US Academic Integrity Problems in University

The summary of ‘An Economic Analysis of Academic Dishonesty and Its Deterrence in Higher Education’
This document mainly discusses the issues of academic integrity. It makes a detailed analysis on the academic integrity problems now in American universities that are summarized. Why so many students choose to cheat? What kind of students are enrolled in academic dishonesty? (almost all). The relationship between market supply and academic dishonesty. Suggestions and measures relevant institutions take on this problem. The problem of academic dishonesty criticism can be seen everywhere in this document. More and more academic cheating makes the whole education system have a big hole. Low achievers destroyed the whole academic system balance. Author urge students not to do academic cheating. Prevention of academic dishonesty and severe the punitive measures have been implemented. Although the article mentioned several times completely ruled out is not possible with academic integrity, hope that all students and faculties for fairness and justice, to resist this phenomenon.
This document is made up with six parts. They are followed by introduction, state of the union on academic dishonesty, microeconomic arguments on academic honesty/ dishonesty, what the students say: a look at survey results, proposals and resolutions, and conclusions.
In the first part, the author introduces the good academic achievement have a tremendous influence to students. Stephen K. Happeln and Marianne M. Jenningsnn(2008, P183) argue that “the underlying contract in higher education is that students, in exchange for demonstration of individual skills and predetermined levels of under- standing, are evaluated objectively by faculty and rewarded by the reflection of a grade-level performance on their permanent records. in addition to providing a system that can reflect mastery or training in particular subject matters, grading and student evaluation mechanisms, with their rewards and punishments, prepare students for the workplace and its market forces: good performance is rewarded and poor performance and dishonesty are punished. are punished”.It is not only for his/ her individual ability’s evidence, but also is a kind of school’s student evaluation mechanisms and society’s acceptance. More important, which is also the theme of this document-Academic Honesty. The education can provide training and assigning evaluations in exchange for course assignment, work, and requirements- -students enter labor markets burnishing their college degrees as a signal to potential employers. ( Stephen K. Happeln and Marianne M. Jenningsnn, 2008, P184) Academic integrity is not reflected in the academic achievements of the students, but also reflects his influence on society as a whole. The ability to work with academic degrees and diplomas does not allow people to recognize academic achievement, which is a violation of the rights and interests of honest and trustworthy students.

