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PROEUHEALTH - The Food, GI-tract Functionality and Human Health Cluster

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Consumer Platform > PROSAFE
Biosafety evaluation of probiotic lactic acid bacteria used for human consumption

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have been widely used in different food applications for centuries, for example cheese production is based on bacterial fermentation. Although the long experience with LAB (e.g. lactobacilli, lactococci, enterococci, bifidobacteria) has shown that these bacteria are usually safe to use in food production, the numerous number of different strains and new applications also create a need for safety assessment. The objective of PROSAFE project is to propose criteria and guidelines for testing safety of different strains. The project will develop procedures and standardised ways to assess safety before any bacteria has been applied in food production and also ways to survey the safety issues when products are marketed.
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The great number of LAB strains from human and nutritional origin will first require a systematic description of their characteristics. A data base on the different strains will be created and maintained so that beneficial probiotic bacteria can be differentiated from other LAB strains. This will enable to monitor the presence of probiotic and other LAB strains in future studies examining the colonization in the gut.


The LAB strains are generally regarded as safe. To be absolutely sure about this, the possible safety risk of LAB strains containing resistant characteristics will be screened. The resistance means that for example antibiotics cannot destroy them. If these bacteria are ingested they may be able to transfer this resistance gene with existing bacteria in gut biota (biota = all bacteria living in gut) and thereby cause antibiotic resistance. A test which evaluates the antibiotic resistance of strains and the likelihood of their transferability will be developed.

The LAB have a varying ability to survive in body and colonise the gut. This ability wil be studied both in simulated models and healthy human volunteers.

The project will results with recommendations for biosafety evaluation of probiotic LAB. These criteria will be presented to and discussed with interested parties, including European Consumer Organizations and food industry at the final workshop


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