Thursday, July 29, 2010

When is Yogurt no longer a Probiotic?

Many yogurt manufacturers in the USA seem to have made a change in the yogurt sold in stores. Is this change to increase their profits by eliminating live cultures in the yogurt?

Yogurt is widely touted as probiotic... According to Wikipedia, "Probiotics are live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures; such as in yogurt, or as dietary supplements." We all know to eat more yogurt to replenish good bacteria in the intestines after we have taken a round of antibiotics, but those days may be over in many locations.

I know the "trend" is the small snack-size yogurt cups with lots of HFCS-sweeetened fruit/flavor which add unhealthy calories to the diet, but I thought at least they also contained some live cultures. (I don't buy them; they're just a snack-size candy bar.)

I generally make my own yogurt, which is an easy process that gives me a healthy probiotic at a much lower cost than buying it from a store. The ingredients are simple: milk, and a store-bought yogurt to use as a starter (which is nothing more than a small portion of yogurt containing active live cultures). My preference for a yogurt to use as a starter is the Greek FAGE yogurt, but there is not a store within a hundred miles that carries that brand. So, typically I have used Dannon's plain yogurt, which has always stated it contained live cultures.

Over the last 6-8 months a local friend and I both have had trouble making yogurt; we concluded the commercial yogurt available around here (including Dannon) must contain fewer live cultures than they did previously. Then just last week I looked in the Kroger store for more yogurt to use as a starter. Not a single container stated it contained live cultures, not even the Dannon brand! Even the "Greek-style" yogurts on the shelf had no live cultures.

Most of the yogurt brands did contain some form of a thickening agent, but no live cultures. That's not much of a problem for me since I can plan ahead and save one jar of homemade yogurt from the last batch to use as a starter for the next batch. I can also buy dried yogurt culture on the internet even though I have been told it really isn't as good as using live cultures.

However, this may be a problem for folks who don't read the labels every time. They may think the yogurt still has live cultures simply because it used to, and fail to read the label.

Checked another store in another town this week; they carried 2 brands containing live cultures: Stoneyfield, and Brown Cow. However, there were not many tubs of either... in fact just 3 of the Brown Cow.


  1. Don't know if it's available in your area but Nancy's yogurt has live cultures

  2. Thanks. That must be a regional brand, I don't recall ever seeing the name.

  3. Nancy's yogurt is made in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

    I'm glad you were able to find some yogurt with live cultures in your area.

  4. Thanks for the 'location' for Nancy's Yogurt.

    I travel to Charlottesville (VA) several times a year to see my liver doctor(s) and am able to get good yogurt there, too. Plus, I bought some dried yogurt culture from New England Cheesemaker's Supply, just in case.


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