Can you freeze probiotics? (+5 key facts)
In this article, we will answer the question “Can you freeze probiotics?” and discuss how to store probiotics.
Can you freeze probiotics?
Yes, you can freeze probiotics, most friendly bacteria or yeasts may survive the freezing storage for a considerable period, but be aware of the type of product you want to freeze, the result may not be the same for a capsule, powder, or food(1).
Not all products containing probiotics may improve the shelf life of the microorganisms when frozen, for example, if a product with probiotics contains water, when the water gets frozen it gets a needle shape around the bacteria and may harm them(1).
Will freezing probiotics could kill them?
Freezing probiotics may not kill them in most cases, they may not even be alive, some types of probiotics like Bacillus clausii are administered like spores ( a state of bacteria to get protection in adverse conditions), like seeds that need to reach your gut to grow (2), in this case, a bacteria, not a plant (thankfully).
If a probiotic is stored in a freezer, the frigid temperatures will put the probiotics into a dormant condition, nonetheless, it may reduce the amount of bacteria and will continue reducing as long as it stays in the freezer(2).
It is possible that part of the probiotics if they are in food, will be damaged by keeping it in a freezer for an extended period, so it’s important to remember for how long the food may be stored, if its a yogurt enhanced with probiotics, well, two months top is the limit recommended (3).
Do you need to refrigerate your probiotics?
You don´t always need to refrigerate probiotics, if it’s required that may be marked on the package. It is also a good rule of thumb to look at how your probiotic was kept when you purchased it..
Temperature-controlled storage may be required if you purchased probiotics in a refrigerated area, or if you received the product from the manufacturer with an ice pack.
When it comes to probiotics, the label will tell you whether they are made using shelf-stable technology or not. Many manufacturers also provide additional instructions on how to properly store non-refrigerated probiotics to increase their shelf life(4).
Is it best to keep probiotics in the fridge?
If it is best or not to keep probiotics in the fridge, depends on the indications that are on the label, and certainly is based on the type of probiotic and technology used (1).
You could find some probiotics that encourage you to keep them refrigerated, which could be according to how the probiotic was processed, if it was by a technology called freeze-dried (freezing and evaporating at the same time), refrigeration may be used to make them shelf-stable, effectively (5).
If you think that refrigerated probiotics are less laden with additives, this isn´t always true, if those probiotics are in food, it might be that refrigeration is for preserving the whole food, not just the probiotics (6).
Remember that because a product says that contains probiotics, doesn´t mean it is a probiotic, for example, yogurt, which is a fermented food, may contain beneficial bacteria, but still not exactly a probiotic unless it´s enhanced to reach the proper concentration, 1×109 UFC(7).
Where should probiotics be kept?
Shelf-stable probiotics not necessarily need to be refrigerated, but there are a few things you can do to extend their shelf life(8):
-Proper storage is essential when it comes to probiotics, remember that keeping probiotics in the original packaging is the first step.
-If you see a sachet inside the bottle, don´t throw it away, It´s for eliminating humidity on the inside, which should maintain the stability of probiotics.
-Make sure probiotics are kept in a cool, dry location, and avoid rooms with high temperatures and humidity like shower bathrooms, or even near the stove
-Make certain that probiotics are well-sealed.
Can probiotic supplements expire?
Probiotics, like all live organisms, ultimately perish or expire., nonetheless actually there´s no clear consensus on how long a probiotic may last(9), it would also depend on the type of probiotic(5),
What is clear regarding the expiration of probiotic supplements is that the more the storage time, the probiotic loses effectiveness, and more so if not kept in adequate conditions(8).
So, to be sure about a probiotic expiration date and if consume it or not after expiration, it´s better to stick to the one on the label, to avoid any concern that comes with its consumption, even if its safety is a must for being a probiotic(10).
If your probiotic supplement doesn´t have an expiration date (that might be estimated, besides validated), it could be a red flag, and more so if the probiotic strain or concentration is not declared (11), a recommendation would be to look for a more serious brand.
What happens if you ingest expired probiotics?
If you ingest expired probiotics, you shouldn´t worry, it certainly has a significant time in storage, which means that probably most of the microorganisms might not be alive to confer the health benefit that you are looking for, doesn´t matter if you store it in perfect conditions (12).
Although dead probiotics have been shown to confer health benefits(13), if you consume expired probiotics, the initial health target for what the probiotic was designed for, may not occur, because of the lack of adequate concentrations to confer a health benefit.
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In this article, we answered the question “Can you freeze probiotics?” and discussed what to have in mind if you want to store probiotics
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