The International Probiotics Association (IPA) will next year hold the first of what is set to be a biennial conference dedicated to the development of effective probiotics.
The IPA World Congress will is being organized in association with the American Gastroenterological Association Institute (AGA) and will include health professionals, researchers and food and supplement industry representatives. The conference will run for 2 days and involve various presentations on probiotic-related topics.
Probiotics, also known as "friendly bacteria", have grown in popularity at a rapid rate as the public has become aware of the potential health benefits from supplementing their diet with the microorganisms. Various factors such as stress and poor diet can lead to probiotic bacteria in the gut being outnumbered by pathogenic bacteria. This situation can then lead to symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain. Taking probiotic supplements or eating foods containing probiotic bacteria can help to redress this imbalance and can also have other benefits such as protection from a variety of chronic conditions. The global market for probiotic products in 2006 was reported at $4.1b.
Despite a huge and rapidly growing research base demonstrating the wide array of benefits from probiotic bacteria, the industry has thus far escaped regulation leading to many products entering the marketplace making claims which can't be backed up. The IPA says there is a difference between different ingredients labelled as probiotics and that not all products labeled as probiotics behave in the same way.
There are many companies out there making probiotic products based on solid research but equally there are many who try to pass off their products based on this same research when it doesn't actually apply.
The IPA was founded in 2001 and became fully active in 2005 with the aim of establishing a certification program and independent testing of probiotic products so that consumers can be sure the product they purchase will benefit them as expected. The World Congress conference is the next step for the IPA and is intended to help further cooperation between health professionals, researchers and probiotic manufacturers.