As Probiotics Expand, Confusion Sets In
Many questions linger about 'friendly' bacteria
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jun 18, 2009 5:43 PM CDT
Attune Foods, maker of the world's first probiotic chocolate bar, is introducing its latest creations: Coffee Bean, Raspberry and Almond chocolate bars packed with probiotics.   (Photo: Business Wire)
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(Newser) – Probiotics are branching out of the dairy aisle and into all types of food—from pizza to cereal—as marketers try to sell the health benefits. Seems like good news. The so-called friendly bacteria is supposed to help with digestion and boost the immune system, among other things. The problem is that scientists say the jury's still out on such claims, raising the danger that consumers will end up hoodwinked and confused, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Doctors believe probiotics are generally safe, but the word is widely misused in the food industry. The European Union has recently started regulating the health claims, and Dannon is now fighting a lawsuit that it misled consumers with its Activia and DanActive products. Generally, probiotics are food or beverages that include live organisms, but the FDA points out that there's no standard definition. In other words, buyer beware.