Bread waste destined for dumpsters can be used as a medium for cultivating microbial starters for the food industry. Likewise, repurposing the discarded dough from bread production can feed the microorganisms needed to set up fermentation in food industries such as bakeries, dairy and wine-making, found a new study from the University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy. Bread loss is preventable at several stages throughout the supply chain and considerably contributed to worldwide food waste. Meanwhile, innovative bioprocessing technologies may be the key to unraveling the burden of food waste, the study further highlights.

“Small bakeries, which represent a big portion of the market, do not use microbial starters. Most of the time, they have sourdoughs passed on for generations and for them, it would be easier to dispose of their surplus. That is why this research presents an opportunity to establish new business opportunities and cooperation among all the players in the supply chain,” the study’s first author Michela Verni, PhD student at University of Bari Aldo Moro, shares with FoodIngredientsFirst.

The goal of the study was to create a wasted bread medium (WBM) that would match or beat current bread production methods that rely on raw materials. Verni and her colleagues experimented with more than 40 different kinds of growing conditions to find the best combination for various bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms used in food fermentation. They discovered a selected formulation that uses 50 percent waste bread that was appetizing to a wide variety of microorganisms, including bacteria used in yogurt production and wine-making. Crucially, they estimate that the production cost of WBM is about a third of conventional ingredients.

“The process is straightforward. Just like for the human body, water, carbohydrates and proteins are the main sources necessary to microbial life and bread already contains starch and proteins. To get to the final medium, we only need to add water, food-grade enzymes to breakdown the big molecules into ready-to-use compounds, and few more supplements to be sure there is a balanced ratio between all the components,” Verni explains.