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Due to the fact that most strains of L. In spite of LAB, starter cultures may also contain micrococci, most frequently those of Micrococcus varians species and of Staphylococcus xylosus , Staphylococcus carnosus and Streptomyces griseus [ 15 ]. Apart from providing consistent quality and typical sensory features, the primary function of LAB bacteria included in such starter cultures is mainly to preserve the product through the production of lactic acid during metabolic changes and competition with microbiota naturally occurring in the meat product and pathogenic microorganisms.

The composition of starter cultures impacts the duration of the ageing process and storage stability of such products but also on their flavour, odour and texture [ 16 , 24 ]. One of the major focuses of the current innovation in development of novel starter cultures to meat industry seems to be on improved food safety and health properties.

Lactic acid bacteria originating from fermented meats are specially adapted to the ecology of meat fermentation. The rapid production of lactic acid in those products is primarily responsible for the quality and safety of the product [ 16 , 25 ]. First of all the addition of selected starter cultures usually induces a higher acidification, compared to the standard product, which was reported by several authors [ 13 , 26 — 28 ].

For example, in [ 29 ], they have found that Lb. In Ref. It has been also found that probiotic starter cultures may have been successfully used in fermentation process of meat products. The recent literature is also well consistent in indicating advantages of selected starter cultures in the control of pathogenic bacteria and other spoilage microflora. Fermented meat products are commonly considered safe for consumption, and the acidification by lactic acid starter bacteria is one of the main preserving factors. The most frequently isolated lactic acid bacteria from dry sausages processed with different technologies are L.

The lactic acid bacteria LAB produce an array of antimicrobial substances such as organic acids, diacetyl, acetoin, hydrogen peroxide, reuterin, reutericyclin, antifungal peptides and bacteriocins [ 34 , 35 ]. Therefore, there is an increasing interest in lactic acid bacteria LAB derived from meat that can be used as starter or adjunct cultures in dry sausage fermentation.

As there is no sufficient glucose in meat to reduce the pH, the addition of glucose is essential to develop the desired metabolic activity to produce lactic acid via glycolysis. Hydrogen peroxide is produced after glucose is consumed by cells [ 37 ]. Bacteriocins are the peptides produced by lactic acid bacteria with antibacterial properties. It has been observed that starter cultures containing L. Also L. In the other study [ 46 ], they reported antilisterial effect of a lactic acid bacterium isolated from Italian salami. The bacteriocin produced by L. Bacteriocinogenic starter cultures are recommended as an additional hurdle to reduce the risk of L.

In contrast sakacin P, synthesized by L. The addition of the bacteriocinogenic L. Sakacins produced by L. Besides prevention of microbiological hazards, also probiotic starter cultures have been developed. Dynamic development of the functional food market has contributed to the attempt to use starter cultures consisting of probiotic LAB in meat processing.

Two trends may be observed during development of new probiotic starter cultures. One of them is an attempt to apply already known probiotic cultures from the gastrointestinal tract of healthy humans used, e. The second one consists in isolating of the strains of lactic acid bacteria from naturally fermented meat products and examining them in terms of probiotic qualities as well as of safety of use in an industrial scale [ 25 , 53 — 55 ].

Model studies with the use of probiotic bacteria as a starter culture to manufacture ripening meat products revealed that strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus , L. Presence of other inhibitory factors: low water activity, low sugar contents, nitrates and salt additives. As a result of their own metabolic changes, the probiotic starter cultures produce a number of bacteriostatic and bactericidal substances e.

Escherichia coli and Pseudomonaceae as well as species such as Listeria monocytogenes or Staphylococcus aureus , thus naturally preserving the products discussed [ 14 , 48 , 59 , 60 ]. Primary and secondary products resulting from degradation of lipids and proteins have significant impact on deterioration of sensory quality i. Additionally, they affect the health safety and shorten the use by date of the meat products discussed [ 18 , 61 — 63 ]. Research on autoxidation of the fat in ripening products clearly proves that probiotic strains protect lipids from oxidation during storage which is indicated by substantially lower values of TBARS parameter in comparison to the control sample [ 64 , 65 ].

Protein breakdown takes place with the participation of microbiological enzymes, which in turn leads to deamination and decarboxylation. These reactions occur faster at low pH values. The basic products of protein decarboxylation in meat are cadaverine, putrescine, tyramine and histamine. Large concentration of biogenic amines in meat products may result in adverse symptoms in consumers, such as increase in blood pressure, increase in rate and strength of heart contraction and problems with the central nervous system, including migraines.

