The impact of microbial exopolysaccharides (EPS) from lactic acid bacteria (LAB) on dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese, or milk based desserts has been extensively described in recent years. It is well known that EPS influence viscosity, syneresis, firmness, as well as sensory properties. The rheological properties of milk products may depend on several factors, such as EPS location (capsular, free), EPS structure (molecular mass, side chains, stiffness, charge), EPS concentration, and the interaction of EPS with other product compounds (proteins, minerals, or bacteria). This review summarises literature concerning the structural and rheological characterisation, localisation and specific application of several EPS from LAB, and intends to critically evaluate different methods and conclusions reported in research. The main focus is on the behaviour and effect of EPS, either produced in situ or added as stabiliser, on acid milk gels.
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