ISAPP created this infographic to explain the information on a probiotic labels. Our example portrays an imaginary dietary supplement for sale in the United States. Labels on foods containing a probiotic or a probiotic produced in another country would be labeled differently from this example to comply with applicable regulations. For those interested in probiotic labels in the EU, see the infographic ISAPP created for a probiotic product in the European Union. Also of interest, created an infographic on “How to Read a Dietary Supplement Label” for U.S. products.

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According to the FAO/WHO 2002  Working Group on Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food (page 39 of this combined document), the following information should be on probiotic labels:

– Genus, species and strain designation for each probiotic strain in the product.

– Minimum viable numbers of each probiotic strain at the end of the shelf-life, typically expressed in colony forming units (or cfu). (Note: in practice, probiotic labels often give a total count for all strains combined. In this case it is not possible to know if all strains in a product are at roughly the same level or at very different levels.)

– The suggested serving size (or dose) must deliver the effective dose of probiotics related to any health benefit communicated on the label.

– Health claim(s) (as allowed by law and substantiated by studies)

– Proper storage conditions

– Corporate contact details for consumer information

These principles are reiterated in “Best Practices Guidelines for Probiotics” (2017) developed by the Council for Responsible Nutrition and IPA.

About the author: Mary Ellen Sanders, Ph.D. is an expert in probiotic microbiology. She was the founding president of ISAPP and currently serves as its Executive Science Officer. She also consults with companies on microbiological and regulatory issues concerning probiotics.