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Dr. Minoru Shirota

Yakult began with the ideals of Dr. Minoru Shirota more than 80 years ago. In the early days of his medical career, Dr. Shirota was deeply concerned about how Japan’s poor socio-economic conditions caused children to suffer from malnutrition that led to infectious diseases and other illnesses. He therefore decided to focus his efforts on preventive medicine and turned to the study of microorganisms.

In his research, he discovered that lactobacilli were beneficial in suppressing harmful bacteria in the human intestines and promoted good intestinal health.  In 1930, Dr. Shirota became the first in the world to succeed in biotechnologically strengthening and culturing a bacterial strain that could withstand the gastric juice and bile to reach the intestines alive. This unique probiotic strain was later named Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota in his honour.

As Dr. Shirota was determined to promote good health to as many people as possible through the benefits of probiotics, he incorporated his discovery, L. casei strain Shirota into a cultured milk drink and called it “Yakult”.

Yakult was then marketed in 1935 in Japan through a number of independent operators.  In 1955, Dr. Shirota and his colleagues founded Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. which is today the hub of Yakult’s worldwide operations. Yakult is presently sold and drank everyday by people in 33 countries and regions around the world.

From the perspective of preventive medicine, Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. has broadened its range of products from food and beverages to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Yakult is not only a pioneer of probiotics but has since become the world’s leader in this field. For more information on our parent company, Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., please visit www.yakult.co.jp/english/