Characteristics and compositions of commercial digestive health products in Singapore


  • Wai Mun Loke
  • Rachael Tan


Digestive health products, prebiotic, probiotic, postbiotic, additives, indications


Information on the characteristics of commercial digestive health products in Singapore is limited. This study examined the prebiotic, probiotic and postbiotic compositions, additives, indications and claims of 146 such products available in major retail (43.8%) and e-commerce stores (56.2%) in Singapore. The results, recorded by trained research personnel, showed that prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics were added to 55.9%, 82.9%, and 2.8% respectively of the surveyed products. Prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics were identified in the products at 18.5%, 81.5%, and 0.7% respectively. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) were the most used prebiotics and probiotics. The products contained 64.5±50.2 mg prebiotics and 27640±42261 million CFU probiotic bacteria. Additional ingredients added to commercial digestive health products included colourings (13.7% of products), flavourings (21.9% of products), preservatives (2.7% of products), and sweeteners (28.1% of products). Titanium dioxide, lemon flavour, lactic acid, and maltodextrin were the most used colouring, flavouring, preservative, and sweetener respectively. Claims were declared on 68.5% of the products, with half claiming to be gluten-free. Gut/intestinal health was the most prevalent indication among 97.3% products with stated indications. Product characteristics from physical and e-commerce stores were similar. The study concludes that there is limited information available on added prebiotics and probiotics to assess product efficacy. Any efficacies of commercial digestive health products are not well communicated by the manufacturers. Manufacturers should make efforts to investigate the efficacies of their products and communicate these findings to consumers.