Microbiology Monographs Volume 21, 2011, pp 191-220

Carriers of Probiotic Microorganisms

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Abstract

There is a growing market potential for probiotic foods as an alternative to enhance human health. Milk-based products including milk beverage, yogurts, cheese and ice cream are conventionally used as the most suitable delivery vehicle for probiotics. Despite being an ideal substrate for probiotics, the growth of probiotics in these products is often inhibited due to excessive acidification, antagonistic effect of starter culture and the presence of oxygen during processing. Various means are evaluated to enhance the viability of probiotics, including supplementation with growth enhancer and protection by microencapsulation. The drawbacks of milk-based carrier associated with cholesterol contents and lactose intolerance have prompted the development of alternative carriers for probiotics. Currently, new foods such as soy-based products, cereal-based products, fruits, vegetables and meat products are developed as potential carriers. These nondairy-based products contain reasonable amounts of carbohydrates, fibers, proteins and vitamins that support the growth of probiotics. In addition, some components of these products are able to protect probiotics during transit through the harsh condition of gastrointestinal tract and during storage. However, growths in nondairy products such as sausage and fruit juices are inhibited by the presence of inhibitory substances such as nisin, organic acids and curing salts. Therefore, appropriate selection of culture used in these products is crucial in maintaining the viability of cells, without affecting the sensory and organoleptic property of the final products.