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In the second part, it describes the crowd statistics of the phenomenon of academic dishonesty and the attitude of people to academic integrity. “A survey by pennsylvania state university, rutgers university, and washington state university reveals that fifty-six percent of masters of business administration (MBA) students admit that they took notes into exams surreptitiously, stole work from others, and engaged in other forms of cheating.” (available at the center for academic integrity, located at clemson university,P187)”…..surveyed 5,331 students at thirty-two graduate schools in the united states and canada between 2002 and 2004. the study concluded that forty-seven percent of nonbusiness students admitted to some form of serious academic dishonesty during the previous school year.”( Francesca Di Meglio,2006, P187) These two examples shows the serious of academic integrity. Nearly half of the students in higher education also have academic dishonesty. This is an amazing and terrible phenomenon. In the high school students are cheating so, so in a relatively low level of school, this phenomenon will be more serious. In the latter, this document also mentioned, almost all the students will the academic dishonesty naturally or unconsciously. This is the consensus of every academic dishonesty students, better grades for their work to better help. People do not pay attention to the moral problems and punishment, because the punishment does not deter them. There is a more strange and serious problem, Stephen K. Happeln and Marianne M. Jenningsnn(2008, P190) point that” Some MBA students were outraged at the editorial, and they too denied that there was a significant problem with cheating.” It also reflects the problems of the education system, but fortunately most people are in favor of the severe suppression and punishment of academic integrity.
The third part use microeconomic arguments specific analysis of the reasons for the existence of the phenomenon of academic cheating, as well as the relationship between the current marketplace. “Hayek points to knowledge as a commodity that must flow as freely as possible if the marketplace is to maximize society’s welfare.” (Friedrich A. Hayek, 1945, P191) In simple terms, academic cheating is now in direct proportion to the extent to which it is accepted by society. The author uses the supply curve to describe the phenomenon. “Initially, demand may be quite inelastic for many students. they have been told repeatedly that cheating is wrong, …..but eventually a price will be reached where demand becomes quite elastic due, for example, to negligible enforcement or the realization that almost everyone is now cheating.”( Stephen K. Happeln and Marianne M. Jenningsnn,2008, P199) “faculty view the academic dishonesty problem in terms of the demand and supply of academic honesty.” .”( Stephen K. Happeln and Marianne M. Jenningsnn,2008, P200) On one side, because more and more low level students have achieved good results with academic dishonesty, many good students have hesitated to join in the behavior. On the other side, the neglect of this phenomenon by the faculty makes academic dishonesty increasingly rampant. From the market perspective, the academic integrity’s survey will cost amount of money and energy. So only to college diploma to measure a student’s academic level makes dishonest problems have become increasingly serious. This seems to form a cycle of death.
The forth and fifty parts are relatively, a look at survey result that students talk about integrity dishonesty and the proposals and resolutions. It can be included with four words-affidavit, report, punish and curb. Students sign an affidavit to insurance their academic integrity. Students report the academic dishonesty to faculty immediately. Those academic dishonesty students will be severely punished. ASU has absolutes acceptance for academic integrity that curb the academic dishonesty. “The recommendations were met with grateful support from deans, who agreed that visible steps were necessary to change the culture.” (Cultural reforms come from symbolism, P205) This shows that all members of the community to create an academic integrity and the determination of the real talents. However, the cause of academic dishonesty is also a common social contradictions Stephen K. Happeln and Marianne M. Jenningsnn(2008,P207) also showed that “students stress the pressure they feel to make good grades, especially by parents who are paying tuition. …..students are also vocal about how poor teachers encourage academic dishonesty if tests have little to do with class discussions or are so outlandishly hard that mass cheating seems the only answer. quite a few added, ”you don’t cheat in classes you love.” It is common for students to pursue a better academic achievement at the expense of their family. The latter phenomenon is the problem of the university school system, where faculties or college and students all want to get better grades to prove themselves, which have created a large number of open academic dishonesty. Then, an interesting ideas exist the academic dishonesty students, “some individuals just get a high out of cheating and seem to enjoy the thrill of getting away with it”(P207). There are six resolutions that the SFPC came forward for the Faculty Senate in March 2005. The first resolution build an orientation that pay attention to academic integrity culture. The second is in order to enhance the culture with a specific action-brochures. Th third promote faculty to use a website in their syllabus that encourage students do not have academic cheating. The fourth, encouraging faculties to use anti-plagiarism software. The fifth, established in each college to monitor large sections. The sixth, each college designate an individual who serves as the lead authority when cheating problems arise in the college. (P210)
Above, the last step has a conclusion about the total document, according to the academic dishonesty of this phenomenon have occurred, the relevant departments have taken corresponding measures. Students because of vanity and herd mentality, students choose academic cheating. This not only undermines the market demand to have the ability people. The whole society in the loss of credit environment. In addition, make more students lose confidence in academic integrity, which makes the whole country level decreased. At last, the author supports changing the university culture to change the academic integrity. Through a series of small reforms to complete the reform of the entire academic credit.
References
An Economic Analysis of Academic Dishonesty and Its Deterrence in Higher Education . Stephen K. Happeln and Marianne M. Jenningsnn. Journal of legal studies education volume 25, issue 2, 183-214, summer/fall 2008..
Available at the center for academic integrity, located at clemson university, http://www. academicintegrity.org/cai_research/index.php.
Francesca Di Meglio, a crooked path through business school?, sept. 24, 2006, http://www. businessweek.com.
Friedrich A. Hayek, the use of knowledge in society, 35 am. econ. rev. 519 (1945).

Integrity Testing’s Role in a Formal Selection Program

ABSTRACT

Integrity tests are seen as a superior alternative to polygraph tests and interviews. In fact, the use of integrity tests in selection decisions has grown dramatically in the past decade. The tests are especially likely to be used where theft, safety, or malfeasance is an important concern. Such, as in the hospitality industry. The promise of integrity testing is that it will weed out those most prone to counterproductive work behaviors. Clearly, integrity is an important quality in applicants; integrity tests are designed to tap this important attribute (Heneman, Judge, & Kammeyer-Mueller, 2012).