Additionally, it may cause stomachaches, vomiting or severe sweating [ 56 ]. However, the previous attempts to manufacture meat product in controlled process of fermentation and ageing conducted by proven and selected probiotic strains mainly pertain to sausages [ 1 , 10 , 23 , 33 , 54 , 57 , 68 , 69 ]. Moreover, there are few research works published which will unequivocally confirm the technological suitability of probiotic cultures and their healthy impact on human body caused by regular consumption of such meat products [ 70 — 72 ].

The task consisting in introducing the probiotic starter cultures to meat is not easy to perform, as these bacteria which are in fact the intestinal bacteria do not demonstrate very good technological properties. It was determined that from 50 to million of lactic acid bacteria, including mainly L. Therefore, the raw meat material itself constitutes a problem, because spontaneous growth of LAB may occur there.

Secondly, inoculation of the probiotic bacteria is performed to the raw material which is not sterile as is the case of fermented milk products or fermented juices [ 73 , 74 ]. Thirdly, certain analytic difficulties also emerge here. Identification of selected probiotic strains in meat with the use of traditional microbiological methods is not complete, because only the general number of LAB is assayed.

Only advanced identification methods based on genetic analysis of nucleotide sequences typical for given bacterial strain may ensure that all of them will be assayed [ 54 ]. The factors limiting and even inhibiting the growth of the discussed microbes in meat environment include mainly the native microflora but also low water activity and the content of sugars naturally occurring in meat, as well as technological additives: sodium chloride, nitrates and other curing agents [ 15 ].

Low content of simple sugars in fresh meat, necessary for lactic acid bacteria, including probiotic ones, to conduct metabolic change, also poses a significant problem 4. Therefore, microorganisms discussed start to use amino acids as an alternative source of carbon which starts the spoilage process of meat and results in intensive bitter taste. For this reason, saccharides are added in amount of 0. There is also a technological difficulty in inoculating bacterial strain form, number, application method to cured element to an unground meat in particular.

Starter cultures are most often manufactured in lyophilized or frozen form. Adding starter cultures to tenderloin or ham is significantly more difficult, as they are also posed by varied consistency of different muscles. They result, i. One of the major technological problems involves no detailed procedure for production of probiotic meat products developed. This primarily requires determination of optimal temperature for fermentation and ageing, which will allow probiotic strains to grow and dominate natural microbiota in the meat. In contrast, the use of higher temperature decreases the duration of fermentation; however there is a risk that microorganisms responsible for product's spoilage will grow in the meat [ 13 , 15 ].

Additionally, one of the important technological criteria to be met by a probiotic strain includes stability during storage, i. Probiotic microorganisms selected to the production of aged meat products must meet not only the necessary requirements of safety and functionality but also the technological criteria discussed above. The shelf life of fermented meat products is generally not limited by bacterial deterioration but by chemical spoilage [ 76 ]. It is oxidation stability that is the main restriction on the shelf life of probiotic meat products [ 77 ].

Processed products, which are minced, mixed with salt and heated, expose muscle tissue to oxidative stress responsible for loss of quality and lead to oxidative flavours and loss of haem iron and vitamins and finally cause discoloration [ 77 ]. Oxidation of lipids can also have a negative effect on nutritional value and may be responsible for the production of toxic compounds.

In addition, a strong correlation between lipid and myoglobin oxidation, especially in fresh meat, has been documented by scientists [ 78 ]. However, there is also strong evidence that haem pigments may initiate lipid oxidation through the reaction of hydrogen peroxide with metmyoglobin to form ferryl and perferrylmyoglobin, which have powerful prooxidant effects on lipids.

Probiotic bacteria can stabilize the oxidation process taking during the maturing and prolonged storage period. In [ 80 ], they pointed out that inoculation with L. The interaction of myoglobin with H 2 O 2 activates metmyoglobin, which may be a ferrylmyoglobin radical that is very unstable and can transform rapidly into the peroxyl radical form. On the other hand, in research [ 81 ], they proposed that L. Also in Ref. In another paper the same authors presented that six strains of L.

