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World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov 21;20(43):16095-100. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i43.16095.

Probiotics in dietary guidelines and clinical recommendations outside the European Union.

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Stephan Ebner, Wolfgang Kneifel, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, 1190 Vienna, Austria.


Fermented foods have been consumed for centuries across many geographical locales and have traditionally been considered healthy foods, partly because of the live microbes contained in them. The concept of "probiotics" further requires that the microbes be defined and their health effects be demonstrated through human intervention studies or other suitable investigations before marketing with corresponding health messages. Here, we review recommendations for fermented foods and probiotics in several countries outside the EU, focusing on food-based dietary guidelines. We emphasize recommendations on yoghurt and probiotics made by expert bodies. We found that dietary guidelines commonly advocate the consumption of yoghurt or similar products, but specific comments on probiotics are rare. Further, we reviewed guidelines from clinical associations. In general, they acknowledge the beneficial effects of probiotics, but often suggest the need for further research. This is true despite good quality evidence supporting the role of probiotics for certain health effects, such as prevention of eczema in infants, management of side effects from antibiotics and alleviation of functional bowel symptoms. Additional research to support future dietary recommendations should focus on determining effect size, identifying responders and non-responders, clarifying strain-specificity of effects and confirming mechanisms.


Dietary guidelines; Fermented foods; Health claims; Probiotics

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