Numerous foods owe their characteristics to the activity of microorganisms. Fermented foods (foods subjected to the activity of microorganisms or enzymes) comprise about one-third of world-wide food consumption and 20-40% (by weight) of individual diets. Foods included in this category include mushrooms, soy sauce, wine, fermented milk, cheese, beer, bread, sourdough bread, fermented meats, fish sauce, pickled vegetables and tea.
Benefits of fermentation include enhanced safety through acid and alcohol production; production of bacteriocins; and removal of toxic components. Nutritional value also can be enhanced through fermentation along with improved digestibility and flavor.