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Industry Probiotic Drinks
Founded 1935
Headquarters Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Key people
Sumiya Hori (Chairman), Khamis Agear(EVP for global operation)
Website www.yakult.co.jp/english/

Yakult (ヤクルト, Yakuruto) is a probiotic dairy product made by fermenting a mixture of skimmed milk with a special strain of the bacterium Lactobacillus casei Shirota. It was created by Japanese scientist Minoru Shirota, who graduated from the Medical School of Kyoto University in 1930. In 1935, he started manufacturing and selling Yakult. Official claims state that the name is derived from jahurto, an Esperanto word for "yogurt".[1] Since then, Yakult has also introduced a line of beverages for the Japanese market that contain Bifidobacterium breve bacteria, and has also used its lactobacilli research to develop cosmetics. More recently, the Yakult Honsha played a major role in developing the chemotherapy drug irinotecan (Camptosar, CPT-11).[2]

After its introduction in Japan and Taiwan, Yakult was first sold in Brazil in 1966,[3] due to the large number of Japanese immigrants in the country, before it was marketed elsewhere. Today, Yakult is sold in 31 countries,[4] although its bacteria cultures are provided from a mother strain from Japan regardless of production location.[citation needed]

Yakult is marketed in different sizes. In Australia and New Zealand, Europe, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam Yakult comes in 65mL bottles. In the United States (one of Yakult's largest selling markets), Mexico, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea, 80 ml bottles are available. It is also available in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China where Yakult comes in 100 ml bottles.[5][6][7]

The product is made by Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. (株式会社ヤクルト本社, Kabushiki-gaisha Yakuruto Honsha) (TYO: 2267), where Groupe Danone has a 20% share. The company also owns one of Japan's major baseball franchises, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. It has been also one of the partner companies of the FINA World Aquatics Championships since 2005.

Nutritional value[edit]

Standard Yakult (excludes variations such as in Yakult Light) contains:[8]

  • Sugar (sucrose, dextrose)
  • Skimmed milk powder
  • Flavours
  • Live Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain, 6.5 billion per 65 ml bottle (concentration of 108 CFU/mL)
  • Water

Standard Yakult contains 14g of sugar for every 100g, but comes in 65 ml bottles. This concentration is higher than the level defined as "HIGH" by the UK Food Standards Agency (described for concentrations of sugar above 15g per 100g).[9] As a comparison Coca-Cola and orange juice are around 10g of sugar per 100g, but with a serving size usually greater than 250 ml, while Yakult is served in much smaller doses. Based on the existence of many products like Yakult in the world market and the content of milk protein (1.4 g per 100 ml),[10] it was classified as a fermented milk named "Fermented Milk Drinks" of the Codex Standard. Through nutrient profiling guidelines, current health claim regulation in European Union may forbid the use of health claim on food products that are nutritionally unbalanced, but dairy products and probiotic drinks are likely to be considered as favourable carrier because their health benefits outweigh the fact they might be high in one of the designated 'unhealthy' ingredients.[11]

Scientific basis[edit]

According to the manufacturer's website, the benefits of Yakult consumption are supported by an array of scientific studies.[12] Those could range from maintenance of gut flora,[13] "modulation" of the immune system,[14] regulation of bowel habits and constipation[15] and finally effects on some gastrointestinal infections.[16] Although the number of scientific papers is large, most of them are based on in vitro and in vivo experiments, with some human clinical trials done on cohorts[17][18][19] and with daily consumption of 40–100 billions of probiotic L. casei Shirota,[14] far above the single bottle concentration of approximately 6.5 billion. In 2010, an EFSA panel concluded that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota and maintenance of the upper respiratory tract defence against pathogens by maintaining immune defences.[20]

The first Lactobacillus bacteria was originally isolated from human feces at Yakult Central Institute in Japan [21]


Packs of Yakult

Yakult opened a factory in Fountain Valley, California in the United States in 2014.[22] Yakult is also manufactured in Australia in Dandenong, Victoria.

In Malaysia, Yakult is manufactured at their factory located at Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

In the Philippines, Yakult opened a factory in Calamba, Laguna due to the drink's popularity in the country.

Yakult is manufactured and sold in India under a 50:50 joint-venture with Danone.[23] It is manufactured in Haryana.[24]


Yakult around the world[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dr. Shirota - Visionär und Gutmensch". Yakult Deutschland. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  2. ^ Co.,Ltd, YakultHonsha. "人も地球も健康に Yakult  医薬品事業". www.yakult.co.jp. 
  3. ^ "Yakult - Saúde Global em Harmonia". www.yakult.com.br. 
  4. ^ "Yakult Europe – Yakult worldwide". Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  5. ^ "Yakult USA". Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  6. ^ "Yakult Australia – What is Yakult?". Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  7. ^ "Yakult Taiwan". Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  8. ^ "Yakult Australia – Nutritional Information". Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  9. ^ "Food Standards Agency – Healthy Diet – Sugars". Eatwell.gov.uk. 2011-03-29. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  10. ^ http://www.yakulteurope.com/index.cfm?menuid=2&ContentID=14
  11. ^ "Nutraingredients.com". Nutraingredients.com. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  12. ^ Yakult07.co.uk Archived April 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Yakult07.co.uk Archived January 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ a b Yakult07.co.uk Archived April 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Yakult07.co.uk Archived April 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Yakult07.co.uk Archived January 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ Takeda K, Okumura K (Mar 2007). "Effects of a fermented milk drink containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota on the human NK-cell activity". J. Nutr. 137 (3 Suppl 2): 791S–3S. PMID 17311976. 
  18. ^ Morimoto K, Takeshita T, Nanno M, Tokudome S, Nakayama K (May 2005). "Modulation of natural killer cell activity by supplementation of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei in habitual smokers". Prev Med. 40 (5): 589–94. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.07.019. PMID 15749143. 
  19. ^ Spanhaak S, Havenaar R, Schaafsma G (Dec 1998). "The effect of consumption of milk fermented by Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota on the intestinal microflora and immune parameters in humans". Eur J Clin Nutr. 52 (12): 899–907. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600663. PMID 9881885. 
  20. ^ "EFSA – Scientific Opinion of the NDA Panel: Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota and maintenance of the upper respiratory tract defence against pathogens by maintaining immune defences". Efsa.europa.eu. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1860. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  21. ^ Yapp, Robin. (September 12, 2014). "Effect of Intranasal Administration ofLactobacillus casei Shirota on Influenza Virus Infection of Upper Respiratory Tract in Mice", American Society for Microbiology. Accepted 12 March 2001.
  22. ^ Mueller, Mark (June 28, 2010). "Yakult To Build Fountain Valley Plant for U.S. Expansion". Orange County Business Journal. 33 (26): 1, 23. 
  23. ^ Prakash, Saumya (21 May 2012). "Yakult Danone: Spreading far and wide". Business Standard. Retrieved Jan 7, 2017. 
  24. ^ http://www.yakult.co.in/contactus.aspx

External links[edit]