Fermented Dairy Products and Health

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Humans around the globe have ingested fermented milk products (FMP) for nutrition and good health for a very long time. Since 1966, FMP consumption has been chronicled, by the International Dairy Federation (IDF). During the last 10 years, the global annual per capita consumption of FMP has increased according to the 29 participating members (IDF, 1989) (Table 1). In the US during the last 18 years, the per capita sales of yoghurt have increased steeply from 0.6 kg to 1.9 kg while the per capita sales of buttermilk have declined from 2.4 kg to F8 kg (Fig. 1). More recently, however, per capita sales of yoghurt declined by 8.7% and of buttermilk by 4.9% between 1988 and 1989. Nevertheless, the overall consumption of FMP has expanded over the last decade. Yoghurt consumption has escalated significantly, presumably because of its perceived health benefits. The processing technology has undergone considerable modifications as consumers are demanding a variety of yoghurts. Further, yoghurt with a characteristic sour taste has been transformed into a wholesome and natural food with the addition of sweeteners and fruit preparations. Additionally, in some parts of the world yoghurt is being pasteurised to enhance its shelf-life with concomitant destruction of lactic acid bacteria (LAB).