curious “fever prevention” broth
No visit to Japan would be complete without a blog about yakult. The little drink is as much an icon of the society as noodles, fish and slurping...
Yakult was developed by Dr Minoru Shirota in Kyoto, Japan in the 1930s. It is what is called a probiotic; containing "friendly bacteria" thought to counter the "dangerous bacteria" that can cause disease. There is much debate as to whether the bacteria in probiotic drinks actually survive the digestive system in order to provide any substantial benefit. This is not a time for scientific debate; this is a time to celebrate a cultural oddity...
bottles of yakult admire the view whilst on a date
some facts about Yakult:
- the company is called yakult honsha
- Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota is the highly concentrated bacteria found in the drink
- In Japan, yakult costs 370 yen for a 5 pack - approximately £4.92 per litre. In the UK it costs £5.91 per litre.
- they sell approximately 15m of the little bottles 23 countries annually
- Danone owns 19% of the company
- a hong kong paper published an article stating the yakult could help prevent SARS. panic buying ensued (yakult started selling approx. 1m bottles a day in HK and east asia) until the company was forced to announce that, whilst it will "keep you healthy and less prone to getting the virus", there was no studies to support the fact that yakult could actually prevent or cure SARS. note: whiskey and cigarettes were also rumoured to have beneficial effects on SARS
- in 1998 the chairman and vice-president resigned over losses of $800m due to speculative trading
- the company owns an appropriately named baseball team "yakult swallows"
- the brand is hailed by academics as a leading example of education marketing - building awareness through first-hand contact with consumers; sampling, seminars and trademarked packaging
- there is a direct to consumer distribution channel in japan (much like newspapers and milk in the west). this is called the "unique yakult ladies system of door-to-door distribution"
the "unique yakult ladies" work on a commission basis ~ they can earn upto £50k pa; good reason to smile
- yakult has been found to relieve ulcerative colitis, decrease risk of bowel and colon cancers, cut cholsterol levels. A Swedish study connected it to reduced risk of asthma and allergies in babies... they may also help elderly people as the levels of good bacteria decline with age...
- many western scientists call yakult a "novel food"; being unsupported by clinical trials. whatever about the longterm benefits, there is general agreement that yakult induces bowel movement... hmm.
recipe for "fever prevention":
to try and keep somewhat the food blog theme; yakult recommend a natural prevention for colds and fevers:
- 1 drop lemon juice
- 1 drop eucalyptus oil
- 1 drop tea tree oil
- hot water
mix in a bowl. place a towel over your head and inhale the vapours... good luck.