Fermented foods in a global age: East meets West

Jyoti Prakash Tamang, Paul D. Cotter, Akihito Endo, Nam Soo Han, Remco Kort, Shao Quan Liu, Baltasar Mayo, Nieke Westerik, Robert Hutkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Fermented foods and alcoholic beverages have long been an important part of the human diet in nearly every culture on every continent. These foods are often well-preserved and serve as stable and significant sources of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Despite these common features, however, many differences exist with respect to substrates and products and the types of microbes involved in the manufacture of fermented foods and beverages produced globally. In this review, we describe these differences and consider the influence of geography and industrialization on fermented foods manufacture. Whereas fermented foods produced in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand usually depend on defined starter cultures, those made in Asia and Africa often rely on spontaneous fermentation. Likewise, in developing countries, fermented foods are not often commercially produced on an industrial scale. Although many fermented products rely on autochthonous microbes present in the raw material, for other products, the introduction of starter culture technology has led to greater consistency, safety, and quality. The diversity and function of microbes present in a wide range of fermented foods can now be examined in detail using molecular and other omic approaches. The nutritional value of fermented foods is now well-appreciated, especially in resource-poor regions where yoghurt and other fermented foods can improve public health and provide opportunities for economic development. Manufacturers of fermented foods, whether small or large, should follow Good Manufacturing Practices and have sustainable development goals. Ultimately, preferences for fermented foods and beverages depend on dietary habits of consumers, as well as regional agricultural conditions and availability of resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-217
Number of pages34
JournalComprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • fermentation
  • fermented foods and beverages
  • genomics
  • lactic acid bacteria
  • starter cultures


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