Are Probiotic Really Safe for Humans?

Pol J Microbiol. 2018;67(3):251-258. doi: 10.21307/pjm-2018-044.


Probiotic bacteria have been used as a health-promoting factor for a very long time. Nowadays, products containing probiotic bacteria are becoming more and more popular on the market. The term probiotics refers to the products belonging to the following groups: probiotic drugs (medicinal products - live biotherapeutic products for human use), medical devices, probiotic foods (e.g. foods, food ingredients, dietary supplements or food for special medical purposes), directly fed microorganisms (for animal use) and designer probiotics (genetically modified probiotics). Safety assessment of bacterial strains used as probiotics should be carefully studied. Even though probiotic bacteria have the generally recognized as safe (GRAS status), there are several reports about side effects triggered by the presence of these organisms. Microorganisms used as probiotics may cause systemic infections, stimulate the immune system, disturb metabolism and participate in horizontal gene transfer.

Keywords: bacteremia; gene transfer; probiotic bacteria; probiotic side effect; safety of probiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteremia / etiology
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Lactobacillus
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Probiotics / adverse effects*