Girl eating yogurt with FreshQ

Chr. Hansen reaches scientific breakthrough in dairy bioprotection

For the first time Chr. Hansen scientists have revealed the main mechanism of lactic acid bacteria with bioprotective effect against yeasts and molds in dairy products. Competition for a specific nutrient is the key mechanism. Food cultures like FRESHQ® help protect fermented milk products from spoilage by taking up the nutrient manganese.

March 20, 2020

FRESHQ® food cultures are lactic acid bacteria (LAB) strains that have been specifically selected for their ability to help protect dairy products against spoilage caused by yeasts and molds, helping dairies around the world to reduce food waste and improve quality while catering to the consumer demand for food with less artificial ingredients. 

There has been increasing interest in understanding the underlying mechanisms used by LAB to delay the growth of spoilage organisms. Until now, most scientific activities have focused on trying to identify antimicrobial compounds produced by the food cultures. However, no scientific efforts so far have been able to identify compounds that could explain a considerable part of the inhibitory effect against the yeast and mold spoilage organisms. Therefore, it became apparent that other mechanisms play a major role, but until now the specific mechanism had not been elucidated. 

Competition for a specific nutrient

“What we have discovered and proved is the ability of our good bacteria in the FRESHQ® cultures to absorb a nutrient in fermented milk that yeast and mold need to grow. The nutrient is called manganese. Through a ‘transporter’ in the bacterial strains the nutrient is removed from the food matrix, preventing the unwanted contaminants to feed on it,” said Rute Neves, Director in Bacterial Physiology, Research & Development, Chr. Hansen and affiliated professor at DTU Bioengineering.

Starting in-house, the Chr. Hansen R&D team identified in the strains the transporter that absorbs manganese in a specific dairy food matrix. In cooperation with North Carolina State University in the USA, the mechanism was proven at genetic level. 

Manifesting leading role in the bioprotection segment

According to Peter Thoeysen, Director in Dairy Bioprotection, Chr. Hansen, the discovery is an important and game-changing chapter in Chr. Hansen’s bioprotection history. 

”For years, FRESHQ® has helped our customers build their brands, improve quality and reduce food waste while keeping up with market trends for real food with less artificial ingredients. Being able to describe exactly how they do this on a scientific level is helping us in the quest to help our customers with even better solutions for even more food types in the future.”

80% of yogurt waste happens because its use-by-date expires somewhere in the supply chain. FRESHQ® can help extend shelf life and thus lower food waste. “The fact that we can do this with good bacteria and fermentation, which simply takes up the nutrients that yeast and mold otherwise needed to grow, is really amazing. We are truly using nature’s own resources,” states Peter Thoeysen. 

Download scientific article

The article “Competitive Exclusion Is a Major Bioprotective Mechanism of Lactobacilli against Fungal Spoilage in Fermented Milk Products” published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology on March 18th (AEM02312-19), in which Chr. Hansen scientists have revealed the main mechanism of lactic acid bacteria with bioprotective effect against yeasts and molds in dairy products, has been selected by the editors of the journal for inclusion in "Spotlight," a feature in the Journal highlighting research articles that have been deemed of significant interest.

Download the article


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