Probiotics, shelf life and storage

In their most natural, effective condition probiotics are alive and actively dividing; this is one of the special features of Symprove; that the four types of probiotic in our product are alive and ready to get to work from the moment you swallow the drink. Until Symprove came along the only way to achieve this was to use milk or yoghurt as the base for a probiotic product.

The downside of this is that whilst certain bacteria get along well with dairy products, other important probiotics do not, limiting the bacteria that can be offered. Some people are lactose intolerant and cannot consume dairy products, and also of course dairy products have a short shelf life measured in days rather than weeks or months as the milk or yoghurt go ‘off’.

One way around this is to offer probiotics in a freeze-dried state; this is what many of the sachets, capsules and tablets on the market do. Freeze drying involves removing all the moisture from something at low temperatures and pressures. This might be great for storing ground coffee, but when we’re talking about tiny living things such as probiotic bacteria, it’s less ideal.

A freeze-dried probiotic must first re-hydrate (absorb water) and ‘wake-up’ before it can begin to divide and deliver any benefit for the person consuming it; this often has to happen in the stomach where conditions are far from ideal for bacterial growth and vitality. The main advantage of freeze-drying is shelf life; freeze-dried products can be kept for months or even years without decaying.

So neither approach is terribly satisfactory, for years we’ve had to choose between single strain dairy products or multi-strain freeze-dried products, that is until Symprove.

Symprove uses a unique, patented process to grow multiple strains of healthy probiotic on an extract of barley. Our probiotics are live and active from the moment you swallow the barley based drink, so you can have the best of both worlds; multiple, live probiotics in a drink which will keep for up to five months in the fridge.

One of the questions we are asked is what happens if I don’t refrigerate Symprove? The short answer is very little, Symprove will not go ‘off’ if left unopened outside the fridge, it will simply warm up and the probiotic bacteria which are champing at the bit will become more active. If they are left in this condition for several weeks they will begin to exhaust the nutrients in the barley extract, but they will still be available when you swallow the product. Chilling Symprove simply slows down this process, the probiotic bacteria remain alive but have a very low metabolic rate; a little like animals hibernating.

So keep your Symprove in the fridge to get the full five months shelf life, but don’t worry about keeping it at room temperature for a few days up to a week. For most people a bottle is used up in 7 – 10 days anyway, but it’s good to know you can keep a supply in the fridge for when you need it.

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