First there were drinks sent to fight nature’s ills with friendly bacteria and now there are straws lining up to join the battle against digestive imbalance. The probiotic LifeTop Straw, developed by Swedish BioGaia, is making its world debut with the Orchard Maid range of organic yoghurt drinks, brought to shelves first by Tesco.

BioGaia has patented the process for putting the probiotic L. reuteri into the LifeTop Straw. Tetra Pak will be the only packaging company to incorporate these straws on its aseptic packs, having struck a joint worldwide marketing deal with BioGaia.

The telescopic LifeTop Straw works by releasing active bacteria with each sip. Its properties are said to maintain the body’s natural immune system and balance the digestive system.

Orchard Maid has added a blueberry and blackcurrant variant to the strawberry and elderflower and cranberry and raspberry flavours of the range. It can be drunk with or without the straw giving consumers the choice of either a functional or conventional yoghurt drink. The retail price per 250ml pack is being kept at its current level of 99p.

“The great advantage of this new system,” says Jonathan Middlemiss, managing director of Orchard Maid, “is that it enables us to add an extra dimension to our product without having to reformulate it.”

Packed in the Tetra Prisma Aseptic 250ml octagonal shaped carton, the straw is attached to the back of the pack which carries information on its use and benefits. LifeTop has a 12-month shelf life.

It is possible for the LifeTop Straw to contain other probiotic ingredients, opening potential for a number of functional drink applications. Last year Tetra Pak established a global centre for nutritional products designed to offer integrated solutions for packaging and processing of functional beverages.