Technology Aspects Related to the Application of Functional Starter Cultures
Luc De Vuyst
Research Group of Industrial Microbiology, Fermentation Technology and Downstream Processing Department of Applied Biological Sciences Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Received January 18, 2000
Accepted April 3, 2000
lactic acid bacteria, starter cultures, probiotics, prebiotics, bacteriocins, exopolysaccharides
The market of pro- and prebiotics as applied in fermented milk drinks is expanding worldwide. More consumers become interested in the potential, health-promoting properties of functional foods. However, the industrial processors need to adapt their production processes and technologies, if they wish to use probiotics in a variety of food products. Indeed, the food matrix composition, the interaction(s) and stability of the culture, the inoculum level, the technological process conditions, etc. influence the viability of the probiotic bacteria considerably. In this paper some problems are discussed related to the application of probiotics in the dairy sector. In the food sectort there is a fast increasing request for 100 % natural products, not only from the point of view of the consumer but also from that of the authorities. Two examples are given in this paper: the use of natural food preservatives (antimicrobial proteins or bacteriocins) and the application of natural texturisers (microbial exopolysaccharides), both through the application of functional lactic acid bacterium starter cultures. Also, one has to take into account the influence of several factors of the food matrix and the applied process technology on the functionality of the strains used.