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Then, based on the available body of knowledge and intended use, only such tests as are useful will be necessary before attributing ‘qualified presumption of safety’ status.

Fermentation (or bioprocessing) has been used to produce a wide range of foods and food ingredients ever since the earliest recorded food preservation by humans.

Grown on glucose as a carbon source, lactobacilli may be homofermentative (producing more than 85% lactic acid) or heterofermentative (producing lactic acid, carbon dioxide, ethanol, and/or acetic acid in equimolar amounts).

The genus ( Kandler & Weiss, 1986 ), taking account of the increased number of known species, reorganizes the nomenclature into three groups: I (obligate homofermentative), II (facultative heterofermentative) and III (obligate heterofermentative).

The use of molecular methods has revolutionized identification, improving its quality and efficacy.

Based on this synthesis, we propose a new, unified approach to safety assessment for both food and feed and suggest a suitable decision tree for safety requirements.

Unambiguous identification of lactobacilli is a prerequisite for risk assessment ( Danan, 2004 ).

Current regulations for feed seem likely to have a direct influence on those for food, which is not so far regulated to the same degree.

Our purpose here is to review and update data on lactobacilli for food and feed purposes: the genus, its long history of use, its biotope and biodiversity (focusing specifically on its probiotic use), the associated biological hazard and the European regulatory framework (focusing on the guidelines for safety assessment).

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