ProMedFoods- Promotion of local Mediterranean fermented foods through a better knowledge and management of microbial resources
Jérôme Mounier, Université de Bretagne Occidentale ; France
Artisanal Fermented foods, Microbial diversity, Microbial resource management, Quality and safety, Technology transferEnterococcus
Artisanal and traditional fermented foods constitute a significant part of the Mediterranean diet and represent a gastronomical heritage that needs to be preserved and protected. The manufacture and sensorial properties of such products, in contrast to industrial scale fermented foods, relies on complex and poorly defined microbial consortia activities. In this context, the microbiota plays a central role in product-manufacturing. Indeed, the broad microbial diversity together with the use of minimally-processed raw materials and traditional know-how is largely responsible for fermented products attributed sensory complexity and beneficial health properties. However, it can also be responsible quality and shelf-life variability. While maintaining high microbial diversity is necessary to avoid product standardisation, better knowledge about this diversity together with desirable and autochthonous strain selection as well as improved microbial resource management could clearly help local producers to manufacture high quality hygienic fermented products with longer shelf-life. Concerning hygiene and safety, this is particularly important for southern Mediterranean countries where cold chain ruptures regularly occur. The concept of the proposed ProMedFoods project is to directly work with SMEs and SME associations to provide new solutions to better control fermentation processes and more efficiently manage their microbial resources. This project will directly transfer tools to SMEs to increase their technological level, competitiveness and possibly contribute to increase their income by reducing spoilage and improving fermented food quality and shelf-life. The overall aims of this project will be to conduct an ethnobiological study of selected artisanal Mediterranean fermented products (cheeses, fermented butter, table olives and fermented sausages) and describe their complete production process (know-how) based on surveys and on-site observations in close collaboration with local producers (WP1). Then, microbial diversity and sanitary quality of well-defined local fermented products will be determined using culture-dependent and culture-independent (metabarcoding and metagenomic) strategies (WP2). Culture-dependent methods will be used to create and preserve a large working collection of microorganisms in CBR strain collections. After beneficial and dominant strain characterization and selection, primarily based on their safety assessment (WP3), the goal will be to help local producers improving overall product quality and safety by better microbial resource management and microbial fermentation technology (use of defined starters or ripening cultures and on-site pilot scale fermentations) (WP3 and WP4). To efficiently carry out the project goals, we have gathered local fermented food producers from each partner’s country and 7 highly specialized multidisciplinary research teams in food microbiology from 2 non-EU (Algeria, INATAA and Tunisia, ENSAT) and 4 EU countries (France, INRA and UBO, Greece, DEMETER, Italy, DISAFA and Spain, IPLA).