Food Interactions and Probiotics

There are several basic requirements for the development of marketable probiotic products. The most basic requirement is that the probiotic bacteria survive manufacturing and storage in sufficient number in the product so that they are viable when consumed. Additionally, the probiotic of choice should not have an adverse effect on the sensory properties of the food product. The chemical composition of the food product will also be important in determining the metabolic activity of the probiotic and how successfully it will survive. The amount and type of carbohydrate available, the degree of hydrolysis of milk proteins (amino acid content), and the composition and availability of short-chain fatty acids will be essential variables in developing a probiotic semisolid dairy food.

The interaction between the probiotic organisms and the starter organisms is another important factor to consider in the production of semisolid fermented dairy foods. Both synergistic and antagonistic effects between organisms are known to exist. This will require the identification of specific strains of probiotics that work in synergy with the starter organisms to achieve efficient acidification and multiplication of organisms during the fermentation process. Antagonistic effects that cause the production of undesirable compounds such as hydrogen peroxide, benzoic acid, and bigenic amines have been investigated and can be a limiting factor for combinations of starters and probiotics (38).

A critical factor in the development of probiotic dairy foods is the manufacturing procedure. When the probiotic is added following fermentation and before or after cooling, the interactions are kept to a minimum. The metabolic activity of both the starter organisms and the probiotic is drastically reduced at this point and will dramatically reduce interactions. It is critical to maintain cold storage of the product without fluctuations in temperature to maintain the quality of the finished product (38).

Another factor of considerable importance is the physiological state of the probiotic. When the probiotic culture is harvested, whether it is in the logarithmic or stationary phase of growth, and how it is handled after harvesting will be critical to the successful addition to a food product. Bacteria from the logarithmic phase have been shown to be much more susceptible to environmental stresses. Environmental conditions that signal to the bacteria the transition from the logarithmic phase to the stationary phase will have an effect on survival during the stationary phase.

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