Fermentation - tradition to innovation

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Fermentation is more than just an old technique for preserving food. It is a key to solving global challenges. Three studies that show how modern fermentation is shaping the future of food:

  • Fermented foods: a boost for intestinal flora - Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi as a boost for intestinal health?
  • Precision fermentation: The next step towards a sustainable food future - How can precision fermentation revolutionize sustainable food production?
  • The revolution in nutrition through precision fer mentation - How is the legal classification of food driven by precision fermentation?


Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi are not only culinary highlights, but can also promote intestinal health. A recent study underlines the positive effects of these foods on our intestinal flora. The consumption of fermented foods significantly increases the diversity of the intestinal flora, which can significantly reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
This traditional preservation method has been used for centuries. It preserves important vitamins such as C, B2, B12 and folic acid and ensures the production of essential chemical substances through the natural fermentation process. These include butyric acid, which plays a key role in stabilizing the DNA in our stem cells and can regulate inflammatory reactions in the body.

Lactic acid fermentation is a process in which health-promoting lactobacilli convert sugar and starch into lactic acid. This process not only contributes to the shelf life of food, but also promotes healthy intestinal flora. Experts therefore recommend eating fermented foods every day, with a particular preference for home-made or organic products. These foods contain a higher number of bacteria that are important for fermentation and are not limited in their effectiveness by pasteurization.

By eating fermented foods, we are not only doing our taste buds a big favor, but also our health.

Wastyk et al, (2021). Gut-microbiota-targeted diets modulate human immune status. Cell. https://www.cell.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0092-8674%2821%2900754-6


This technology combines sustainability with modern biotechnology and opens up new horizons for food production. Precision fermentation is an innovative method that makes it possible to produce essential food components such as proteins, fats and oligosaccharides (polysaccharides) by modifying yeasts and microorganisms. What was traditionally obtained from environmentally harmful sources can now be produced sustainably. Precision fermentation is an important building block for an ethically responsible and environmentally friendly diet. The study by Mary Ann Augustin and colleagues shows the enormous potential of this technology and also highlights the associated economic and regulatory challenges. Despite these challenges, the vision of food production through precision fermentation that meets the needs of today's society remains an example of progress towards a more sustainable food future. With a clear focus on safety, taste and overcoming regulatory barriers, precision fermentation has the potential to transform the food industry and make a significant contribution to a healthier and more sustainable world.

Augustin, M. A., Hartley, C. J., Maloney, G. R. & Tyndall, S. M. (2023). Innovation in precision fermentation for food ingredients. Critical Reviews in Food Science And Nutrition, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2023.2166014


A pioneering research project is being carried out at the University of Bayreuth that deals with the legal classification and market launch of foods produced by precision fermentation. The study is investigating how products consisting of nature-identical proteins and serving as an alternative to animal-based foods can conquer the European market.

The legal provisions under which these novel foods fall are examined. There is a distinction between the Novel Food Regulation for novel foods and the Regulation on genetically modified foods. This distinction depends on whether genetically modified organisms are used in production. An example of such a product is 'animal-free' cheese made from nature-identical milk proteins.

Prof. Dr. Kai Purnhagen's team conducted intensive research to find out how such products can be approved and declared. The declaration options also play an important role here: can a cheese produced using precision fermentation be labeled as vegan? Are designations such as "cheese" or "animal-free" legally permissible?

The results of the project provide valuable insights for the scientific community as well as practical guidelines for start-ups and established companies looking to develop innovative and sustainable food alternatives. By clarifying the legal framework, the study creates a solid basis for the future development and marketing of precision fermentation products in the European Union.

Federica Ronchetti, Laura Springer, Kai P. Purnhagen: "The Regulatory Landscape in the EU for Dairy Products Derived from Precision Fermentation. An Analysis on the Example of Cheese"; https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-031-49692-9

The results of these studies will not only attract attention in scientific circles, but will also be discussed at the upcoming Fermentation Summit will also play a central role. The event will bring together experts, innovators and entrepreneurs to discuss the future of food technology and present the latest developments in fermented foods, from traditional practices to modern innovations.

Laura Pohrer
Laura Pohrer
Food Campus Berlin

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