Author(s): Holzapfel WH
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Abstract Modern food biotechnology has moved a long way since ancient times of empirical food fermentations. Preservation and safeguarding of food are, however, still major objectives of fermentation. In addition, other aspects, such as wholesomeness, acceptability and overall quality, have become increasingly important and valued features to consumers even in developing countries where old traditions and cultural particularities in food fermentations are generally well maintained. Due to limitations in infrastructure and existing low technologies, rural areas in most developing countries have not been able to keep abreast of global developments toward industrialisation. At the same time, fermented foods play a major role in the diet of numerous regions in Africa and Asia. In many traditional approaches, the advantages of some form of inoculation of a new batch, e.g. by back-slopping or the repeated use of the same container (e.g. a calabash) is appreciated and generally practised. Still, the benefits of small-scale starter culture application as a means of improved hygiene, safety and quality control, in support of HACCP approaches, are not yet realised in small-scale fermentation operations. Approaches and considerations for the selection of pure cultures for small-scale, low-tech applications may differ in some respects from the large-scale industrial approaches practised since 100 years. Selection criteria should take account of the substrate, technical properties of the strain, food safety requirements and quality expectations. Lack of experience in the application of starter cultures in small-scale operations and under rural conditions presents a major obstacle but also an exciting challenge to food microbiologist and technologist. Culture preservation, maintenance and distribution demand special logistic and economic considerations. Quality, safety and acceptability of traditional fermented foods may be significantly improved through the use of starter cultures selected on the basis of multifunctional considerations, also taking into account the probiotic concept and possibilities offered for improved health benefits.
This article was published in Int J Food Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Food Processing & Technology