Probiotic Meeting Summary

Special Interest Group Meeting 07 March 2019

Our first meeting of 2019, looked at the issue of ‘live bacteria’, previously marketed as probiotic food supplements. This meeting forms part of a two part SIG meeting Farm to Fork, looking at the impact of microorganisms in our food. The opening address defined Pre/Pro and Post Biotics. Put simply, prebiotics “feed” the probiotics (beneficial bacteria/yeasts) in your gut, and end up producing a by-product called postbiotics. The market continues to grow, despite the fact that little can be said about them on pack, as the ingredient Pre/Pro biotics as a name is considered to be a health claim in Europe.

An introduction to the microbiome, pre and probiotics was given Neil Williams from Nottingham Trent University(NTU), with his presentation ‘Targeting the gut microbiota through diet  to improve health and exercise performance.’ Although a sport scientist by profession, Dr Williams was well qualified to talk about microorganisms and their application in performance sport and this drives his research into asthma and a healthy microbiome. Humans as described as superorganism as we are host to 100 trillion microorganisms which outnumber our cells 3:1. Neil gave an overview of a recent trial that showed that a diet with probiotics reduced number of participants experiencing episodes of acute URTI by 47% and the duration of an episode of acute URTI by 1.89 days, whilst his own study with prebiotics showed a 40% improvement in lung function.  

Jamie Christie from Nutrasolve, gave overall view of what probiotics has been used for in research for a number of conditions, where some association may exist, with an increasing focus on how to adjust our microbiome in order to adjust our own health. He then shared some technical insights in to the stability of probiotics, as live organisms they can be sensitive to heat, humidity and very sensitive (ie die) if exposed to both. Emphasis was given to the supply chain of live bacteria.

Nick Bennet gave very well-informed regulatory view of pre and probiotics. Whilst these are prohibited phrases when used on food supplements, some European countries have brought in their own generic descriptors to facilitate companies market these products e.g. probiotic in Italy, with an approved health claim. ‘supports the balance of the intestinal flora’. Nick gave some background on potential changes in the regulatory environment with the aims of the International Probiotics Association in Europe who are looking to develop criteria to qualify a microorganism designated as ‘probiotic’ in foods, beverages and dietary supplements”.

After the break, we welcomed Max Bardwell from NTU to give an unbiased overview of the what local universities can offer, an understanding of their funding/availability and he was able to share some case studies on how companies can start collaborations with local universities to develop commercial offer or improve knowledge in an area. The overriding theme was how to get the most from your local university.

The final speaker of the day was Linda Booth, founder of Just for Tummies- a Nottingham based company who have developed a food supplement range to support digestive health and wellbeing. This was Linda’s very first PowerPoint presentation (by a confident presenter). She gave insight as to why she decided to pursue this new opportunity (she is a colon hydro therapist by profession). Linda was able to share some understanding behind the range she developed and what it was like to appear on BBC’s Dragons Den.  

There is a growing local research interest in microbiomes, as demonstrated by the ‘Antimicrobial Resistance, Omics and Microbiota group’  at Nottingham Trent University. They specialise in microbiome research, with labs fully equipped for working with aerobic, microaerophilic and anaerobic bacteria. Please contact Dr Lesley Hoyles ( if you would like to know more.

This meeting was supported by the INSTILs project funded by D2N2. The presenters and meeting were very well received by the audience on the day. Our next meeting will be 11 July –  the subject will be Cannabidiol.


The second Farm to Fork meeting with the Special Interest Group on Infectious Diseases will be on 03 April 2019.