Safety Aspects and Guidance for Consumerson the Safe Preparation, Handling and Storage of Kombucha — A Fermented Tea Beverage
Kombucha tea is a non-alcoholic beverage that has gained popularity in the health-food industry because of its alleged potential to optimize human health and act as a functional food. The distinctive flavors of kombucha are a result of the fermentation of sugared black tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). Recent research identifying the potential health benefits associated with kombucha, as well as the composition of the fermented beverage, will be summarized. Kombucha is available for purchase at retail outlets; however, preparation of the beverage at home has risen in popularity. The preparation of kombucha presents unique risks because of the fermentation process, and although food safety issues are not common, previous case reports of such issues associated with kombucha have been published. In this review, the steps involved in kombucha preparation are outlined, along with a discussion of the potential biological, chemical, physical and allergenic hazards associated with the preparation and consumption of kombucha at home. From a public health perspective, there is a need to address these potential hazards to provide individuals preparing kombucha at home with a scientifically based hazard assessment and guidelines for safe production of the fermented beverage.
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