Authors of the Ref. Sausages with lower probiotic bacteria inoculation 6. The study suggests that the probiotic strain can be used in the production of edible sausage. The study conducted by authors of [ 84 ] proved that the use of potential probiotic L. Studies of the effects of the probiotic L. The results presented by authors of Ref. Influence of probiotic starter cultures on lipid oxidation, proteolysis, biogenic amine formation and sensorial quality in meat processing.

Proteolysis results in generation of peptides, oligopeptides and finally free amino acids FAAs. Proteolysis is one of the most important biochemical changes, which take place during ageing of fermented meat products. FAAs contribute to the basic taste and aroma of fermented meat products [ 86 ]. However, an excessive amount of FAAs seems to be responsible for the biogenic amine formation.

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The biogenic amines BAs are the compounds in which one, two or three hydrogens of ammonia are replaced by alkyl or aryl groups. Tyramine and phenylethylamine have aromatic structure, while putrescine, cadaverine, spermine and spermidine have the aliphatic one. Heterocyclic structures were proved for histamine and tryptamine. Based on number of amine group, we can divide the BA into the monoamines phenylethylamine, tyramine , diamines cadaverine, putrescine and polyamines spermidine, spermine [ 87 ].

Biogenic amines have been reported in variety of foods, such as fish, meat, cheese, vegetable and wine [ 88 ]. They can be formed but also degraded as a result of normal metabolism of living cells in plant, animal and microorganism. BA can be produced by two different pathways: firstly by the decarboxylation of free amino acids and secondly by the amination and transamination of aldehydes and ketones [ 15 ].

Microorganisms have a different ability to synthesize decarboxylases. Pseudomonas , Enterobacteriaceae , enterococci and lactobacilli were found to have a high decarboxylase activity [ 88 ]. Within the same species, the presence, the activity and the specificity of decarboxylases are strain dependent.

Bacterial amino acid decarboxylases usually have an acidic pH optimum 4. On the other hand, rapid and intense acidifications of environment reduce the growth of Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci. The factors that could significantly influence the BA formations in fermented meat are pH value, redox potential, environment microorganisms, starter culture, temperature of maturing, salt concentration, additives, water activity and hygienic quality of meat [ 89 ]. Other authors proved that concentration of sodium chloride at the level from 3.

Within the family Micrococcaceae, Kocuria spp. The most common yeasts used as meat starters are Debaryomyces spp. Both bacterial and yeast starters are inoculated in meat batters Laranjo et al. Molds starters, as strict aerobes, are surface inoculated and belong mainly to the species Penicillium nalgiovense and P.

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The main microbiological hazards that may occur in meat products are the foodborne pathogens Salmonella spp. Several factors will influence the protective ability of starter cultures, such as initial level of contamination, nature of the contaminant species, fermentation time, and storage conditions. For example, if the initial contamination level is high, the use of a starter culture cannot improve the quality of the food product. LAB are the starter cultures mostly involved in preventing or controlling microbiological hazards.

One of the aims of the use of starter cultures is to accelerate the production of lactic acid from the fermentation of sugars. The antimicrobial properties of lactic acid result from the establishment of unfavorable conditions that reduce the growth rate of undesirable microorganisms Krockel, ; Bassi et al. Other substances can be produced, such as acetic and propionic acids, ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, reuterin, antimicrobial peptides, and bacteriocins Caplice and Fitzgerald, ; Galvez et al.

These products must be effective against spoilage microorganisms, such as Pseudomonas spp. In vitro inhibitory capacity of some strains of Lb. Only two strains of Lb. Counts of L. In in vitro experiments, inhibitory capacity of Lb. The use of Lb. In meat products, Casquete et al. Growth inhibition of coliforms and presumed S.

These authors observed the same effect on Salmonella spp. In pork ground meat for fermented salami preparation, Lb. On the other hand, in Dacia, the Romanian traditional dry-sausage, the decrease of Gram-negative microorganisms, namely enterobacteria, throughout the ripening period is explained by the low pH value, due to the inclusion of Lactobacillus acidophilus at a concentration of 8.

This revealed that the acidification occurring in the inoculated sausages is responsible for the inhibition of enterobacteria and E. In North European cured raw hams, the LAB Tetragenococcus halophilus was used as starter culture combined with Staphylococcus equorum , and the result was a 3—5 log reduction in the S. Organic acids, such as lactic, acetic, formic, propionic, and butyric acids, are known to be effective against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, as well as yeasts.