Background

Integrity testing can help the Sleep Tight Inn management determine which of their prospective hires are likely to engage in unproductive, dangerous, or otherwise risky actions on the job. Candidates are surprisingly candid in answering test questions about their workplace theft or drug abuse, but the tests also have control questions intended to indicate when an applicant is attempting to game the test. Although tests represent an additional expense in the hiring process, a study of a large hotel chain found that the savings in screening out potentially expensive employees more than made up for the costs of conducting the tests (Sturman & Sherwyn, 2007).

Integrity Testing’s Role in a Formal Selection Program

When an organization is seeking to formalize its selection program, it has to consider utilizing a standardized selection tool, execute a thorough job analysis and develop job descriptions for each position. This process is needed in order to answer the question of why a selection process should be put into place to help determine if an applicant’s qualifications fit the requirements of the position and the organization (Fried & Fottler, 2014). Integrity testing introduces another element of standardization into the formal selection process. Using a standardized testing methodology allows for an equal and fair assessment of all job applicants. This helps reduce the incidence of selection bias and can help reduce the company’s liability for a discrimination claim. Additionally, using a formal selection program can help reduce the costs associated with the selection process, as recruiting high-quality candidates can have a direct impact on retention rates.

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Integrity testing can also impact the performance appraisal process, as it helps recruit and retain motivated, reliable employees. The hospitality industry is dependent on the guest experience and positive feedback to remain profitable. Part of that experience is ensuring that Sleep Tight Inn’s employees do not steal from the guests, or the organization. Integrity testing can help deter theft when it is used in conjunction with other loss control programs, such as training programs designed to teach current employees how to exhibit the highest level of integrity while coping with various workplace pressures. For example, peer pressure to steal, and temptations to steal such as unsupervised access to cash and valuable merchandise (Jones, Arnold & Harris, 1990).

Integrity testing should also be considered when identifying the necessary work-related characteristics, as part of the overall job analysis. Job analysis is defined as the purposeful, systematic process for collecting information on important work–related aspects (Gatewood, Feild, & Barrick, 2016). Structured interviews follow a systematic approach where employees are interviewed accurately and consistently. It provides the standardization that is currently absent from this process by ensuring that interviewees are asked the same questions in the same order. Those responses are recorded, compared and evaluated against standard criteria; the interview process remains the same even if the interviewer changes (Markovska, 2018).

This standardization is needed to ensure that the company does not violate any Equal Opportunity or discrimination laws. Also, a review of the Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) would be indicated to ensure compliance. It should also be noted that the use of integrity tests does not violate U.S. employment laws. Since they neither create adverse impact on protected groups nor violate provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (Sturman & Sherwyn, 2007). It should be noted that it is Sleep Tight Inn’s responsibility to ensure that all aspects of its selection process, not just integrity testing, comply with ADA and other federal/state laws. This can be validated and verified by maintaining summary data of external job offers and hires, promotions, resignations, terminations, and layoffs by job group, gender, and minority group identification (SHRM.org ,2017).

One aspect of ensuring integrity in this process, that is not a typical use of the term integrity testing is ensuring compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. While it does not meet the strict definition of integrity testing, ensuring that an applicant can legally be hired, is a form of integrity testing. Ensuring that all employees are authorized to work in the United States is necessary to avoid violating the IRCA. Requiring any prospective employee to prove that they can legally be employed is an outward indicator of their sense of intrinsic integrity.

It is important to reiterate that when formalizing the selection process and integrating integrity testing that legal defensibility has to be a planning factor. Any, and all, testing needs to be relevant to the position that the individual is being considered for and should not be designed as a selective screening tool. A minimum performance standard or expectation, specifically related to the requirements of the job has to be established. Specifically, Sleep Tight Inn needs to ensure that any test or selection procedure is be job-related and its results appropriate for the employer’s purpose. Ensuring that the testing conforms to the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures can help ensure that the testing is not only appropriate, but is legally defensible should an applicant decide to challenge the process (EEOC.gov, 2010).

