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Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Dec 1;88(2-3):215-22.

Functionality of enterococci in dairy products.

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Department of Microbiology and Enzymology, Istituto Sperimentale Lattiero Caseario, Via A Lombardo 11, I-26900 Lodi, Italy.


Enterococci have important implications in the dairy industry. They occur as nonstarter lactic acid bacteria (NSLAB) in a variety of cheeses, especially artisan cheeses produced in southern Europe from raw or pasteurised milk, and in natural milk or whey starter cultures. They play an acknowledged role in the development of sensory characteristics during ripening of many cheeses and have been also used as components of cheese starter cultures. The positive influence of enterococci on cheese seems due to specific biochemical traits such as lipolytic activity, citrate utilisation, and production of aromatic volatile compounds. Some enterococci of dairy origin have also been reported to produce bacteriocins (enterocins) inhibitory against food spoilage or pathogenic bacteria, such as Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholerae, Clostridium spp., and Bacillus spp. The technological application of enterocins, shown to be produced during cheese manufacture, led to propose enterococci as adjunct starter or protective cultures in cheeses. There is evidence that enterococci, either added as adjunct starters or present as nonstarter NSLAB, could find potential application in the processing of some fermented dairy products. Literature suggest that the complex biochemical and ecological phenomena explaining the technological functionality of the enterococci in dairy products, are still to be fully understood. Clearly, the clinical research on enterococci underlines also that the safety of dairy products containing enterococci is an issue that the industry must carefully address before proceeding to their application.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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