The antimicrobial effects of organic acids may be played either by the action of undissociated molecules of the organic acids or by the reduction of pH Pragalaki et al. Organic acids produced during fermentation by LAB, like acetic and lactic acid, act by diffusion of the undissociated form of the molecule across the cell membrane.

Acidity can also play an additional role on the control of undesirable microorganisms potentiating the effect of other antimicrobial agents. Bactericidal effects of nitrates and nitrites as well as its metabolic intermediates like nitric oxide NO , nitrogen dioxide NO 2 , and nitrous oxide N 2 O are recognized. These compounds are produced faster in low pH Wang et al.

Thus, the presence of strains with high acidifying activity can contribute to the improvement of food safety, associated to a decrease in the use of nitrates and nitrites. Hydrogen peroxide H 2 O 2 is a compound produced by LAB in the presence of oxygen by oxidases like pyruvate oxidases, lactate oxidases, NADH oxidases and flavoproteins reductases in anaerobiosis Pragalaki et al.

As suggested by Pragalaki et al. Lactic acid bacteria also produce ethanol, which as other volatiles contributes to the typical flavor of some fermented products Leroy and De Vuyst, ; Reis et al. Carbon dioxide is a by-product from the fermentation of sugars by heterofermentative LAB. It plays an important role in food preservation replacing the aerobic atmosphere by an anaerobic environment. Reuterin 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde is a well-known broad-range antimicrobial compound produced by Lactobacillus reuteri under anaerobic fermentation Mu et al.

Reuterin may be converted into different compounds, and thus it has been difficult to determine the mechanism by which reuterin exerts its antimicrobial effect Schaefer et al. Reuterin is spontaneously converted in acrolein, which is a cytotoxic electrophile, but reuterin and not acrolein is responsible for the antimicrobial action Schaefer et al. Reuterin was also shown to be effective in reducing the viable cells of E. Finally, it has been shown that certain LAB possess a nitrite reductase enzyme system that reduces, under anaerobic conditions, nitrite used as preservative agent in some meat products, suggesting that LAB contribute to the depletion of nitrite in many foods Wang et al.

The presence of nitrate reductase and heme-independent nitrite reductase, able to convert nitrite to NO, NO 2 , and N 2 O has also been described in Lb. In fact, nitrite concentration was significantly lower in fermented sausages inoculated with Lb. This is especially relevant for the control of L. Among the different antimicrobial compounds produced by LAB, bacteriocins have been subject of attention lately. They may be considered an alternative type of antimicrobial agents Cotter et al. They constitute a group of peptides with bactericidal or bacteriostatic activity against species closely related to the producer as some food spoilage and food poisoning Gram-positive bacteria like Bacillus spp.

Examples of bacteriocins are nisin, pediocin, sakacin, curvacin, plantaricin, and bacteriolysins, such as enterolysin A and lysostaphin. They are effective in the control of several species of pathogens including L. Several systems have been used to classify bacteriocins with criteria such as structure or antimicrobial action Fraqueza et al. The classification of Cotter et al. Regarding their range of antimicrobial action, bacteriocins may be divided into three groups: 1 those with a narrow range of antagonist activity, against strains within the same species, or species within the same genus; 2 those with antimicrobial activity against other bacterial species, including the pathogens L.

Bacteriocins produced by different LAB species and their target microorganisms are listed in Table 1. Table 1. Types and examples of bacteriocins produced by LAB isolated from meat products. Bacteriocin activity has been reported to be less effective in the products than in vitro. This reduction might be due to the binding of the bacteriocin molecules to the food matrix, namely to the fat, but also due to the undermining action of proteases and other enzymes. Furthermore, bacteriocins are unevenly distributed in the food matrix, and may be inhibited by salt and curing agents Pragalaki et al.

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Nevertheless, bacteriocinogenic LAB have been used as bioprotective cultures to prevent the growth of pathogens in sausages. In fact, a Lb. In in vitro inoculated meat samples, Castellano et al. Therefore, LAB strains producing bacteriocins are gaining importance in the production of dry-cured and fermented meat products due to their activity against undesirable microorganisms. Numerous studies have shown that LAB can be used to reduce the population of unfavorable microbiota in dry-cured meat products and are likely to have a commercial application in food preservation as natural food preservatives.

