Numerous strains of lactic acid bacteria associated with food systems are capable of producing bacteriocins, or antibacterial proteins with activity against foodborne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium botulinum. Recently, considerable emphasis has been placed on the identification of these proteins and their biochemical properties, including spectrum of activity, production conditions, purification procedures, amino acid composition, amino acid sequence, and modes of action. Advances in genetic engineering techniques have facilitated the characterization of these proteins at. the genetic level, providing information on hydropathic index, protein synthesis and structure, immunity determinants for resistance and/or tolerance, and cloning of bacteriocin genes into other organisms. Prior to the utilization of bacteriocins and/or the producer organism in food systems, a thorough understanding of the physical, biochemical, and genetic properties is required. Additional parameters for use of bacteriocins and bacteriocin-producing organisms in food systems also are discussed.

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