Am J Clin Nutr 2001 02;73(2 Suppl):374S-379S
Institute of Microbiology, Federal Dairy Research Center, Kiel, Germany.
Probiotic bacteria are sold mainly in fermented foods, and dairy products play a predominant role as carriers of probiotics. These foods are well suited to promoting the positive health image of probiotics for several reasons: 1) fermented foods, and dairy products in particular, already have a positive health image; 2) consumers are familiar with the fact that fermented foods contain living microorganisms (bacteria); and 3) probiotics used as starter organisms combine the positive images of fermentation and probiotic cultures. When probiotics are added to fermented foods, several factors must be considered that may influence the ability of the probiotics to survive in the product and become active when entering the consumer's gastrointestinal tract. These factors include 1) the physiologic state of the probiotic organisms added (whether the cells are from the logarithmic or the stationary growth phase), 2) the physical conditions of product storage (eg, temperature), 3) the chemical composition of the product to which the probiotics are added (eg, acidity, available carbohydrate content, nitrogen sources, mineral content, water activity, and oxygen content), and 4) possible interactions of the probiotics with the starter cultures (eg, bacteriocin production, antagonism, and synergism). The interactions of probiotics with either the food matrix or the starter culture may be even more intensive when probiotics are used as a component of the starter culture. Some of these aspects are discussed in this article, with an emphasis on dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.