Two Lactobacillus curvatus strains isolated from Italian salami produce two bacteriocins, sakacin P and sakacin X, with activity against L. Moreover, the application of semi-purified bacteriocins to the salami batter caused a reduction in the counts of L. Bacteriocins and other antimicrobial peptides are becoming more important with the increased resistance of bacteria to traditional antimicrobials.

In some clinical cases, LAB and bacteriocins may be the only therapy, sometimes in combination with low dosages of traditional antimicrobials Mokoena, Innovative applications of LAB and bacteriocins are progressively emerging, such as site-specific drug delivery and anti-quorum sensing strategies Mokoena, Staphylococci also play a role in preserving meat products by synthesizing nitric oxide from arginine via nitric oxide synthase NOS , which is widely distributed in staphylococci Sapp et al.

This activity was also observed in other staphylococci used as starter cultures in meat Ras et al. Reduction of nitrate to nitrite in meat is made by nitrate reductase from staphylococci. For S. Nitrate reductase is often described as being involved in the reduction of nitrate to nitrite, but the reduction of nitrite that leads to the production of NO, independently of respiration, can be due to a molybdenum enzyme, such as nitrate reductase Maia and Moura, The conditions required to observe NO synthesis by nitrate reductase result from anaerobic conditions associated with a decrease in nitrate concentration combined with the accumulation of nitrite in the medium Maia and Moura, Yeasts and molds are used less frequently as starter cultures.

However, the application of molds and yeasts as surface starter cultures may sometimes contribute to an increased product safety Bosse et al. Strains of D. Amongst the chemical hazards that constitute a major concern in meat products, the most important are biogenic amines BAs , nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAHs , and mycotoxins, among others. Biogenic amines BA are nitrogenous compounds derived from amino acids Suzzi and Torriani, ; Elias et al.

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The content and profile of BA present in fermented meat products has been extensively studied Suzzi, ; Roseiro et al. Histamine, tyramine, and phenylethylamine are the foremost dietary BA associated with health problems, namely vasoactive and psychoactive reactions: histaminic intoxication, enteric histaminosis causing food intolerance, food-induced migraines, and interactions between tyramine and monoamine oxidase inhibitors Spano et al. The production of fermented meat products involves a hugely diverse microbiota that includes technologically important microorganisms as well as undesired food spoilers and pathogens Latorre-Moratalla et al.

Nevertheless, both technological microbiota as well as microbial contaminants may be responsible for producing BA Latorre-Moratalla et al. Therefore, it is necessary to effectively control the levels of BA that accumulate in fermented meat products, due to the health risks associated with these compounds Latorre-Moratalla et al. Some toxicological characteristics and outbreaks of food poisoning are associated with histamine and tyramine Silla Santos, Several studies have demonstrated the role of starter cultures in reducing the accumulation of BA in meat products Maijala et al.

Nevertheless, other studies have reported the inefficiency of starters to reduce the content in BA in some fermented meat products Parente et al. Furthermore, Komprda et al. Recent studies have shown that autochthonous starter cultures may control the accumulation of BA in fermented meat products, while retaining their sensory properties Lorenzo et al.

Other authors found a significant decrease in the levels of tyramine, cadaverine, and histamine during the ripening of sausages with combined staphylococci and lactobacilli starter cultures Maijala et al. Combined starter cultures of Lb. On the contrary, the use of P. In food microbiology, BA have sometimes been related to spoilage and fermentation processes. These amines can undergo nitrosation to form nitrosamines, mainly in the presence of nitrites Ruiz-Capillas and Jimenez-Colmenero, Nitrite can be converted to nitric oxide, a nitrosating agent that can react with amines to produce nitrosamines.

In fact, nitric oxide can react with secondary amines to produce potent carcinogenic nitrosamines. These are more stable than those formed from primary amines that break down quickly, whereas tertiary amines can hardly form nitrosamines Douglass et al. In foods, nitrosamines are formed by reactions of nitrogen oxide with amines. This compound reacts with another molecule of nitrite to form nitrogen anhydride after dehydration, which donates nitroso group to the amines in food to produce N-nitrosamines Rostkowska et al.

