The scientists concentrated on 43 fecal samples of healthy infants up to 6 months old. The samples were taken from diapers, mostly provided by midwives in support groups for new parents.
The two kinds of bacteria used most often in probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are far more abundant in infant poop than in adult excrement. In addition, "infant feces are natural samples, easy to obtain," Jofré said.
The scientists tried fermenting six batches of sausages using three strains of bacteria found in baby poop and three other, commercial probiotic strains of bacteria. Studies they had done in the past established the strains they used from infant excrement were safe for people.
Specifically, the investigators made "fuet," a kind of Mediterranean fermented pork sausage commonly found in Catalonia in northeastern Spain. It resembles the Spanish fermented sausage known as "chorizo," although fuet does not contain paprika like chorizo does and is also usually shorter, thinner, less acidic and less fatty. (The sausages the researchers made had no feces in them, only bacteria cultured from the poop.)
Only one of the six strains of bacteria became the main, dominant microbes within the sausages: one of the strains from infant feces. In fact, this strain grew "to levels of 100 million cells per gram of sausage," Jofré said, "enough to produce health-promoting effects to people."
Moreover, professional tasters confirmed all the sausages tasted like regular fuet, even though all were healthier, low-fat, low-salt versions. The scientists detailed their findings in the February issue of the journal Meat Science.
The scientists tried their creations as well.
"We ate them, and they tasted very good," Jofré told LiveScience.
Future research needs to confirm if this strain of bacteria actually has probiotic effects. "Meanwhile, they can be used for the production of tasty fermented sausages," Jofré said.
No companies are currently interested in commercializing these sausages, Jofré noted.
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