Commercial probiotic strains for food or supplement use can be altered in different ways for a variety of purposes. Production conditions for the strain or final product may be changed to address probiotic yield, functionality, or stability. Final food products may be modified to improve flavor and other sensory properties, provide new product formats, or respond to market opportunities. Such changes can alter the expression of physiological traits owing to the live nature of probiotics. In addition, genetic approaches may be used to improve strain attributes. This review explores whether genetic or phenotypic changes, by accident or design, might affect the efficacy or safety of commercial probiotics. We highlight key issues important to determining the need to re-confirm efficacy or safety after strain improvement, process optimization, or product formulation changes. Research pinpointing the mechanisms of action for probiotic function and the development of assays to measure them are greatly needed to better understand if such changes have a substantive impact on probiotic efficacy.
Keywords: efficacy; gene expression; genetics; probiotic; regulatory; safety.
© 2014 New York Academy of Sciences.