The objective of the current proposal is to develop new bioactive dairy products and enhance the quality and safety of traditional dairy products by suitable management of their microbial ecology.
Τo achieve this, the formulation of a highly competitive and desirable predominant microbiota of ‘specific composition’ for the studied products and subsequently the addition of new indigenous ‘Greek’ lactic acid bacteria with explicit technological, bioprotective and/or probiotic properties will be investigated.
The proposed research is based on the corporation of two milk processing companies located in Epirus (SKARFI EPE) and Thessaly (Hellenic Dairies S.A.) regions and three public research organizations which account many years of experience in the implementation and management of research projects (ITAP, AUA, UOI). The main aims of the project are:
Improvement of the traditional dairy products’ overall quality by: extension of shelf life, enhancement of organoleptic characteristics, improvement of hygiene/ safety level, standardization/ stabilization of the production process and reduction of product returns/recalls.
Development of novel fermented dairy products with traditional character and ‘distinctive’ organoleptic properties, supporting the innovative production along with the ‘nationality’ and authenticity of the product, company and/ or area of production.
Development of novel bio-functional dairy products with desirable organoleptic characteristics, increased shelf life and safety and high added value due to the dominance of an ‘active’ lactic acid bacteria with known bio-protection properties in situ and probiotic properties in vitro.
Initially, a variety of indigenous lactic acid strains will be explored at phenotypic, biochemical, molecular and proteomic level and research will be carried out for the development of novel specific lactic cultures.
These novel indigenous lactic acid bacteria cultures will be isolated from different sources like: high quality milk, whey, fresh curd of cheese and/ or final cheese products produced by the involved companies.
Consequently, the novel lactic acid bacteria cultures will be applied on industrial scale at selected products of each company. More specifically, at fermented dairy products, i.e. traditional cheeses fully or partly matured, acid coagulated fresh cheeses, the novel cultures will act mainly as starters and/or as adjunct cultures while acting in situ as bio-protective cultures. These cultures may have in vitro probiotic properties, requiring in vivo clinical studies in the future. Target products of this proposal are Feta and White Brine cheeses produced by Hellenic Dairies-TYRAS and acid coagulated fresh cheeses (i.e. Galotyri, Tsalafouti) produced by SKARFI. Simultaneously, Anthotyros, a fresh whey cheese produced by SKARFI will be studied exploring in parallel the microbial spoilage and potential microbial hazards associated with the product. The novel cultures are expected to be able to postpone spoilage, eliminate or inactivate the growth of L. monocytogenes and other pathogens that might be present due to cross contamination. In addition, the new cultures could confer increased biofunctional/ probiotic properties at the novel product.
The main innovation of this proposal, lies in the fact that the novel lactic bio-functional and/ or probiotic cultures that will arise as intermediate deliverables of the project, will include competitive lactic acid strains with excellent adaptation, resistance and long-term survival in the food environment which will be applied. These food products constitute the final deliverables of this project from each of the involved companies.