History

The history of food fermentation paralleled the development of microbiology and food microbiology. Traditionally many foods were prepared by fermentation, but the reasons behind the success or failure of the processes were not known. After the work of Pasteur in the 1850s and others, who demonstrated that a specific microorganism (eg, yeast) acting on a suitable substrate (grape juice) will produce a desirable product (wine), the science of food fermentation began. Now many food fermentation principles and practices are well established, and food companies can predictably produce consistently good-quality fermented products. With the advances in genetic engineering, old processes are being improved and new ones are being discovered. Also, many indigenous fermented foods (such as some Oriental foods and African tribal foods) and their processes are not well known and are areas for future investigation.

Although the principles of fermentation in many foods are understood in a laboratory setting, the scaling-up of these processes to commercially successful operations is complicated. A detailed account of all aspects of anaerobic fermentation, including methodology of anaerobic cultivation; mutation and genetic engineering of anaerobic bacteria; industrially important strains and pathways, biochemistry, kinetics, and transport in anaerobic fermentation; bioenergetics of anaerobic processes; data collection and analysis; mixed culture interactions; and design and application of anaerobic systems has been published by Er-ickson and Fung (1).

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