Integrity testing has seen steady growth in both practice and research throughout the past two decades, with increased evidence regarding the usefulness of integrity testing for screening out job applicants with risks towards future involvement in counterproductive work behavior (CWB). It should be noted, however, that CWB does not merely refer to criminal misconduct. CWB is considered to include a wide range of inappropriate and/or undesirable work behaviors that may target an organization, such as drug use, sabotage, absenteeism, and negligence. CWB, also encompasses actions towards other employees, or management. Actions that include, on-the-job harassment, and all forms of discrimination identified in the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. It should also be noted that these behaviors are prevalent, with the great majority of U.S. employees reportedly having engaged in some form of CWB, roughly one third admitting to having stolen from their employers. Considering the damages that may be caused by CWB, which have been valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually, organizations clearly have a strong interest to reduce the extent of CWBs (Fine, Nevo, & Hemi, 2012). To help mitigate any potential CWBs occurring on the Sleep Tight Inn property, behavioral and situational testing can be a useful adjunct to integrity testing.

Another useful adjunct that should be mentioned is the reference check. Reference checking is an objective evaluation of an applicant’s past job performance based on information collected from key individuals, such as previous supervisors or co-workers, who have known and worked with the applicant. Reference checking is primarily used to:

Verify the accuracy of information given by job applicants through other selection processes, i.e. résumés, occupational questionnaires, interviews

Predict the success of job applicants by comparing their experience to the competencies required by the job

Uncover background information on applicants that may not have been identified by other selection procedures (OPM.gov, n.d.)

Job applicants may attempt to enhance their chances of obtaining a job offer by embellishing their training or work history. While résumés summarize what applicants claim to have accomplished, reference checking is meant to assess how well those claims are backed up by others. Verifying critical employment information can significantly cut down on selection errors. Information provided by former peers, direct reports, and supervisors can also be used to forecast how applicants will perform in the job being filled. Reference data used in this way is based on the behavioral consistency principle that past performance is a good predictor of future performance (OPM.gov, n.d.). As previously stated reference checking is an adjunct form of integrity testing within the overall selection process. Validating that an applicant is honest and forthcoming on their application, is a positive behavioral indicator of how they would perform if hired.

All of the formal selection program elements discussed to this point need to be used in combination to ensure not only the integrity of the applicant, but also the process. Extensive research has been done on the ability of various hiring methods and measures to actually predict job performance. A hiring process that relies primarily on interviews, reference checks, and personality tests, is significantly less effective than it could be if more effective measures were incorporated. For example, the strongest personality assessments to use in a hiring context are ones that possess these attributes:

Measure stable traits that will not tend to change once the candidate has been on the job for some length of time.

Are normative in nature, which allows you to compare one candidate’s scores against

Have high reliability (including test-retest reliability) and have been shown to be valid predictors of job performance.

Even when using a tool that meets the criteria outlined above, personality constructs are not the most predictive measure available. Personality tests are most effective when combined with other measures with higher predictive validity, such as integrity or cognitive ability. Using well-validated, highly predictive assessment tools in combination can give management a reliable indication of who will become a top performer for the organization (Martin, 2017).

Way Ahead

The way-ahead for Sleep Tight Inn is to formalize its selection process building upon the foundational aspect of integrity testing. Integrity has been a repeated theme of this recommendation and rightfully so. Guests of Sleep Tight Inn and resorts have to rely on the honesty and integrity of the employees of the resort. While, like most hospitality vendors, there are in-room safes for the safeguarding of valuables, guests want to feel safe and welcome. The welcome aspect of customer service is a by-product of the selection process. Selecting applicants who have demonstrated the traits needed to provide superior customer service helps ensure that guests are treated with courtesy and respect. But, it is the safety of the guests, their property and by extension the property of the resort that is foundational to this premise.

Hotels and resorts rely on their reputation to remain economically viable. A rash of staff initiated thefts of guest property and valuables will have a negative impact on Sleep Tight Inn’s reputation. This will lead to a decrease in room booking rates and adversely impact the company’s bottom line. This is why integrity testing has to be foundational to the selection process and integrated into all aspects of the process. A formalized selection process eliminates variability between department managers who may rely on intuition when making a hiring decision, as opposed to objective measures. The research is clear that using intuition do not always assist in making the best decisions and, for a business person, bringing in the most profit. Scholars call intuition a troublesome decision tool that requires adjustments to function properly. Such reliance on intuition can also be especially harmful to workplace diversity and paves the path to bias in hiring, including in terms of race, disability, and gender. Numerous studies show that structured interventions are needed to overcome bias in hiring (Tsipursky, 2017). Eliminating bias in the selection process will also help avoid claims of discrimination in any of its forms against the company. This is a necessity in the United States, as it has become a very litigious country.

