Microbiologic evaluation of commercial probiotics

J. Scott Weese DVM, DVSc, DACVIM1
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON Canada N1G 2W1.


Objective—To evaluate contents of commercial probiotic products marketed for veterinary or human administration.

Design—Microbiologic culture assay.

Sample Population—8 veterinary probiotics and 5 human probiotics.

Procedure—Quantitative bacteriologic culture was performed on all products, and isolates were identified via biochemical characteristics. Comparison of actual contents versus label claims was performed.

Results—Label descriptions of organisms and concentrations accurately described the actual contents of only 2 of 13 products. Five veterinary products did not specifically list their contents. Most products contained low concentrations of viable organisms. Five products did not contain 1 or more of the stated organisms, and 3 products contained additional species. Some products contained organisms with no reported probiotic effects; some of these organisms could be pathogens.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Most commercial veterinary probiotic preparations are not accurately represented by label claims. Quality control appears to be poor for commercial veterinary probiotics. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220:794–797)