Cultured Dextrose is the technical labeling term for products that contain fermentates, or antimicrobial substances produced from the fermentation of dextrose. Cultured dextrose is added to foods as a preservative or antimicrobial substance. Cultured dextrose can be found in sauces, dressings, pasta, deli salads, baked goods and various dairy products. It also can be used as a preservative in meats and flavored dairy drinks. The commercial product is called Microgard®, which is produced by the international company, Danisco. Cultured dextrose is effective in preventing growth of spoilage Gram-negative bacteria, yeasts, and molds. Certain formulations of cultured dextrose are effective in preventing the growth of food pathogens, such as, Listeria in hot dogs. It can be used to replace chemical preservatives such as, sorbate, benzoate, and lactate.
Cultured dextrose is a flavorless powder that can be easily added to foods. Because it is treated as a novel ingredient, only cultured dextrose must legally be declared on the label. This term, however, doesn’t accurately describe this ingredient. It can be confusing for the label conscious person who is monitoring the ingredients they consume. To credit Danisco, they lucked out by getting such a neutral labeling term for their product.
Other Use and Industries
No specific non-food uses were noted for cultured dextrose in the literature. This food ingredient was designed specifically for use as a preservative in foods.
Cultured dextrose or more specifically, the family of MicroGARD® products are generally regarded as safe (GRAS status). The metabolites or fermentates produced by Propionibacterium freudenreichii are safe, and actually are natural products. We probably already consume these metabolites in the many naturally fermented foods we eat. The only difference with these products is that the metabolites are concentrated, mixed with a carrier (maltodextrose) and added to foods that are not typically fermented. It is the same as adding the benefits of fermented foods to non-fermented products. Using cultured dextrose to replace chemical preservatives is another benefit as many preservatives are under much scrutiny.
The food safety aspect or preservative effect of cultured dextrose is a great health benefit. Its proven effectiveness in preventing or slowing growth of food pathogens, such as, Listeria is a great health benefit.
The negative side of cultured dextrose is that the true identity of the product is hidden behind a general labeling term that doesn’t accurately describe the ingredient. Marketing agendas and lobbyists most likely influenced the labeling regulations of this product. But even though this is the case, the fact that this is a natural preservative negates any bad marketing tricks.
Cultured dextrose or Microgard®, is produced by the fermentation of dextrose (non-dairy product) or skim milk with a bacteria called Propionibacterium freudenreichii. The metabolites produced during this fermentation; a mixture of natural acids, propionic and lactic, plus some antimicrobial peptides, are spray dried and mixed with maltodextrin as a carrier.