It is clear that background checks have many limitations associated with them. Given the damage that a dishonest employee can cause for an organization, the use of honesty and integrity testing is an appropriate additional measure that should be used as part of the selection process. While there are individuals and organizations with concerns associated with the use of such testing, if done properly, there is no legal reason to exclude these tests. In fact, it is expected that these tests will be very beneficial as part of the selection process as they are expected to identify applicants who are likely to engage in behavior that is counterproductive to the organization. Given the time, expense, and importance associated with the hiring process, it is strongly recommended that organizations consider the use of honesty and integrity tests to help them hire the “right” individuals and avoid hiring the “wrong” ones (Brody, Perri, & Buren, 2015).

One of the fundamental questions that has yet to be answered is that of why is any these recommendations necessary? The short answer is to build trust and confidence at all levels of the organization. Integrity is the foundation of trust and upon that foundation can be built shared values and respect. Demonstrating trust towards applicants and employees alike helps build an organization that values integrity. When management demonstrates behavioral integrity, not situational integrity, then trust will grow and permeate throughout the company. It is this sense of trust that drives exemplary employee performance. But, there is another reason as to why integrity and integrity testing has to be an integral part of Sleep Tight Inn’s management and selection practices.

Sleep Tight Inn has a legal and ethical obligation to assess employee integrity. Legally, organizations face liability for the actions of their employees. Respondeat Superior (“let the master respond”) is a legal doctrine holding employers liable, in certain cases, for the wrongful acts of their employees. This doctrine has also been referred to as vicarious liability, whereby an employer is answerable for the torts committed by employees. Even though there has been no wrongful conduct on the part of the organization (Pozgar & Santucci, 2016). While ensuring that the selection process is fair and equitable, it is essential that the company act in its own best interests as well. This can be accomplished by the use of integrity testing to ensure that all employees, regardless of position, act in a manner consist with the ethical principles of the company.

Integrity tests are seen as a superior alternative to polygraph tests and interviews. In fact, the use of integrity tests in selection decisions has grown dramatically in the past decade. The tests are especially likely to be used where theft, safety, or malfeasance is an important concern. Such, as in the hospitality industry. The promise of integrity testing is that it will weed out those most prone to counterproductive work behaviors. Clearly, integrity is an important quality in applicants; integrity tests are designed to tap this important attribute (Heneman, Judge, & Kammeyer-Mueller, 2012).

 

References

Brody, R. G., Perri, F. S., & Buren, H. J. (2015). Further Beyond the Basic Background Check: Predicting Future Unethical Behavior. Business and Society Review,120(4), 549-576. doi:10.1111/basr.12074

EEOC.gov. (2010, September 23). Employment Tests and Selection Procedures. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/factemployment_procedures.html

Fine, S., Nevo, B., & Hemi, M. (2012). Pre-Employment Integrity Testing in Israel: A Validation Study. Journal of Organizational Psychology,12(1), 79-92. doi:10.1037/e518362013-727

Fried, B., & Fottler, M. D. (Eds.). (2014). Fundamentals of human resources in healthcare. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/ ZTkwMHh3d1 9fMzYzNjcyX19BTg2?sid=7fad0d5b-2d58-4300-863f-e6ac97747b33@sdc-v-sessmgr01&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1

Gatewood, R. D., Feild, H. S., & Barrick, M. R. (2016). Human resource selection. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Heneman, H. G., Judge, T., & Kammeyer-Mueller, J. D. (2012). Staffing organizations (7th ed.). Middleton, WI: Mendota House.

