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Standardization of a new drink with probiotic potential based on Kefir and fruit juice: evaluation of microbial population dynamics during fermentation and storage in refrigeration

Abstract

The market for natural and functional beverages in Brazil has been growing year after year, with a projection of R$ 20 billion and R$ 8 billion revenue, respectively, until 2021. Increasingly, the Brazilian is looking for alternatives to soft drinks, which bring some health benefit. In this context, the consumption of kefir, a fermented drink, has been growing because it is potentially beneficial to health due to presence of microorganisms with probiotic potential. In order to serve a rapidly expanding market, QFIR Sucos Probióticos Eireli developed in 2017 a new water kefir-based drink containing fruit juice, called Qfir®. The beverage has already been commercialized in the city of São Paulo, but its functionality as a probiotic still needs to be determined. For this, it is necessary to understand the behavior of the microorganisms used in its production, not only during fermentation, but also throughout the shelf life of the final product. Considering that the microbial cultures used for the production of kefir are complex and interaction between the microorganisms present on this culture may occur, the isolation and identification of each microbial species separately is difficult, requiring advanced techniques of molecular biology that still unavailable in the Brazilians food industries. Thus, the objective of this project is to partner with the Food Research Center of the University of São Paulo to study the population dynamics of the microbial cultures used in fermentation and during the shelf-life of the Qfir® beverage, using molecular techniques. The study will also include an assessment of the sensory characteristics of the product during the refrigerated storage period. This knowledge is needed in the future to conduct more detailed studies to assess the potential probiotic potential and health benefits (functionality) of the new beverage. (AU)

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