Cell survival, cellular damage, and antagonistic activity were investigated after spray-drying of four bacteriocin-producing strains of lactic acid bacteria: Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis 140, isolated from natural whey culture and producing a narrow-inhibitory spectrum bacteriocin); L. lactis subsp. lactis G35, isolated from pizza dough and producing nisin; Lactobacillus curvatus 32Y and Lactobacillus sp. 8Z, isolated from dry sausages. Trials were performed with bacteria suspended in skimmed milk or directly grown in whey. Three air temperatures at the inlet of the drier (160, 180, and 200°C) and three flow rates (10, 13, and 17 ml/min) were assayed. Cell viability and bacteriocin activity of the dried materials were determined immediately after the process and after 5, 15, 30, and 60 days of storage at 4°C. There was no significant difference between the two feeding suspensions in cell survival, always decreasing with the increase of inlet-air temperature. No loss of bacteriocin activity was detected in reconstituted powders, nor was any loss of ability to produce bacteriocin found after drying. Investigations of sensitivity to NaCl revealed only temporary damage to dried bacteria. During storage for 2 months at 4°C, all samples, but mainly the lactococcal strains, displayed a gradual decrease in cell survival. Bacteriocin activity remained at the same level, allowing powders to be considered as effective biopreservatives.

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