Jones, J., Arnold, D., & Harris, W. (1990). Introduction to the Model Guidelines for Preemployment Integrity Testing. Journal of Business and Psychology, 4(4), 525-532. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25092257

Markovska, M. (2018, January 17). The 3 Job Analysis Methods Every HR Professional Needs To Know. Retrieved from https://blog.careerminds.com/job-analysis-methods

Martin, W. (2017, December 06). The Problem with Using Personality Tests for Hiring. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/08/the-problem-with-using-personality-tests-for-hiring

OPM.gov. (n.d.). Assessment & Selection Other Assessment Methods. Retrieved from https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/assessment-and-selection/other-assessment-methods/reference-checking/

Pozgar, G. D., & Santucci, N. M. (2016). Legal aspects of health care administration (12th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Shrm.org. (2017, October 23). Affirmative Action: Internal AAP Checklist. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-forms/pages/ affirmativeaction_internalaapchecklist.aspx

Sturman, M. C., & Sherwyn, D. (2007). The Truth About Integrity Tests: The Validity and Utility of Integrity Testing for the Hospitality Industry. Cornell Hospitality Report,7(15). Retrieved from https://scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1128 &context=chrpub

Tsipursky, G. (2017, April 05). Should you trust your gut in hiring? Think again. | Ladders. Retrieved from https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/intuition-bias-hiring

 

Integrity of Probiotic Biotherapy

Abstract
Milk contains high amounts of lactose and protein which are utilized by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) for growth. LAB also ferment milk to produce products such as yoghurt and probiotic health drinks. In this experiment, we used the dilution method to enumerate the number of bacteria in yoghurt, a probiotic liquid and a probiotic capsule to compare the number of bacteria claimed by the manufacturer. The results obtained from the yoghurt and probiotic capsule and probiotic liquid dilution substantiated the manufacturers claim regarding bacterial numbers. Creation of functional foods containing sufficient consumed probiotic contents has been difficult, as processing and storage issues can affect microorganism viability. Challenges exist concerning predatory market positioning of probiotics and claims made by some probiotic manufacturers.
Abbreviations used in this paper: CFU, colony-forming units; EFSA, European Food Safety Authority; FDA, Food and Drug Administration, Food and Agriculture Organization; FAO, World Health Organization; WHO. GIT, gastro-intestinal tract. GRAS, generally regarded as safe
Introduction
In 2013, the global probiotic market was worth US$36 billion (de Simone 2019; Tripathi & Giri 2014).
Probiotics are defined as live microbial food supplements which beneficially affect the host, either directly or indirectly by improving its intestinal microbial balance and increase the resistance against pathogen invasion. The alterations and improvements are mainly in the colon, which harbors a rich flora of more than five hundred different bacterial species (1014 organisms), with a variety of health functions. It is thought that probiotic organisms can correct imbalance between the beneficial and harmful actions. Lab book
Milk fermentation began in 2500 BC and was originally used as preservation (Sarao & Arora 2017).
Circa 1900, Nobel laureate Elie Metchnikoff advanced the concept of probiotics after the discovery that ingestion of fermented milk products by Bulgarian peasants conferred a health benefit to the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) (Tripathi & Giri 2014).
Subsequently, it was found that fermenting milk can improve the bioavailability of its nutrients and additionally, that the lactic acid produced by Streptococcus, Lactococcus and Lactobacillus spp. during fermentation has an antimicrobial effect, thus sustaining a healthy balance of GIT microbiota (Rahmawati & Suntornsuk 2016).
Probiotic food should contain the required minimum viable microorganism count –  ≥105 CFU/gram at time of consumption and confer a health benefit to the host (including resistance to disease), when taken in adequate amounts. Depending on amount ingested and effects of storage, a daily intake of 10-8-10-9 probiotic microorganisms are required to create a probiotic benefit to the human organism (Tripathi & Giri 2014).
There are a number of qualities that define a quality non-pathogenic and non-toxic
probiotic. It must exhibit a beneficial effect on the host, for example disease resistance. Probiotics should contain a large number of viable cells and should be able to survive and metabolize in the GIT. Finally, probiotics must retain stability and capable of remaining viable for prolonged periods under storage conditions (Ray & Bhunia 2014).
LAB consist of a heterogeneous group of fermentative Gram-positive bacteria producing lactic acid. Status as GRAS. The fermentative and health promoting benefits claimed for lactic acid bacteria (LAB) make them essential to the food industry, having a diverse range of industrial applications (Temmerman, Huys & Swings, 2004). Although phylogenetically different to LAB, Bifidobacterium, Propionibacterium and Brevibacterium are also used in the food industry, as some strains of these taxa display LAB characteristics (Temmerman, Huys & Swings, 2004). Correct species identification is vital from a technological, ecological and safety point of view (Temmerman, Huys & Swings, 2004). Milk contains high amounts of lactose and protein which are utilised by microorganisms for growth. Bacteria can be used for fermentation of milk to produce products such as yoghurt and probiotic health drinks.
In this experiment, we used the dilution method to enumerate the actual number of bacteria in yoghurt, a probiotic liquid and a probiotic capsule to compare against the number of bacteria claimed by the manufacturer.
Fermentation of milk enhances its nutritional value through improved bioavailability of nutrients and production of substances which have a biological function. Fermented dairy products, are excellent sources of bioactive peptides. They provide numerous peptides with bioactive properties and form lactic acid and flavour compounds during fermentation and storage.
Bioactive peptides are short chains of amino acids that are produced during gastrointestinal digestion or food processing. These peptides have shown a wide range of biological activities such as anti-hypertension, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-angiotensin converting enzyme (anti-ACE) and anti-carcinogenic activities.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are commonly used to ferment milk into yoghurt and other fermented milk products. The types of LAB usually used in the dairy industries are thermophilic and mesophilic strains of Streptococcus, Lactococcus, and Lactobacillus species (6). During fermentation of milk, the cell wall associated proteinase of LAB hydrolyses caseins into large peptides, which are taken up into their cells, then broken down by intracellular peptidases, resulting in a range of bioactive peptides showing, for example hypertensive or angiotensin-I- converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory activity (Rhamawati.

