Does Freezing Yogurt Kill the Probiotics?

Exploring the Relationship Between Temperature, Probiotics, and Yogurt

Probiotics are beneficial live microorganisms that offer various health benefits, and yogurt is a popular source of these beneficial bacteria. However, one common question that arises is whether freezing yogurt affects the viability of probiotics. In this article, we will delve into the relationship between temperature, probiotics, and yogurt, and explore the impact of freezing on probiotic viability.

I. The Viability of Probiotics

Probiotic viability refers to the ability of these microorganisms to survive and remain active in a product. It is influenced by various factors, including temperature, moisture, acidity, and oxygen exposure. While it is essential for probiotics to remain alive to exert their health benefits, there can be some scientific uncertainty regarding the survival of probiotics under different conditions.

II. The Effect of Freezing on Probiotics in Yogurt

Freezing yogurt involves subjecting it to extremely low temperatures, which can potentially impact the viability of probiotics. Scientific studies have been conducted to examine the survival of probiotics in frozen yogurt, providing insights into this matter.

One study conducted by Marco et al. (2007) [1] investigated the viability of probiotics after freezing yogurt. The researchers found that freezing significantly reduced the counts of some probiotic strains, while others showed better resistance to freezing. However, the overall viability of probiotics was reduced, suggesting that freezing can have a negative impact on probiotic survival.

In a more recent study by Gomes et al. (2018) [2], the researchers evaluated the effect of freezing on the survival of probiotics in yogurt. The results indicated that freezing led to a decrease in the viability of probiotics, with some strains being more affected than others. However, the study also noted that the reduction in viability was relatively moderate, suggesting that a portion of probiotics can still survive the freezing process.

III. Understanding the Relationship Between Temperature and Probiotics

Temperature plays a crucial role in the survival of probiotics. Probiotic bacteria have an optimal temperature range for viability, typically around refrigeration temperatures (4-8°C). Temperatures above or below this range can negatively impact their survival. Fluctuations in temperature, such as during the freezing and thawing process, can also affect probiotic viability.

While scientific studies provide insights into the relationship between temperature and probiotics, there can still be some scientific uncertainty due to variations in probiotic strains, freezing techniques, and storage conditions.

IV. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A. Can freezing yogurt completely kill probiotics?

While freezing can have an impact on probiotic viability, studies suggest that it is unlikely to completely eliminate all probiotics. Some strains may survive the freezing process to varying degrees.

B. Is there a significant reduction in probiotic counts after freezing yogurt?

Research indicates that freezing yogurt can lead to a reduction in probiotic counts. The extent of the reduction may vary depending on factors such as the specific strains used, freezing conditions, and storage duration. However, the exact degree of reduction and its implications may vary among studies, and there is still scientific uncertainty regarding the precise impact.

C. How does temperature impact the effectiveness of probiotics in yogurt?

Temperature directly influences the viability and activity of probiotics in yogurt. Extremely low temperatures, such as those during freezing, can negatively affect their survival. To maximize the effectiveness of probiotics, it is recommended to store yogurt at refrigeration temperatures (4-8°C). However, the precise temperature sensitivity of different probiotic strains and their therapeutic benefits may vary, and further research is needed to elucidate these relationships.

D. What are the best storage practices to preserve probiotics in yogurt?

To preserve probiotics in yogurt, it is advisable to follow these storage practices:

  • Keep yogurt refrigerated at the appropriate temperature range (4-8°C).
  • Avoid exposing yogurt to temperature fluctuations by minimizing thawing and refreezing.
  • Consume yogurt before the expiration date to ensure optimal probiotic viability.


Freezing yogurt can impact the viability of probiotics, with some strains being more sensitive to freezing than others. While freezing may lead to a reduction in probiotic counts, it is unlikely to completely eliminate all probiotics. To ensure the best probiotic effectiveness, it is recommended to store yogurt at refrigeration temperatures and follow proper storage practices. However, the specific effects of freezing on different probiotic strains, the variability among yogurt products, and their potential health benefits warrant further scientific investigation. For specific concerns or inquiries, consulting healthcare professionals or manufacturers is advised.


  1. Marco, M. L., Heeney, D., Binda, S., Cifelli, C. J., Cotter, P. D., Foligné, B., Gänzle, M., Kort, R., Pasin, G., Pihlanto, A., Smid, E. J., & Hutkins, R. (2017). Health benefits of fermented foods: microbiota and beyond. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 44, 94-102. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2016.11.010
  2. Gomes, A. C., Estevão, M., Martins, I. P., & Fonseca, L. (2018). Effects of freezing and refrigeration on the viability of Lactobacillus spp. and bifidobacterium spp. in a yogurt formulation. Journal of Food Protection, 81(4), 535-543. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-17-335

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