Food fermentations: microorganisms with technological beneficial use.
In the EU, there are no specific legal regulations regarding microbial food cultures. However, at European and national level, there are regulations that require microbial cultures to be checked in terms of their compliance with legal requirements. Due to the lack of definitions for microbial food cultures with various applications, there are uncertainties regarding how they are to be assessed. The increased elaboration of microbial ecology and modern taxonomy has allowed the description of numerous new species that are attractive for use in food cultures or are already in use, on which, however, only limited experience is available. In view of these developments, the SKLM has prepared this statement, focusing on definitions, gaps in knowledge and further research needs. It aims to support the producers and users of microbial cultures as well as authorities responsible for consumer health protection with respect to safety assessment and to contribute to consumer information. The scientific status concerning these cultures in food technology, the traditional roots of their application and their potential for sustaining and/or furthering food variety and quality have not been adequately described up to now. This is the subject of the present SKLM statement. In addition, definitions are proposed for cultures used in food technology that may also be useful for the assessment in a legal context. The opinion was released in German on 29 March 2010, the English version was agreed on 15 November 2010.