The Ciambello cheese will contain the bacteria BB-12, and has been aimed at the Italian market because of the countries interest in buying cheese and a growing public awareness of diet-related health benefits, Chr Hansen said. Dairy foods, including fermented milks and yoghurts, are among the best accepted food carriers for probiotic cultures, and the stores in Italy already have a wide range of probiotic yoghurts and milk drinks on the shelves the company said yesterday. However, companies are increasingly looking at other ways of using probiotics, which are frequently limited to refrigerated foods as they are sensitive to heat, humidity and other harsh conditions. Canada's Lallemand established a new division under its Specialities business called Lal'Food. One of Lal'Food's functions is to find uses for existing documented strains beyond dairy and dietary supplements. The company was also looking at developing chocolate bars with a probiotic coating. This summer New Zealand firm EnCoate said it was developing a technique to extend the shelf life of probiotics by two years, to help increase the number of foods it could be used in. Chr Hansen said the move to see the probiotic in cheese was also due to the fact overall consumption of cheese in Italy reached 1,368,000 tons (23.4 kg per capita) in 2005, growing by 2.18 per cent from the previous year. Marco Loguercio, dairy manager at Chr. Hansen Italy, said: "Like other dairy products cheese it is a good medium for probiotic bacteria. The bacteria can be used as an adjunct culture with the normal cheese starter cultures, without affecting the taste or structure of the cheese. "Probiotic cheese also has the obvious advantage that consumers can get the probiotic bacteria without really changing their eating habits. All they have to do is eat a slice of cheese." It will be made at the Bidino cheese factory, which according to the owner Dr Renzo Di Bidino had wanted to develop a probiotic cheese for more than a decade. He said: "For many years I have wanted to make a cheese that did not only taste well, but also did something extra good for the consumers. And together with Chr. Hansen we have made exactly this." Just last month Chr Hansen announced it would have the probiotic strains strains BB-12, TH-4 and CRL-431 put into supplements aimed at children, also to be launched in Italy. The group said that probiotics for children is a largely untapped market in Europe and could be another outlet for the use of the bacteria in human health.
A cheese containing a Chr Hansen probiotic has been launched in Italy, a move which reinforces the growing trend for companies to use probiotics outside of the traditional yoghurt pot.