Several products have sprung up recently claiming that they can prevent the worst next-day effects of drinking, but ZBiotics Company’s is the first to utilize genetically modified probiotics to help with hangover symptoms.
Launched on Aug. 15, ZBiotics claims its beverage — which the company proudly touts is derived from GMOs — mimics an enzyme in your liver that breaks down acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol consumption that in part causes hangovers. Taken either before or during your drinking session, ZBiotics replicates this liver enzyme in your gut.
“It’s meant to support your body while drinking,” Zack Abbott, Zbiotics’ co-founder and CEO and a Ph.D. microbiologist, told The Spoon Friday. But, he warned, “it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card.” Meaning, you still have to hydrate and get a good night’s rest to stave off a hangover (until there’s hangover-free booze, that is).
ZBiotics recently debuted in brick-and-mortar stores via b8ta. The beverage will be found in the San Francisco, New York City and Chicago locations, and eventually a pop-up store in Miami opening in December. Abbott said that the store’s format, which presents information on the products on tablets that can be changed by companies in real time, “is a great opportunity” for ZBiotics to tell its story.
“The challenge for our product is it’s in a field where there’s a lot of snake oil,” he said. “The category has credibility issues. [With ZBiotics,] there’s a level of technology that hasn’t been brought to this part of the market.”
That tech, genetic modification, has its share of skeptics. But Abbott hopes that ZBiotics, a 3.5-year-old Y Combinator graduate that has raised $3.4 million in funding, will help create more GMO supporters.
“The problem has been that most people are only hearing one side of the story,” he said. “People walk down the aisle of the grocery store and see this ‘No GMOs’ label. So what are people to think? Our goal is to provide more information and be transparent. That’s the foundation of what we call GMO 2.0. We use the technology responsibly. We test our product and publish our results. We think consumers will be excited by the opportunities that GMOs provide.”
With Impossible Foods, which is made with genetically modified heme, becoming popular, Abbott is right in that perceptions seem to be changing. And if GMOs can prevent people from feeling miserable after a night of drinking, they may change even sooner.