The benefits of using lactic acid bacteria in the food chain, both through direct consumption and production of ingredients, are increasingly recognised by the food industry and consumers alike. The regulatory environment surrounding these products is diverse, covering foods and food ingredients, processing aids, feed additives and dietary supplements. On a global basis, there are different approaches taken by the various regulatory authorities. While in Europe, the national legislation is gradually being harmonised, predominantly through the Novel Foods Regulation, there is still a wide disparity between the stringency of regulation of microbial products fed to animals and the comparatively relaxed approach to 'non-novel' microbial products intended for human consumption. In the United States, the onus is on self-regulation of the manufacturer, with the Generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS) and Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA) notification schemes encouraging industry to be more open about the ingredients they market. In Japan, the Foods for Special Health Use system continues to gain recognition as more products are approved, and is a potential model for other countries in regulating functional foods. Despite the different approaches to regulating these products, safety of microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria in the food chain is paramount in all countries. This paper discusses the regulatory requirements of microbial products, predominantly lactic acid bacteria within the global markets, focusing mainly on the developments in Europe.