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Quality and safety of traditional foods: the role of microbiology

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Author(s): Francesca Clementi | Lucia Aquilanti | Cristiana Garofalo

Journal: Italian Journal of Agronomy
ISSN 1125-4718

Volume: 4;
Issue: 3s;
Start page: 101;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: fermented foods | typical and traditional foods | molecular tools | food micro-organisms | food safety.

ABSTRACT
The typical and traditional foods represent an heritage of undisputed value and a significant development opportunity for large part of the territory of our country. Their protection and enhancement can not prescind from thorough knowledge, based on objective data, concerning both the strengths and weaknesses of this type of productions. Most of the traditional and origin-protected foods are fermented foods and most of them have great value in the daily diet, as bread and other leavened baked goods, cheeses, fermented milks and different kinds of fermented meat products. The fermentation processes of these traditional productions are based on the activities of characteristic microbial communities, often very heterogeneous and complex, defined “autochthonous” since they are specifically associated to raw materials and production environments. The role of these microbial communities is essential in determining the nutritional and sensory properties of the traditional and typical foods, therefore, their knowledge is crucial for giving value to these products. On the other hand, it is necessary that the typical and traditional productions guarantee the same level of safety present in current products obtained through more standardized processes. To this aim, both a deep knowledge of the mechanisms leading to the occurrence of possible risks and the development of appropriate control tools (respectful of the traditional nature of these productions) are needed. Food Microbiologists have given an essential contribution in both these directions carrying out researches dealing with the microbial populations of the typical and traditional productions, focused on either autochthonous microorganisms that play a pro-technology role, or pathogen micro-organisms and toxic metabolite producers. This brief review summarizes the contributions collected from the Microbiologists of the SIMTREA presented at the Congress of the AISSA.
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