supplements are manufactured. Published in Pediatric Research, the study, which was carried out by American and Italian researchers, looked at 16 probiotic supplements sold online or in stores in California. The researchers were looking at whether the bifidobacteria species listed on the supplement labels corresponded to the species that were actually in the supplement bottles. When they used DNA testing and other lab testing methods, the researchers found:
Of the 16 probiotic supplements, only one contained exactly the type of probiotic species listed on the label.
The probiotic species in the supplements differed both at the species level and at the subspecies level from what was on the label. There was also variation in the species from pill-to-pill and from lot-to-lot.
Of course, the findings don’t undermine the large amount of clinical research showing a benefit from probiotics. Bifidobacteria are often given to bottle-fed infants to help address certain health conditions, such as colic. And several types of bifidobacteria species and subspecies are used in supplements, with several potential clinical applications. However, the study does highlight the importance of buying supplements from manufacturers with rigorous quality control measures in place who follow federally required Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).
Source: Pediatric Research