Tests extend shelf-life of fresh pasta using MAP and bioprotective cultures

Italian scientists have found the novel exploitation of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) with or without the addition of bioprotective cultures (BCs) can control the microbial spoilage of fresh pasta.

The results of a study aimed at improving the microbial quality, safety, and shelf life of fresh pasta indicate that the MAP (40:60 CO2:N2), high barrier packaging, and BCs and their metabolites acted in a synergistic way to control the microbial spoilage of fresh pasta during refrigerated storage at 4°C. They also found the combination can be introduced at the industrial level giving an increase of 30 days in shelf life compared to low barrier conventional MAP packaging.

The multi-omics approach, described in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, can be applied, combined with traditional protocols, to evaluate which of the studied factors is the most influential to drive the shelf-life of fresh pasta. Even if the added BCs were not all detected by traditional protocols during storage of fresh pasta, their antimicrobials and/or fermentation products leads to quantitative and qualitative effect on the bacterial and fungal microbiota associated with pasta.

The scientists tested their new method using a thin twisted type of pasta called trofie. One set of fresh trofie was manufactured and packaged as usual. Another was manufactured conventionally but stored in experimental MAP. A third had bioprotective probiotic strains added to the dough which, once made, was stored in experimental MAP.

They used gene sequencing to identify microbial compositions and mass spectrometry to assess volatile organic compounds.

After a few months they found the triofe pasta treated with the antimicrobial bioprotective probiotics and stored in experimental MAP had the best shelf life of all three experiments.

The VOC profiling, based on gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry (GC-MS), highlighted significant differences affected by the different manufacturing and packaging of samples.

The team is encouraging additional tests aimed at setting up new protocols for the use of BCs also in other types of cereal-based products, considering the possible implication that viable microorganisms resting in foods can exert potential positive effects on the gut microbiota of consumers.

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