Researchers at the National Food Institute have come up with a solution that can help fight both food loss and food waste: they have generated a natural lactic acid bacterium, which secretes the antimicrobial peptide nisin, when ‘it is grown on dairy waste.
Nisin is a food grade preservative, which can extend the shelf life of foods and therefore can be used to reduce food waste. The discovery also makes better use of the large amounts of whey generated during cheese making.
Nisin is approved for use in a number of foods, where it may inhibit the growth of certain spoilage microorganisms as well as microorganisms that make consumers sick. For example, it can inhibit spore germination in canned soups and prevent late puffing of cheeses – without affecting its flavor.
In theory, nisin could be added to fresh milk to extend its shelf life. However, different countries have different rules indicating what types of products nisin can be added to and in what amounts.
A further step towards better use of whey
Many dairies are already making profits by extracting protein and lactose from the many tons of whey they generate, which they use for example in infant formula and sports nutrition. What is left can still be used to produce nisin.
In addition to ensuring better use of resources, there can be a financial gain in producing nisin: most commercially available nisin products contain 2.5% nisin and cost around 40 euros per kilogram. .
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Material provided by Technical University of Denmark. Original written by Miriam Meister. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.