Avoiding Whey Acidification

April 16/Science Letter -- According to a study from Lyon, France, "Cheeses are frequently made with natural whey starters (NWS). The whey from the previous cheese making is cultured and used for the next day."

"This practice, although essential for the development of typical sensory characteristics, can sometimes lead to acidification defects. In this work, the ability of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis to dominate over the other lactic acid bacteria (LAB) was tested in a controlled system as a possible explanation for these acidification breakdowns. A starter made of two Lc lactis subsp. lactis strains (LL), one Lc lactis subsp. cremoris strain (LC), and one Lc lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis (LD) was added to sterilized milk. After incubation, the whey was removed and used to re-seed sterilized milk, the next day. This process was made during a five and twelve days' period. During the eight first days, the proportion of LD population increased, while the other LAB remained rather stable. Thereafter, LD strains dominated. At the same time, the diversity of LD population diminished considerably. If acidification ability of these LAB is not altered, this simplification was particularly hazardous in case of phages attack. LC and LL behavior was tested in milk containing increasing diacetyl concentrations. As long as diacetyl did not exceed a 5 ppm level-frequently measured in dairy products - its influence was impossible to detect. The selective advantage conferred by the citrate metabolism was proposed as a possible explanation for the LD population dominance," wrote M. Dalmasso and colleagues.

Dalmasso and colleagues published their study in Food Science and Technology International ("Behavior of Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis biovar. diacetylactis in a Four Lactococcus Strain Starter during Successive Milk Cultures." Food Science and Technology International, 2008;14(6):469-477).

For more information, contact Y. Demarigny, ISARA Lyon, AGRAPOLE, Laboratory Microbiology Alimentaire, 23 Rue Jean Baldassini, F-69364 Lyon 7, France.

From the April 27, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition