The present study has documented the positive as well as the negative aspects of yeast in the dairy industry, and the focus on yeast in dairy products seems to be more intensive than ever.
The negative role of yeast as spoilage organisms is still a problem and seen in all kind of dairy products. The most effective way to solve this problem is improvement of hygiene and sanitation, and tighter specifications for various ingredients, e.g., for yoghurt.
The technological characteristics of important yeast and the complexity of the microbiota of many dairy products have been discussed in several recent publications. Especially, the understanding of the positive role yeast play in maturation of surface-ripened cheese is increasing, but only to a very limited extent brought to the point of active use of yeast, i.e., the application of yeast as starter culture. New information on the technological characteristics of yeast and the diversity among strains of the same species is providing a better background for the selection and use of yeast as starter cultures in dairy products. The advantages of deliberate yeast addition to fermented and matured dairy products are evident. The advantages are mainly related to the proteolytic and lipolytic activity of yeast, their influence on aroma formation, and their acceleration of the ripening process. Further, yeast play an important role in microbial interactions resulting in improved performance of starter cultures and inhibition of undesired micro-organisms. Yeast also have probiotic properties.
The taxonomy for yeast is very complex. New methods, including molecular techniques are used increasingly, but for many of the yeast genera related to dairy products the molecular methods are not yet fully developed or sensitive enough to distinguish yeast strains at species or subspecies level. However, these techniques are a valuable supplement to the traditional methods of identification and powerful tools in ecological studies including the microbiota from indigenous fermented dairy products and typing of starter cultures. New approaches for developing methods for typing yeast with potential as starter culture and characterization of yeast causing spoilage in dairy product should be given high priority in future research together with development of yeast starter cultures and the use of yeast as probiotics.
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