From its position of honour, top and centre, the all-caps, blocky statement definitely provides an in-your-face-ness that the brand name–all lowercase, flowing script, and funky spelling–just as definitely does not.
Just below the name, the “prebiotic” thing appears again.
PREBIOTIC HERBAL TEA
It makes a third appearance in the list of features below the flavour identifier (DARK CHOCOLATE, if you must know): the only feature of four that is not the absence of something.
PREBIOTIC • ACID FREE
CAFFEINE FREE • GLUTEN FREE
In a world of limited label space and even-more-limited consumer attention, why is it worth hitting “prebiotic” three times? To answer that, I’d need to know what the word means. I’ve heard of pro-biotic, but pre-biotic is new to me. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body. – National Institutes of Health
(Note the wording: “live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits” rather than “live microorganisms that have health benefits.” Ed.)
prebiotic: a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit – nature reviews gastroenterology and hepatology
(Health benefits are now conferred, not just intended. Progress! Ed.)
(The author, Glenn R. Gibson, is no [known] relation. Ed.)
(What’s with the lowercase, run-on journal title? Are they kidding? Ed.)
It turns out that the definition of prebiotic generates some testiness in scientific/academic circles, and not unreasonably. It seems the nutritionists pre-empted and otherwise snitched the word from the chemists.
First, ‘prebiotic’ had already been defined in the chemistry literature as building block structures that pre-date living organisms. Thus, there is extensive ‘origin of life’ literature on prebiotic chemicals unrelated to prebiotic food ingredients. – National Library of Medicine
But wait: There’s more.
Secondly, while consumers and health practitioners have a general understanding of probiotics, surveys have shown they are less knowledgeable about prebiotics and may even confuse the two terms.
The article identifies these problems en route to the conclusion that clear and useful definitions matter to everyone (researchers, regulators, healthcare practitioners, producers, consumers, nitpickers in general) but, sadly for us, has neither an alternative plain-language definition to propose, nor a process-by-which-to-get-there to suggest. It was ever thus.
In the absence of adult supervision, either in the industry or closer to home, I have a modest suggestion to clarify and simplify our lives and, not incidentally, to restore the chemists’ definitional primacy. I mean, fair is fair, am I right? (I am.) I figure if we’re confused, let’s embrace it. I mean, do I care if my gut biome is improved by adding microorganisms or food-for-microorganisms to it? (I do not.)
Herewith, then, a revised definition, with a hat tip to the Mayo Clinic’s approach, cited but not linked in the above-referenced article.
Probiotics: live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body, and the nonliving substances that said microorganisms consume for their own, and potentially our, health benefits
You read it here first. Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, and Peacekeeping to follow, I’m sure.