Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have long been used as starter cultures in the production of fermented dry sausages and other meat-derived commodities. These cultures are generally designed to meet food safety, shelf-life, technological effectiveness and economic feasibility criteria. Besides all these traditional properties, novel starter cultures should take into account the risks posed by the formation of biogenic amines in food, and the development and spreading of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Further, 'functional starters' could protect consumers from harmful bacteria either by a rapid acidification or by the production of antimicrobials (bacteriocins). Specially-selected cultures may also provide probiotic benefits, and, if properly modified, they may even be endorsed with nutraceutical traits. The present review discusses the technological and new selection criteria that should be taken into account when selecting LAB starter cultures for the production of fermented dry sausages. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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