The move could result in a new generation of probiotics suitable for a wide range of products, from dairy through to cereal and snacks. Probiotics are live bacterial strains that are generally understood to deliver digestive benefits in the gut. According to Chr Hansen, the new technology works by removing lactic acid online during the fermentation process. Lactic acid, explains the firm's director of process development Lars Hinrichsen, normally prevents the growth of bacteria, so if this is removed during fermentation then the gut-friendly bacteria will keep growing. "Within our business it has always been the Holy Grail to remove lactic acid," Hinrichsen told FoodNavigator.com. "This will allow us to get more bacteria out of a process, and we will be able to have a more flexible production capacity." The technology is expected to also allow for modifications to the characteristics of bacteria. "We think there's a good chance that we can use it to make bacteria cells more robust and longer lasting. This would mean better probiotics in the market, products that are better able to survive within foods," said Hinrichsen. Developed and patented by Danish firm Jurag Separation A/S, the specialized filtration technology is not being used by anyone else for potential food and beverage applications, he said. Chr Hansen, which has entered a collaboration with the firm allowing it to use its technology, says it is to start testing and maturing the process on an industrial scale. The company expects this to take three to five years, after which point it hopes to commence production of food cultures using the equipment. "Today we already have quite good products for the dairy industry, so this technology will probably be used for newer areas, such as cereals, beverages and energy bars. Only imagination can create limits to the potential uses for these products," said Hinrichsen. According to Knud Vindfeldt, Chr Hansen's executive vice president, Cultures & Enzymes, "we always look out for new opportunities and new technologies to support innovation and development". "We see this as a revolution within the fermentation technology, and we expect to expand, develop and boost our production of cultures and at the same time engage in unique product development of products that could reach the global consumers in 3-5 years." "We are entering fairly unknown ground here. The need for investments is big - and the results are yet unknown, but we are optimistic about it," he said.