Microencapsulated Starter Culture During Yoghurt Manufacturing, Effect on Technological Features

Prisco, Annachiara de; Valenberg, Hein J.F. van; Fogliano, Vincenzo; Mauriello, Gianluigi


The potential of living cell microencapsulation in sustaining cells’ viability, functionality and targeted release in gastrointestinal tract is relatively well documented. Differently, the effects exerted by the capsules on cell metabolic activities during fermentation of a food matrix as well as on cell physiology are poorly addressed. This paper aimed at studying the effects of chitosan-alginate capsules (matrix and core-shell) on metabolic activities of Streptococcus thermophilus and probiotic Lactobacillus delbrueckii during milk fermentation for yoghurt production. This food system has been used to monitor growth, acidification kinetics and strain proteolytic activity. Bacterial viability has been monitored during yoghurt storage at 4 °C for 28 days and an in vitro digestion to evaluate the protective effect exerted by the capsules. Furthermore, production of volatile metabolites associated with starter culture activity was monitored by headspace solid-phase microextraction-GC/MS to explore possible influence of microenvironment on cell metabolism. Results indicate that both kinds of capsules influenced at different extent cell functionalities (growth, acidification and proteolysis), while they improve cell viability during yoghurt storage and simulated gastrointestinal passage. The volatile pattern revealed that capsules influenced their production in yoghurt: 12 out of 28 volatiles recovered in yoghurt fermented by free and encapsulated starters had significantly different concentration. However, concentration of the main aroma constituents (e.g. acetaldehyde, diacetyl, acetoin) was not significantly affected. Due to the leakage of bacteria from microcapsules during fermentation, the final product resulted in co-existing of free and still encapsulated cells, with the main advantage of an increased viability during yoghurt storage and simulated digestion of the encapsulated counterpart.