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Minoru Shirota (代田 稔 Shirota Minoru , April 23, 1899 – March 10, 1982) was a Japanese scientist. He was the inventor of Yakult, the yogurt-like probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus casei strain shirota.
Inspired by the writings of Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, Shirota developed a stronger strain of lactic acid bacteria which might work to destroy the harmful bacteria living in the intestines, and therefore improve and maintain the health of human beings. In 1930, Shirota was working in a microbiology lab at Kyoto Imperial University's School of Medicine when he became the first in the world to succeed in culturing a strain of lactic acid bacteria beneficial to human health. This bacterium was named Lactobacillus casei strain shirota after Shirota.
The result of his efforts was the successful culturing of Lactobacillus casei strain shirota. Shirota then began working together with supporters to make a drink incorporating the strain. This led to the development of Yakult which was introduced to the market in 1935.
He died in Tokyo, Japan in 1982.
- Company profile/philosophy at Yakult's website
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