Probiotic Pet food - how is it done?
Technical challenges for probiotic pet food manufacturing – introduction
To have a certain health effect of probiotics in a pet food, one needs to preserve bacteria count/viability on a sufficient level during the entire shelf-life of the product.
Probiotic bacteria count/viability can be influenced by different environmental factors, such as heat, moist and etc. Those factors can dramatically decrease the probiotic count/viability in the final product. To avoid influence of such environmental factors on the probiotic bacteria count/viability, a simple surface introduction-technique is not enough. Probiotic ingredients only present on the surface of the pet food kibble (surface introduction) cannot preserve bacteria count/viability on a sufficient level during the entire shelf-life period of the product, because the probiotic ingredient is “open and available” to environmental factors.
Various food manufacturing processes include a heat-treatment (such as extrusion), which leads to loss of count/viability of the probiotic bacteria. Other stages of food product manufacturing include treatment with various compounds, serving as ingredients and/or preservatives, which in this case might have a negative effect on the viability of the probiotic microorganism. Such treatments of the product might be afforded before the inclusion of the probiotic, but any leftovers or defects of the product matrix will have a negative effect on the stability of the probiotics in the future. To minimize influence on the probiotics it is not recommended to process the pet food any further after the inclusion of the probiotic bacteria.
Additionally, there are a lot of products available on the market claiming probiotic health benefits, based on introduction of probiotic fermentation products or extracts. Fermentation products is a growth media extract where bacteria have been fermented (grown). Such products do not contain concentrated viable probiotic bacteria, and any probiotic bacteria present, are “inactivated” by the heat treatment these types of ingredients have been through. This eliminates the viability of probiotic microorganisms and typically viable bacteria count analysis of such products is very low and will be insufficient in providing any actual health benefits. Thus, claiming a probiotic health benefit with products containing only fermentation products and/or extracts is misleading the client. Fermentation products cannot have a strict health benefit compared with the viable and concentrated probiotic bacteria. The only reason for usage of probiotic bacteria fermentation products or extracts by various pet food producers, is that it can be used prior to the extrusion process. And because of the absence of guaranteed viable probiotic bacteria count these ingredients does not need any special treatment.
On the other hand, there are a lot of products available on the market, that apply the probiotic ingredient after the extrusion process, corresponding to a simple surface introduction technique. Application of the probiotic ingredient after the extrusion process will minimize the negative effect of the extrusion (heat) on the probiotic count/viability in the final product. However, to preserve the viability and concentration of the probiotic bacteria throughout the entire shelf-life it is necessary to use a specially developed and patented technology to get the bacteria to penetrate the kibble structure. This is what Bacterfield does with their products.
Bacterfield’s unique patented technology for probiotic pet food manufacturing – probiotic bacteria count/viability preservation
For all the Bacterfield’s pet foods a probiotic bacteria ingredient is supplied fresh to the production facility in a form of concentrated powder. This powder contains a high amount of viable probiotic bacteria with a guaranteed bacteria concentration, which cannot be achieved by any fermentation product or extract widely used in other products by Bacterfield competitors.
Such a specific ingredient, like a viable probiotic bacteria powder, should be treated carefully during the production process. That is why Bacterfield developed a unique and patented production technology that preserves the viability of the probiotic ingredient during the processing/manufacturing stage of the pet food. This unique pet food manufacturing technology minimizes influence of the extreme temperatures during which the pet food kibbles are formed (extrusion process, temperatures can easily reach 100 °C). Bacterfield’s patented technology ensures that during the production there is no “damage” to the raw probiotic ingredient and probiotic bacteria concentration is preserved on the highest possible level in the finished product.
Also, Bacterfield’s patented probiotic pet food production technology is designed so, that the probiotic bacteria are submerged into the matrix of the pet food kibbles, unlike the surface introduction technique described above. In this way the pet food matrix serves as an additional protective barrier for the probiotic bacteria that are “hidden” inside the kibble-matrix, thus protected from outside factors of environment, such as heat and moist. Strict quality control of the manufacturing process together with the unique and patented probiotic introduction methodology gives a technological advance for Bacterfield products. Seeing as they preserve a high probiotic bacteria concentration and viability in all the products for the entire duration of the pet food shelf-life fulfilling all the requirements of the European Union Commission and extracting the maximum probiotic health benefits out of consumption of such products.
By Therese G. Hosbjerg, DVM and Technical manager at Bacterfield GMBH