Food Production: Micro-organisms

Food Production: Micro-organisms

Microbial Fermentation

  • Fermentation is a metabolic process where microorganisms decompose materials, often to generate products such as alcohol or organic acids.
  • It is a common method in food production, used in the preparation of foods like bread, yogurt, cheese, and beer.
  • Yeast, a type of fungus, is typically used in bread and beer manufacturing, as it converts sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol.
  • In cheese and yogurt manufacturing, bacteria convert lactose, a sugar in milk, into lactic acid which coagulates protein, resulting in the required texture.

Single Cell Protein (SCP)

  • Single cell protein (SCP) refers to protein-rich microbial biomass that can be used as a food source.
  • Microorganism species used in the production of SCP include algae, yeast, and fungi.
  • SCPs can be grown on various substrates, including waste materials, offering efficient protein production and waste reduction opportunities.
  • Potential risks include the presence of harmful by-products or toxins, requiring careful monitoring and quality control.


  • Probiotics are bacteria that are beneficial to digestion.
  • They are often added to yoghurts or taken as dietary supplements to enhance gut health.
  • These beneficial microorganisms can inhibit harmful bacteria and enhance the body’s immune response.
  • However, the efficacy of probiotics can vary widely based on strain and dosage, and their health benefits are subject to ongoing research.


  • Quorn is a high-protein, low-fat, meat substitute made from a type of fungus (Fusarium venenatum).
  • The fungi culture is fermented, then the biomass is separated and dried to create a dough-like substance.
  • The substance is then textured, flavoured and coloured to create the finished product.
  • Despite its benefits, some individuals may have an intolerance or allergy to this product.


  • Bioremediation involves the use of microorganisms to remove pollutants from the environment.
  • Certain bacteria and fungi can metabolise harmful substances, turning them into less harmful compounds.
  • This method is increasingly employed to clean up oil spills and polluted water, as well as remediating contaminated soil.
  • While it can be effective, the process can be slow, and not all pollutants are fully broken down. It also requires appropriate disposal of the resulting biomass.