Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Microbiology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 11, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Lactic acid bacteria are essential in the industrial production of a large variety of cheeses and fermented fluid dairy foods, bakery products, fermented sausages, and also play important roles in silage fermentation. During fermentation, lactic acid bacteria produce flavor compounds and enzymes to alter the properties of proteins and other biopolymers that impart characteristic properties to fermented foods. This important group of microbes includes lactococci, lactobacilli, streptococci, leuconostocs and pediococci, which are used in defined ratios in culture blends, depending on the desired physical and flavor properties of the fermented food product. Newer research has shown that selected lactic cultures have beneficial effects on human and animal health and some may be used to carry vaccines. Biotechnology research is under way to improve the traditional functions of lactic cultures and to provide these cultures with novel characteristics. This effort is expected to open up new opportunities for the food and non-food applications of this group of microbes.