Posted December 26, 2010

Four Probiotic Products in Canada May Pose Serious Health Risks to Those with Milk or Soy Allergies

On December 24, 2010, Health Canada (the Canadian health ministry) advised consumers with milk or soy allergies that four probiotic natural health products are being voluntarily recalled from the market because they are labelled as not containing dairy (milk) and/or soy but may contain trace amounts of milk or soy protein from ingredients used in the production process.

People with allergies to milk or soy can experience a range of mild to severe symptoms when exposed to even small amounts of milk or soy proteins. These symptoms may include breathing difficulties that, in some cases, can be life threatening. It is important to note that no adverse reactions involving these products have been reported to Health Canada.

As background, Health Canada noted that live microorganisms, including probiotics, that are included in natural health products are grown in nutrient solutions called culture media. The culture media used to produce probiotics include a source of protein, which is frequently but not always derived from milk or soy, which are both priority allergens in Canada. For products that are formulated as pills or dry powders, the culture media is mostly removed before freeze-drying. Because culture media is removed, it is not considered to be a non-medicinal ingredient and is not required to be listed on product labels. However, traces of milk, soy or any other priority allergen included in culture media that was removed can remain in the product in quantities sufficient to provoke an allergic reaction in highly sensitive individuals.

The four recalled products are Advanced Orthomolecular Research Inc. Saccharomyces Boulardii, Nature’s Sunshine Herbasaurs Bifidophilus for Kids, Nature’s Sunshine Acidophilus Bifidobacterium, and Bio Sante (Bio-Dis Inc.) Cultures de Yogourt 2 Milliards. For more information, use the link below.