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Nowadays, human tends to have poor diets and thus, leading to poor digestive system that can cause different types of diseases and cancers. For instances, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) [the most common gastrointestinal disorder, thought to affect approximately 15% of the population], Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD,) diarrhoea, and colon cancer. A poor diet of rushed, irregular meals containing too much alcohol, fatty food, too little fibre and certain foods, especially those rich in fat and protein, can also encourage the growth of some harmful bacteria in our intestines. As we get older, the environment in our intestines changes, becoming less hospitable to the beneficial bacteria. These beneficial bacteria have crucial functions for our health- breaking down fragments of undigested food, keeping harmful bacteria and yeast in check plus producing lactic acid, a natural by-product which stimulates movement of food through the intestines. In other words, factors that affect us daily in our busy modern lifestyles can affect our health by upsetting our intestinal flora.
Probiotics. The idea is to keep the number of beneficial bacteria as high as possible so consuming beneficial bacteria is one way to help. Foods and drinks containing these beneficial bacteria are called Probiotics. Yakult (which is discovered by Dr. Minoru Shirota) is a fermented milk drink made by fermenting skim milk powder, water and sugar with the beneficial live probiotic strain of good bacteria Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain. Probiotics are friendly bacteria or yeasts that have been used for centuries as natural ingredients in health-promoting foods, and recent scientific studies support the many health benefits of probiotics. Today, more and more people worldwide are turning towards probiotics for healthy living. The bacteria cultures are still imported from a mother strain in Japan regardless of production location. Ideally the digestive system should contain greater amounts of friendly, beneficial bacteria in order to outnumber those that are potentially harmful. Yakult helps keep the balance between the beneficial and potentially harmful bacteria living in the digestive system. Each 65 ml bottle contains approximately 6.5 billion bacteria, enough to help replenish the levels of good bacteria in the digestive system.
Biological methods and processes
Firstly, we must mix all of the Raw Ingredients.Live Lactobacillus caseiShirota strain is cultured in a 'seed tank'in our laboratory. Skim milk powder is mixed with sugar, glucose and filtered, sterilised water to make a sweet milky solution. Next, sterilisationprocess starts.
The sweet, milky solution is sterilised at a high temperature for a short time, destroying any bacteria that may be present. The solution is then transferred to a 6,500-litre culture tank via a closed system of pipes and valves. Then, the temperature of the culture tankis reduced to 37Â°C and live Lactobacillus caseiShirota strain is added. The solution is allowed to ferment for about one week until the number of Lactobacillus caseibacteria reaches an ideal concentration. The concentrate is transferred to a 12,000-litre mixing and storage tank. The tank is chilled to around 2Â° C. Sterilised flavours, syrup solution, vitamins and calcium are added to the concentrate. Prior to bottling, the concentrate is diluted with filtered, sterile water.Injection Blow Moulding Machineis where the plastic bottles are produced. The bottles are made from polystyrene. Filling and packaging machine- the bottles are wrapped with individual bottle labels. Then, they are filled with Yakult, capped with a foil lid, sealed and transferred along the conveyor belt to the packaging facility. Single bottles of Yakult are sorted into groups of five and shrink-wrapped in polypropylene film. Ten "5-packs"are grouped together and wrapped again in polyethylene film and then heat shrunk, forming a 'carton'of 50 Yakult bottles. Finished products are kept refrigerated in refrigeration roombefore delivery to stores. Yakult maintains a comprehensive quality assurance program in order to ensure that our product is of the highest quality. For this reason, samples are collected for laboratory analysis throughout the production process to confirm that the quality assurance measures in place have been effective. Yakult adheres to a comprehensive hygiene and sanitation program, following a cleaning program that is predominantly governed by CIP (Cleaning in Place). Chlorine based chemicals are not used. The amount of solid waste is relatively small. Any liquid waste goes into a holding tank in our water treatment facility. The acidity (pH) of the water is adjusted with acid or alkaline before being released into the sewage system.
Are the biological methods appropriate?
