by Seppo Salminen, PhD, Professor, Director of Functional Foods Forum, University of Turku (Finland)

I first learned about ISAPP when I was invited as an expert to its second annual meeting in 2003. At the meeting, I discovered a group of people focused on scientific excellence in probiotics and prebiotics, discussing some of the most pertinent questions and envisioning how the field could move forward. I was a frequent participant in the meetings, and considered it a special scientific and personal honour when I was eventually invited to become a member of the board of directors. Currently, it is my privilege to serve as president of the organization.

ISAPP has been at the center of some of the most ambitious and important advancements in the field of probiotics and prebiotics. It has led the charge on establishing consensus scientific definitions of “probiotics” and “prebiotics”—with other consensus panels  on “synbiotics,” “fermented foods” and “postbiotics” planned for the months ahead. Although at its roots, ISAPP is a scientific organization, in recent years it has recognized the importance of science-based outreach to other stakeholders interested in probiotics and prebiotics. To this end, ISAPP has developed friendly but scientifically accurate infographics and videos, providing an antidote to the oft-inaccurate information peddled online to consumers and healthcare providers, and a free monthly newsletter. ISAPP has engaged different governmental regulatory bodies to be sure their approaches recognize the strength of the evidence. ISAPP’s long list of peer-reviewed scientific publications provides innovative perspectives for both scientists and regulatory administrators. The scientific expertise of ISAPP is valuable for helping organizations support evidence-based applications of probiotics and prebiotics, in order to advance the health and well-being of people around the world.

More than anything else, ISAPP is a community. It is a group of scientists working in many different fields and industries, from microbiology to chemistry to nutrition and gastroenterology, with a shared common vision of advancing the science for mutual benefit. Rapid development is underway with probiotics and prebiotics, leading to challenges in safety evaluation and efficacy demonstration; ISAPP is meeting these challenges head-on and serving as a ‘think tank’ and a resource for the entire field.

With the passion and dedication of members of the ISAPP community, we will continue to make progress, and following the famous entreaty “to boldly go where no one has gone before”, we are showing the true value of probiotics and prebiotics in a changing global health milieu.