Bacteria Used in the Manufacture of Fermented Foods

Despite the diversity of bacteria involved directly or indirectly in the manufacture of fermented foods, all are currently classified in one of three phyla, the Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and the Actinobacteria. Within the Firmicutes are the lactic acid bacteria, a cluster of Grampositive bacteria that are the main organisms used in the manufacture of fermented foods.

This phylum also includes the genera Bacillus and Brevibacterium that contain species used in the manufacture of just a few selected fermented foods.

The Proteobacteria contains Gram negative bacteria that are involved in the vinegar fermentation, as well as in spoilage of wine and other alcoholic products. The Actinobacteria contains only a few genera relevant to fermented foods manufacture, and only in a rather indirect manner. These include Bifidobacteriim, Kocu-ria, Staphylococcus, and Micrococcus. In fact, Bifidobacterium do not actually serve a functional role in fermented foods; rather they are added for nutritional purposes (see below).

While species of Kocuria and the Staphylococcus/Micrococcus group are used in fermented foods, they are used for only one product, fermented meats, and for only one purpose, to impart the desired flavor and color. It is worth emphasizing that fermented foods may contain many other microorganisms, whose presence occurs as a result of inadvertent contamination. However, the section below describes only those bacteria whose contribution to fermented foods manufacture is known.

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