Microbial composition of sweetness-enhanced yoghurt during fermentation and storage.
The reformulation of dairy products to contain less added sugar can contribute to reducing sugar consumption, thereby reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases. The objective of this study was to investigate the microbial ecology of reformulated yoghurt, which was produced using bi-enzymatic modification of lactose to increase its sweetness by a factor of 2-3. Ultimately, this reformulation strategy could reduce the amount of added sugar needed for equal sweetness of the end product. The bi-enzymatic modification relied on utilisation of a β-galactosidase enzyme to convert the milk sugar lactose to galactose and glucose, followed by the enzymatic conversion of the glucose moiety to fructose using a glucose isomerase. The microbial ecology of reformulated yoghurt produced with two mixed starter culture preparations containing either Streptococcus (S.) thermophilus and Lactobacillus (Lb.) delbrueckii or S. thermophilus, Lb. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium sp. strains, was analysed during fermentation and cool storage using 16S rRNA based metagenomics. None of the yoghurt samples showed a significant difference in microbial composition between sweetness-enhanced and regular milk at all sampling time points during manufacture and storage of yoghurt. However, a significant difference between the microbiota of inoculated milk before and after fermentation was observed. In both types of yoghurt, the starter culture genera dominated the microbial ecology at the end of fermentation as expected, reducing the possibility of growth of potentially pathogenic or spoilage bacteria possibly resulting from a changed carbohydrate spectrum.