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Fermented milks: a historical food with modern applications–a review


Background: This paper was presented at the symposium which was organized by Instituto Danone Mexico in May 2001, and it provides an overview of the current scientific knowledge on fermented milks concerning the historical developments, manufacturing stages, classification of such products, and nutritional aspects. Particular attention has been paid to the human health benefits associated with the consumption of these products, the use of probiotic starter cultures and their industrial applications, and the significance of using a trained sensory panel for the evaluation of probiotic fermented milks made with different commercial blends of starter cultures. The paper also highlights the future research areas for the exploitation of starter microflora (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus species) in fermented milk products.

Conclusion: This review indicates that the complex metabolism of the starter cultures is well established; however, more information is still needed on specific microbial metabolites such as polymerization of milk sugars for the production of exopolysaccharides and the modification of the milk peptides and secretion of bacteriocins. More clinical studies are still required to establish the ‘functional’ health benefits of probiotic fermented milks to humans.

Sponsorship: The visit to Mexico City was supported by Instituto Danone Mexico.

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Correspondence to AY Tamime.

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Tamime, A. Fermented milks: a historical food with modern applications–a review. Eur J Clin Nutr 56 (Suppl 4), S2–S15 (2002).

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