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Purpose: To assess four probiotic products available in community pharmacies in Benin City, Nigeria for accuracy of information on product labels with regard to the quantity and type of microorganisms, pH and bile tolerance, and antimicrobial activity.
Methods: Percent label compliance of products was determined, in addition to isolation, identification and enumeration of microorganisms. Determination of pH and bile tolerance was conducted using turbidity studies in MRS broth. Antimicrobial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Klebsiella pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans pathogens was investigated using agar overlay technique.
Results: In each product, there was 100 % label compliance with regard to name of probiotic organism, storage condition, dose, expiration date, contact details and batch number. Three-quarters (75 %) of the probiotic products indicated product net quantity, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) number, and microbial count; 50 % of products indicated the excipients used, while only 25 % of the products showed their indications. None of the products indicated strain designation. In species identification, Enterococcus faecium was absent in a multi-species product PB1, while PB3 contained Saccharomyces cerevisiae instead of Saccharomyces boulardii. Enumeration showed comparatively low quantities of probiotic organisms. Tolerance to pH 3 and pH 7, and bile levels of 0.3 and 2 % were within acceptable range. The probiotic organisms demonstrated antimicrobial effect specifically against P. aeruginosa, E. coli, B. subtilis, K. pneumonia, S. aureus and C. albicans.
Conclusion: Antimicrobial effect and tolerance to pH and bile salts were consistent with acceptable properties of probiotics. However, there is need for total compliance with the indications, strain designation, excipients, and actual quantity of the individual probiotic organisms in the formulations.
Keywords: Probiotics, Strain designation, Agar overlay technique, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces boulardii