Lactic Acid Bacteria

The lactic acid bacteria, traditionally used for acidification of dry-cured sausages, are mesophilic species such as Lactobacillus plantarum and Pediococcus pentosaceus, and for American-type sausages, P. acidilactici. In recent years, psychrotrophic species such as L. sakei and L. curvatus have become more and more common in countries outside the United States. The lactic acid bacteria are added at a level of 5 to 10 X 106 cells/g meat mixture and reach approximately 10s cells/g in the final product. As described, lactic acid bacteria are responsible for acidification, for development of the acidic taste, and for development of texture. It has, however, also been demonstrated that some lactic acid bacteria possess enzymes normally attributed to Staphylococcus /Kocuria. It is reported that nitrate and nitrite reductases can be found in L. plantarum and L.pen-tosus, and a heme-dependent nitrite reductase has been demonstrated in P. pentosaceus (26). The heme-dependent nitrite reductase transforms nitrite into ammonia, whereas the end product from the heme-independent nitrite reductase is nitrous oxide, a precursor for the formation of nitric oxide. Results from practical experiments have, however, revealed that color formation, solely based on Lactobacillus strains possessing heme-independent nitrite reductase, was insufficient and caused color defects (26). Some lactic acid bacteria may have a color-stabilizing effect as they produce pseudocatalase, a peroxidase, which by nature is a flavoprotein, active under aerobic conditions (26).

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