Postbiotics quantification: China health foods association rallies firms to draft industry standards

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A scientist holds a 96-well cell culture plate over the laser of an fluorescent inverted microscope. ©Getty Images
A scientist holds a 96-well cell culture plate over the laser of an fluorescent inverted microscope. ©Getty Images

Related tags postbiotics China Nutrition and Health Food Association microbiome

China Nutrition and Health Food Association (CNHFA) has decided to draft industry standards for quantifying postbiotics or inactivated cells and is rallying industry players and the public to take part in the drafting process.

The National Institutes for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC) is leading the process and in the past year, it has drafted the cytometry standards – meaning the quantitative analysis of cells using techniques such as measuring the molecular properties of cells by employing fluorescent labelling.

The CNHFA said that the method could be used to determine the number of inactivated cells in lactic acid bacteria postbiotics.

It has also drafted “Fluorescent quantitative PCR detection method for inactivated Bifidobacterium lactis subsp. Lactis​”.

However, the CNHFA said on January 18​ that it was rallying the industry and public to take part to help ensure that the standards were scientifically backed and be of practical use.

Industry players and the public could send in their suggestions to the CNHFA before March 1.

The CNHFA explained that inactivated cells were essential parts of postbiotics and being able to communicate the number of inactivated cells to the consumers would help strengthen the concept of postbiotics among consumers.

“Postbiotics are a class of inactivated microorganisms and/or bacterial components with a clear genetic background that are beneficial to human health. It could come with or without their metabolites.

“Among them, inactivated cells are a necessary component when it comes to defining postbiotics. By clearing specifying the number of postbiotic-inactivated cells, [we could] build a link between postbiotics and its benefits to human health.

“Also, using the number of inactivated cells is the most straightforward method in communicating the idea of postbiotics to the consumers, and is also an important foundation for strengthening the concept of postbiotics,” ​said the CNHFA.

Postbiotics are becoming more widely used in health supplements but regulations and even its definitions remain unclear.

On January 10, the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) published a statement​ to clarify its take on postbiotics, one being that metabolites are not mandatory components of a postbiotic product.

On the other hand, in China, industry standards or “tuan biao” are drafted when national standards or “guo biao” / GB standards are absent.

Last August, the CNHFA also consulted the public when drafting industry standards for determining β-nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

It did the same in May when drafting industry standards for monitoring Cronobacter spp ​in powdered infant formula production environment.

These industry standards are not binding but may serve as a reference for the authorities when drafting the GB standards.

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