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Yakult is a fermented dairy drink that contains probiotic cultures rather than yogurt cultures. The main difference between yogurt and probiotic cultures is that probiotics must have scientifically proven health benefits while yogurts do not. Another point of distinction is the type of cultures; probiotics are typically various species and strains of Lactobacilli or Bifidobacterium, while yogurt starter cultures are specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, according to the National Yogurt Association (Yakult website).
Aims
To isolate by serial dilution method and enumerate probiotic bacteria from natural yoghurt and two other commercially available probiotic samples for comparison of stated probiotic contents.
Materials and Methods
Study design
Bacterial strains and growth conditions
Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus reference strains used in this study were obtained from the German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures (DSMZ, Braunschweig, Germany).
Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains were grown in BSM broth (Bifidus Selective Medium, Sigma-Aldrich, St. Louis, MO, USA) and MRS broth (deMan, Rogosa and Sharpe Medium, Sigma-Aldrich) supplemented with 5 g L−1 cysteine respectively. The strains were grown at 37 ◦C for 48 h.
Lactobacillus
The probiotic LGG works by making resident gut bacteria produce anti-inflammatory products. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), one of the most common probiotics available, can improve a variety of digestive disorders, psychiatric disorders, and atopic dermatitis in infants and children (Rewrite with reference).
Bifidobacteria
Both genera are found in the normal intestinal flora of healthy human adults. Adherence is believed necessary for adequate, long term colonization of the gut. Evidence for true colonization and continued excretion without continued ingestion is lacking (Rewrite with reference).
Data and sample collection
Isolates used in the study were collected from various commercial sources. Each product had a slightly different isolation procedure and bacterial composition (see table 1 for examples) and different dilutions were selected for plating out, dependent on the expected final counts.
Table 1: Commonly used species of lactic acid bacteria in probiotic preparations

Bacterial genera

Species

Lactobacillus sp.

L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. delbrueckii ssp.,

 

L. cellobiosus, L. curvatus, L. fermentum, L. lactis,
L. plantarum, L. reuteri, L. brevis,  

Bifidobacterium sp.

B. bifidum, B. adolescentis, B. animalis, B. infantis

 

B. thermophilum, B. longum

Enterococcus sp.

Ent. faecalis, Ent. faecium

Streptococcus sp.

