A natural "Super Food"
Traditional plain yoghurt is a fresh dairy product that falls in the category of fermented milks
. It is made by adding live
bacterial culture to pasteurised milk - most commonly cow, goat or sheep’s milk.
Yoghurt has been in the making since the dawn of time and is consumed throughout the world, in all its forms and varieties
. It is considered the first probiotic food, long recognised for the beneficial effects of live bacteria and its nutritional qualities. Yoghurt is considered a very versatile food, a staple in many countries and also used in traditional cuisine.
Yoghurt is defined by the Codex Alimentarius
The defining property of yoghurt is the presence of two very specific strains of live lactic acid bacteria
. All yoghurt must contain Lactobacillus bulgaricus*
and Streptococcus thermophilus**
. The action of these specific lactic acid bacteria give yoghurt its unique properties.
As the bacteria grow and multiply, they transform the milk sugar, lactose, into lactic acid, which in turn act on the milk proteins, which then solidfy and coagulate. This process of fermentation thickens the milk into yoghurt, giving it its characteristic custard-like texture and its tangy taste.
*Lactobacillus delbruekii subsp bulgaricus
First identified in 1905 by a Bulgarian doctor, and named after the country, it is one of the lactic acid bacterias used in making yoghurt and is also present naturally in other fermented milks. It is a long and filamentous bacteria.
**Streptococcus salvarius subsp. thermophilus:
A starter culture used for the manufacture of several fermented dairy foods, it is a beneficial lactic acid bacteria traditionally used with L.delbruekii subsp bulgaricus or L. helveticus. This microorganism is most commonly found in yoghurt and hard cheeses such as cheddar, emmental and gruyère. Streptococcus salvarius subsp thermophilus hydrolizes the milk protein, casein into nitrogen and contributes to the unique aroma, texture and flavour of fermented milk products. It also has a valuable role as a probiotic, reducing symptoms of lactose intolerance and gastrointestinal disorders.
These two bacteria work together symbiotically
, each producing enzymes and nutrients valuable for the growth of the other. Together they form a dynamic duo to react on milk and create a valuable and highly nutrious food
that is yoghurt. In his work “the Prolongation of Life”, Metchnikoff drew the link that the consumption of these live bacterias in the form of yoghurt had a positive impact on the gastrointestinal tract, health and longevity.
Yoghurt is the world’s first probiotic food.
| In addition to traditional, classic yoghurt, which contains the two cultures, L.bulgaricus and S. thermophilus, some yoghurt and fermented milks can also include other types of live beneficial bacteria, known to be probiotic, which contain multiple species and subspecies, generally from the Lactobacillus genera such as L. acidophilus, L. casei, or from the Bifidobacterium family, including the strains B. bifidum or B. longum. These various probiotic microorganisms deliver different health benefits when ingested in sufficient and regular quantities.
Milk based products such as yoghurt and live fermented milks are considered excellent vehicules for probiotic bacteria. The dairy base provides protection for the microoganisms in surviving the hostile and acidic environment of the stomach before journeying towards the gastrointestinal tract. The compounds found in milk are also a good source of food for the microorganisms, allowing them to thrive and mulltiply quickly.
YLFA’ members are amongst those in the industry that only validate “yoghurt” as a product that has a significant quantity of viable, live and active cultures and where yoghurt which has not been heat treated after fermentation.