Bacteria, including some bacteria in a person’s gut, make lactic acid during fermentation. Manufacturers add lactic acid to food to extend its shelf life, although in some foods, it occurs naturally. It is most often vegan.
Moreover, food manufacturers add lactic acid to food to enhance flavor. It also acts as a gelling agent. Gelling agents thicken and stabilize foods such as jellies and other desserts.
The article will discuss what lactic acid is and why manufacturers add it to food.
Lactobacillus and Streptococcus cultures produce lactic acid through fermentation. The bacteria break down sugar to extract energy and produce lactic acid as a byproduct.
Lactic acid helps regulate pH levels and prevents the growth of microorganisms, extending shelf life.
The primary reason food manufacturers add lactic acid to food is due to its antimicrobial properties and ability to extend shelf life. It also enhances flavor.
Furthermore, food manufacturers use lactic acid in food, because it is a:
- natural additive
- curing agent
- gelling agent
- food carrier
- discoloration inhibitor
The FDA approve the use of lactic acid in most foods. However, this does not apply to infant formulas or foods.
Vegan foods that contain lactic acid include:
Some common foods that contain high levels of lactic acid and lactic acid-producing bacteria
Bacteria that produce lactic acid — for example, Lactobacillus — are a type of probiotic.
Lactic acid and the bacteria that produce it may offer some health benefits, such as:
- protection against infection
- immune system support
- increased absorption of vitamins and minerals
- antioxidant effects
Researchers found lactic acid-producing bacteria could provide several health benefits. For example, they may:
Lactic acid is a naturally occurring preservative that manufacturers add to some food products. Foods such as pickled vegetables and yogurt contain lactic acid.
Lactic acid and the bacteria that produce it may have numerous health benefits. For instance, they may boost the immune system and help protect the body against certain types of cancer.
The bacteria that produce lactic acid are a type of probiotic. Probiotics have several health benefits, including improving gut health.