Yeasts: present and FUNCTIONAL since ever!

Yeasts are single-cell microorganisms known and used by humans for over 5,000 years. Egyptians used yeasts to make bread and wine. They were once known for their magical powers, and Louis Pasteur unveiled part of their secrets. Today, yeasts are widely applied in animal nutrition as a source of proteins, peptides, free amino acids, nucleotides, B vitamins, and prebiotic and immunomodulatory compounds

In the pet food industry, yeasts are extensively used to enhance food palatability and can be added at different stages of food manufacturing. Moreover, they are safe for animals of all ages. The flavor enhancement effect is attributed to the yeasts’ free amino acid profile, intensifying and extending the pleasant flavor felt in the mouth, providing umami flavor.  

Inactive and dehydrated whole yeasts derived from sugarcane or brewery are most frequently flavor enhancers used in dog and cat food manufacturing and are added either before heat processing or by coating. Martins et al. (2013) showed that dogs prefer foods containing whole or autolyzed yeast to foods with no yeast inclusion. Moreover, yeasts have been used as alternatives to conventional protein sources in pet foods to balance their amino acid profile and to follow market trends such as plant-based, vegan, clean-label, sustainability, and others. 

Endogenous and exogenous enzymes break down yeasts, resulting in autolyzed and hydrolyzed yeast products, respectively. Autolyzed and hydrolyzed yeasts have high protein digestibility, have a balanced vitamins-B profile, and are rich in free amino acids, influencing food palatability. They are also a source of nucleotides, essential components for cell renewal and various metabolic processes, promoting animal health. Due to its unique free amino acid profile, Hicell, Biorigin’s autolyzed yeast product, ensures dog and cat food palatability. However, the functionality of such products depends on the production process applied by each company. 

Yeast-derived products are applied in the human food industry to enhance flavor and add specific flavor notes to different types of food. Fermentation, extraction, and purification processes yield products that mimic specific flavors, such as meat or chicken, or that allow salt and sugar reduction while preserving flavor, which is critical for the food industry. When it comes to biotechnology, the strain of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, its nutrition and environment (fermentation tanks) during the production process, as well as the complete control of the parameters of this process, are critical to the functionality and the final quality of the finished product. The consistency of those factors provides the product’s unique and standardized profile. 

Yeast-derived products are also widely used in the dog and cat food industry. Yeast cell walls are composed of an outer layer of mannan oligosaccharides, an inner layer of beta-1,3/1,6-glucans, and a small percentage of chitin. Mannan oligosaccharides are prebiotics that promote gut health because they are used as substrates by desirable intestinal microorganisms for their maintenance and metabolism. ActiveMOS is derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae primary fermentation, ensuring high cell wall compound availability and product functionality. Its mannan oligosaccharide layer is used as a substrate by gut microorganisms. Suitable microorganism-to-prebiotic ratios results in the production of postbiotics, out of which butyrate is highlighted. An essential feature of ActiveMOS is its ability to agglutinate non-beneficial bacteria, promoting a healthier gut environment. 

Purified beta-glucans are potent immune system modulators and contribute to glucose and lipid metabolism. When not submitted to purification, the beta-glucan layer remains protected by the mannan oligosaccharide layer, preventing their binding to gut immune cell receptors. Therefore, non-purified beta-glucans do not act as gut immunomodulators when added to pet food formulations.  

Biorigin’s MacroGard is recognized worldwide and has extensive scientific evidence of its effectiveness. The biotechnology applied to produce MacroGard provides it with high bioactive beta-1,3/1,6-glucan content while maintaining the original structure of the beta-glucan molecules, which is crucial for the recognition of MacroGard by the gut immune system.  

A recent study revealed an additional MacroGard function for dogs. Ferreira et al. (2022) showed the beneficial effect of MacroGard in obese dogs with insulin resistance. The study included 3 experimental groups: obese dogs with insulin resistance (n=7, BCS = 8 or 9); dogs with ideal body condition score (n=7, BCS=5); and the same group of obese dogs supplemented with MacroGard for 90 days. Basal glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels were reduced in obese dogs after 90 days of MacroGard intake. In addition, MacroGard-supplemented dogs showed lower TNF-α serum levels, indicating reduced inflammatory status associated with obesity and higher levels of GLP-1, a hormone related to satiety. MacroGard is heat-stable and, therefore, can be included in extruded and wet dog foods and snacks or offered to dogs in capsules.  

By applying biotechnology, selected yeast strains are cultivated in favorable environments, with adequate nutrition and strict food safety protocols to generate natural and safe products that meet the demands of the pet food market, which has become increasingly demanding. Biorigin’s mission is to promote the health and well-being of people and animals. That is why it invests in research to ensure the continuous improvement of its products. 


Martins et al. (2013). Brewer’s yeast and sugarcane yeast as protein sources for dogs. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. DOI: 10.1111/jpn.12145 

Ferreira et al., 2022. Metabolic variables of obese dogs with insulin resistance supplemented with yeast beta-glucan, BMC Veterinary Research, 2022, 

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