S. diacetylactis, S. intermedius

Adapted from Tripathi & Giri 2014.
Lactic acid bacteria in yoghurt
A sample of Jalna ‘ Bio-Live’ Organic Biodynamic Whole Milk Yoghurt (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium & Lactobacillus casei >300,000,000 probiotic count)
(9.83g) was aseptically transferred into a tube and homogenized in the Griffin Shaker for 5 min with sterile deionised water and made up to a final volume of 40mL. The sample was then serially diluted with the same diluent. Aliquots (100µL) of 10-2 through to 10-4 dilutions were spread onto separate MRS agar plates which were then incubated at 37ᴼC. Plates containing 30 to 300 colonies were used to determine CFU/gram.
Lactic acid bacteria in probiotics (capsule)
The content of one capsule of Inner Health Plus probiotic (Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM) 12.5 billion, Bifidobacterium lactis (Bi-07) 12.5 billion, Bovine colostrum powder 67mg) was rehydrated (15 min) in sterile deionized water (final volume of 10mL) and then vortexed. The sample was serially diluted with the same diluent. Aliquots (100µL) of 10-6 through to 10-8 dilutions were spread onto separate MRS agar plates which were then incubated at 37ᴼC. Plates containing 30 to 300 colonies were used to determine CFU/ capsule. 
Lactic acid bacteria in probiotics (liquid vial)
Yakult probiotic (6.5 billion live Lactobacillus casei spp. shirota strain, Bifidobacterium breve spp. Yaku strain and small amounts of naturally-occurring milk sugar (lactose) per 65mL (1mL) was aseptically transferred into a tube containing sterile deionized water (9mL). The sample was then serially diluted with the same diluent. Aliquots (100µL) of 10-4 through to 10-6 dilutions were spread onto separate MRS agar plates which were then incubated at 37ᴼC. Plates containing 30 to 300 colonies were used to determine CFU/ per vial.
Results
The results obtained for the yoghurt were within the reference range provided by the manufacturer. The Probiotic product 1 (capsule) results showed a slightly higher than stated CFU yield.  Whereas, results for probiotic product 2 showed a far higher than stated CFU/g value than claimed by the manufacturer (Table 2).
Table 2: Number of bacteria claimed compared to number of bacteria in samples
 

Product

Number of bacteria claimed (CFU)

Actual number of bacteria in sample (CFU)

yoghurt (per 1g)

> 3 x 103/ 100g

5.12 x 105/100g

probiotic product 1 (per capsule)

12.5 x 109/ capsule

11.2 x 109/capsule

probiotic product 2 (per vial)

6.5 x 109/ 65mL

71.5 x 109/ 65 mL

Figure 1: CFU grown on MRS agar after 24hrs incubation at 37ᴼC for 48 hrs. Yoghurt sample (10-2 dilution) and Probiotic product 2 sample (10-6 dilution).
Discussion
In this practical, we compared the actual number of bacteria against the claimed number of bacteria in fermented milk products. The actual number of bacteria in the yoghurt sample and Probiotic product 2 could not be obtained due to the colonies being too numerous to count. However, not a negative result as the results do indicate the abundance of viable cells which may be cultured in these products. The experiment would need to be repeated with either a shorter incubation time or greater dilution to procure results.
The results for Probiotic product 1 indicate the actual number of bacteria in the sample is within an allowable range compared to the claimed amount by the manufacturer. The product is also 109 CFU/gram, which would confer a health benefit to the host if taken in adequate amounts.
Results from the bacterial colonies from the serial dilution of yoghurt and probiotic capsule were too numerous to count and would need to be repeated to ascertain reportable results. However, the results obtained from the Yakult dilution substantiated the manufacturers claimed number of bacteria.
The clinically proven health benefits of viable lactic acid bacteria include, balance of the intestinal microbiota via antimicrobial activity, a reduction of lactose intolerance and food allergies and an enhancement of immune cells (Sarao & Arora 2017). 
A study conducted on two groups, a placebo group and a Yakult group, of Japanese women showed that the Yakult group had enhanced keratinocyte differentiation and less drying of the stratum corneum compared to the placebo group (Kano et al 2013). This was thought to be due to the lower pH caused by the lactic acid bacteria which gave rise to lower serum phenol levels (Kano et al 2013).
Further testing on species by molecular methods and careful attention to safety aspects in all facets of the production, packaging and labelling of probiotics can only improve the current uncertainty regarding manufacturers stated product health benefits, especially with regard to probiotics used as treatment in established medical conditions.
Consumers of probiotics should be aware that not all of the health benefits claimed by manufacturers have been scientifically proven and that information regarding health benefits of probiotics must be obtained through clinical and independent scientific research (de Simone 2019).
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