The methods are appropriated as study has shown that the effect of Shirota strain on maintain balance of intestinal flora.A complex intestinalmicroflora provides protection against colonization by many pathogenic infectious agents. The Bifidobacteria used in Yakults (Probiotics) work by forming acetic and lactic acids in the intestine. These acids lower the pH in the intestines and create a hostile environment for unwanted or "bad" bacteria, such as Pseudomonas, salmonellae, E. coli and staphylococci. In those unfortunate situations when "bad" bacteria do thrive, gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, gassiness and diarrhea may result.
In addition to that, more than 150 samples per production run, upon which a total of more than 200 tests are conducted. These determine Lactobacillus caseinumbers, check for potential contaminants, microbiological quality, composition, acidity, physical attributes and taste. In addition, each bottle is inspected for undesirable markings and incorrect printing. Steam, an environmentally friendly cleaner, is used to sterilize the pipes and tanks. A single phase chemical cleaner is used, reducing the numbers of chemicals introduced into the drains.
2.1 Two implications of the applied biology
Probiotics are live, good bacteria that when consumed in high numbers are scientifically proven to positively affect our health. The usage of probiotics can enhance our live. Thus, some findings say that we can consume Yakult every day. However, Yakult is found to contain about 80% more sugar than a "Coca cola" drink. Hence, will we suffer from diabetes after several years of consuming Yakult regularly? This shows that there might have some long-term side effects and so, the ethical issue is clearly shown. Jane Franks, a nutritionist at Abertay university in Dundee, said: "The way the products are marketed makes the public think they are healthy. They are not aware of the high sugar content and this should be highlighted."
Another implication is that the bottles of yakult used are plastics which are non-biodegradable.The disposal of the bottles might cause harm to the environmental which will pollute the Mother Nature. Plastics are synthetic substances produced by chemical reactions. Almost all plastics are made from petroleum, except a few experimental resins derived from corn and other organic substances. It will end up clogging the drains and becoming a health hazard. The soil fertility deteriorates as the plasticsform part of manure remains in the soil for years.
2.2 Evaluate benefits and risks
Yakult is effective in altering fermentation patterns in the small bowel, consistent with reducing Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). The loss of ERBHAL was associated with reduced symptoms.Yakult may be a safe and effective alternative treatment for irritable bowel syndrome sufferers. A previous placebo controlled trial suggested that consumption of Yakult is able to modulate the composition and metabolic activity of the intestinal flora. Other studies have also suggested that daily intake of Yakult provides a positive effect on NK-cell (natural killer) activity.
The Shirota strain is "strong"- it is highly acid resistant. Because of this special characteristic, it is able to survive the journey from our mouth through the stomach and arrive alive in intestine where it helps to maintain the balance of intestinal flora and promotes good health. Yakult which contain no colouring and stabilisers preservatives are good for health generally as adding colouring will cause asthma and allergy.
The disadvantage of yakult are that it needs to be refrigerated. Another risk however, will be that as said earlier in 2.1, which is the usage of non-biodegradable plastic for packaging, production of carbon dioxide due to the fermentation process. Furthermore, Yakult is found to contain about 80% more sugar than a "Coca cola" drink, which is to supplement the growth of the probacteria in Yakult. Yakult contains 18g of sugar per 100g, Flora pro.activ raspberry 12.3g, Müller Vitality strawberry 12.6g and Danone Actimel multifruit 14.2g. Coca-Cola contains 10g of sugar per 100g.
(The Sunday Times, October 23, 2005)
Alternative views and solutions
Recently, Yakult Ace Light, an innovative cultured milk drink product is introduced to the Malaysian market. Along with a high concentration of 30 billion live probiotic bacteria in each bottle, Yakult Ace Light contains almost 50 percent less sugar compared to the original Yakult Ace. It can help to encourage the growth of good bacteria and suppresses the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines. Besides, it reduces the production of toxins in our body, enhance bodily immunity, which combats infectious diseases and controls the occurrence of cancer cells.
Moreover, polystyrene bottles of Yakult which is non-biodegradable should be changed to biodegradable plastics which can decompose after a long time. This is to obviate the disposal problems and to prevent environmental pollution.