Applications for functional dairy starter cultures
Bacteria starter cultures are large numbers of cells of microorganisms that are used to initiate a fermentation process in certain foods such as cheese, yogurt, butter, sourdough, and fermented meats. Certain bacterial strains can be selected or genetically modified to exhibit functional properties that enhance the foods they help produce. For instance, specific strains of bacteria can be used to combat the growth of Listeria monocytogenes and other pathogenic microbes. Maisnier-Patin et al demonstrated that starter cultures containing nisin-producing subspecies of Lactococcus lactis were able to control growth of Listeria monocytogenes while maintaining suitable pH for Camembert cheese development. This may have importance in raw milk cheese production. Consumers often prefer the interesting flavors offered by these cheeses but have concerns about the health risks of consuming raw milk products. Additional types of functional bacteria starters have the potential to improve the sensory qualities of cheese. Guldfeldt et al used genetically modified strains of Lactococcus lactis to improve flavor and reduce bitterness in Cheddar cheese. Other functional starters have been used to speed up the maturation process of cheese aging and to prevent overacidification in yogurt. Functional starter cultures offer the opportunity to produce wholesome, safe products with enhanced sensory properties and probiotic qualities desired by consumers.
Keywords: functional starter culture, cheese