Highlights from the Probiotic Summit at the Vitafoods 2017

Probiotic Summit; bridging the knowledge gap between pre- and probiotics 


This year’s Vitafoods Europe Education Programme was developed to increase flexibility offering more focused education opportunities and effective networking, as well as creating more time to also attend the Exhibition. The Education Programme had three content platforms one of which as the Probiotics Summit. The Probiotic Summit started with a keynote panel discussion dedicated to bridging the knowledge gap between probiotics and prebiotics.


Chair: George Paraskevakos, Executive Director, IPA, USA

  • Dr. Gemma Walton, Lecturer in Metagenomics, The University of Reading, UK
  • Dr. Karen Koning, Head Education & Senior Scientist, Winclove, Netherlands
  • Dr. Bradley Saville, Chief Science Officer, Prenexus Health, USA
  • Chin-Kun Wang, President, International Society of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods, Former President, Chung Shan Medical University, Honorary President, Nutrition Society of Taiwan, Taiwan


Questions addressed included

  1. What are the emerging roles of probiotics and prebiotics.
  2. Considering what we have seen on the clinical front – what would be the important characteristics of why a knowledge gap exists? Can we pinpoint areas outside of the normal historical reasons?
  3. How can we define the important roles of probiotics and prebiotics independently but also when used together? What have we seen from the science?
  4. Consider some conditions which can alter / change the gut microbiota, such as antibiotic use, stress, travel, extreme sports, our nutrition, what has the science shown and how can we use it to have a positive impact? How would this lend itself to end user market opportunities?
  5. Would obtaining our sources of pro and prebiotic rich foods be sufficient / and is there a right dose or combination of these two ingredients together? Since our microbiome is so specific to each and every one of us is there opportunities to tailor or custom formulate products?
  6. How can both fields work together? Share the science? And address the business opportunities in these new and exciting areas of the research?


The main conclusions are that the field of prebiotics is relatively new compared to probiotics.  Historically prebiotics are more focused on the influence of microbiota composition whereas probiotics focus more on the influence on disease/disorders.  All participants agree that in theory there is a lot of potential in combining specific probiotics with specific prebiotics. However, studies showing that there is an added benefit are currently lacking.