the following excerpt from Probiotics: Nature's Internal Healers,
by Natasha Trenev:
more commonly known as FOS, is a class of simple carbohydrates found
naturally in certain plants, such as Jerusalem artichokes, onions,
and bananas. Virtually, all of the FOS added to probiotic products
in the United States is chemically manufactured. A Japanese process
is utilized in turning white, bleached cane sugar, by the action
of a fungal enzyme, into FOS - a sugar polymer that our bodies cannot
"FOS, know in
Japan as Meioligo and in scientific terms as neosugar, is used as
a sweetening agent, flavor enhancer, bulking agent, and humectant.
As a low-calorie sucrose-replacement, FOS is used in cookies, cakes,
breads, candies, dairy products, and some beverages. FOS is also
added to some Japanese health foods to promote the growth of beneficial
bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
"In 1990, Coors
Biotech, in an effort to introduce FOS into the food chain of the
United States, prepared a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) petition
to include FOS as a human food ingredient. As several years of FOS-safe
food sales are needed before this approval, the probiotic market
was chosen as an easy, nonthreatening way to get the product 'out
there.' The health food industry became an ideal test market.
of FOS in probiotic products is becoming a common practice. Many
probiotic manufacturers claim FOS is beneficial in that it feeds
friendly bacteria. Those who manufacture high-quality probiotics,
however, do not believe in using FOS. Instead, their products require
one important component - the valuable supernatant, which naturally
and specifically provides food for the bacteria.
manufacturers are concerned with the safety issue of FOS. According
to a study conducted by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives
(JECFA) of the Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health
Organization (FAO/WHO), the consumption of FOS may cause intestinal
problems, such as bloating, abdominal pain, and copious amounts
"There are a
number of additional reasons why some manufacturers of high-quality
probiotics do not add FOS to their products. They are:
- "FOS is manufactured
by chemical synthesis. The ingredient is, therefore, not natural,
but a chemical additive and may pose toxicological dangers.
- "FOS is a
sugar derivative, therefore, those with a yeast infection should
- "The stability
of FOS is poor. The industrial production of purified FOS is a
problem and still in the developmental stage.
- "FOS is inert
in the mouth and small intestine because it is not digestible
(similar to olestra). It is digested in the colon by the bacteria
and may, therefore, change the metabolic activity of the colon,
resulting in abnormal functions.
- "FOS stimulates
the growth of Klebsiella and possibly other pathogenic organisms.
In one study, Klebsiella has been associated with the autoimmune
disease ankylosing spondylitis.
- "FOS is known
to be species as well as strain specific. In other words, not
all beneficial bacteria like the FOS diet."