The formation of N-nitrosamines is illustrated in Figure 1 adapted from Rostkowska et al. Figure 1. Reduction of nitrite to nitrous anhydride, followed by nitrosation of a biogenic amine with nitrous anhydride. Nevertheless, the probability of formation of stable N-nitrosamines in meat and meat products is rather low Honikel, According to Tanaka et al. The biodegradation of nitrite by LAB may occur due to the acidification of the product or to the action of nitrite reductase. Indeed, LAB, mainly lactobacilli and pediococci, significantly contribute to nitrite-depletion in cured meats, which is increased by the decrease in pH due to the lactic acid produced Dodds and Collins-Thompson, In recent years, the use of natural curing agents, such as celery, containing nitrate, combined with nitrate reducing starter cultures, has been proposed to minimize the use of nitrite Sebranek et al.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAHs are aromatic hydrocarbons with two or more combined benzene rings in different conformations Lawal, , that do not contain heteroatoms or carry substituents Wenzl et al. One of the main source of human exposure is the dietary intake of PAHs Duan et al. Food products can be contaminated by PAHs that exist in the surrounding environment, but also throughout food processing and cooking Lawal, Smoking is a traditional curing process that is applied to certain type of cured meat products.

Smoking serves preservation purposes, since it inhibits the growth of molds and bacteria on the product surface, but also delays lipid oxidation, and adds a characteristic smoky flavor Holck et al. Hence, the EFSA panel proposed the use of a specific group of four-PAH4 benzo a pyrene, benz a anthracene, benzo b fluoranthene, and chrysene or eight-PAH8 benzo[a]pyrene, benz[a]anthracene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, benzo[ghi]perylene, chrysene, dibenz[a,h]anthracene, and indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene PAHs to evaluate the occurrence and toxicity of PAHs in food products EFSA, PAHs profiles in smoked meat products have been studied in different product types and manufacturing practices smoking wood, smoking practices Roseiro et al.

PAHs profiles of Portuguese traditional dry-fermented sausages from south Portugal have been studied Santos et al. However, the effect of starters on PAHs content has been given little attention. Elias et al. Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites capable of causing disease that may vary widely in their toxicity. They have a number of adverse effects on health, affecting the immune system, nervous system, liver, kidneys, blood, and some mycotoxins are known to be carcinogens.

The toxic effects of mycotoxins may be either acute after a single exposure or chronic after repeated exposure. The most important mycotoxins in terms of effects on health are the aflatoxins, ochratoxin A OTA , patulin and the Fusarium toxins. Aflatoxins are considered to be the most toxic ones and long-term low level exposure to aflatoxins has been associated with liver diseases Afum et al. Recent studies have highlighted the presence of OTA, an important secondary metabolite of several fungi belonging to the genera Penicillium and Aspergillus , in dry-cured hams and sausages of different origins Iacumin et al.

The inoculation of a P. Furthermore, Candida guilliermondii , Endomycopsis fibuliger , and P. The use of starters, particular LAB, as competitive microbiota in fermented meat products, may play a double role of inhibiting or controlling the growth of food pathogens or food spoilage microorganisms, with the consequently increased shelf-life, whilst retaining the sensory properties of the products, namely color, flavor, texture, and nutritional value Reis et al.

Furthermore, the growth of LAB in meat products may interfere with the growth of spoilage or pathogenic bacteria by competition for nutrients and living space adhesion on the product Pragalaki et al. Additionally, the role of molds, such as P. Most of these undesired fungi, belong to the genera Aspergillus , Penicillium , and Fusarium , and produce mycotoxins Sonjak et al.

In summary, the direct competition between starter cultures and potential food pathogens by competitive exclusion may be an important mechanism to restrict the growth of undesired microorganisms Di Gioia et al. Starter cultures are an important tool that contributes to ensure the safety of fermented meat products. Thus, the use of starter cultures may reduce the need for chemical additives, such as nitrites and nitrates.

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Furthermore, the lower residual levels of nitrates and nitrites detected in fermented meat products inoculated with starter cultures are due to the ability of starters to metabolize those compounds. Besides their beneficial effect on safety, which should be the main reason for their use, starters may play other important roles in fermented meat products, such as increasing the reproducibility of product characteristics between batches, shortening the manufacturing times, and improving sensory characteristics.

Although the positive effect of starters in the control or reduction of the microbiological hazards present in fermented meat products, with the concomitant reduction in the levels of biogenic amines, has been extensively studied, more studies are needed on the role of starters in controlling the content in nitrosamines or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

ML drafted the whole manuscript. MP drafted the lactic acid bacteria section of the manuscript. ME critically revised the manuscript and drafted the conclusions. All authors contributed to the writing and the critical revision of the manuscript. This work was supported by project PDR The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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