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Keywords:

  • biosurfactants;
  • food additives;
  • bioemulsifiers;
  • thickeners;
  • solubilisers

Microbial biosurfactants with high ability to reduce surface and interfacial surface tension and conferring important properties such as emulsification, detergency, solubilization, lubrication and phase dispersion have a wide range of potential applications in many industries. Significant interest in these compounds has been demonstrated by environmental, bioremediation, oil, petroleum, food, beverage, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries attracted by their low toxicity, biodegradability and sustainable production technologies. Despite having significant potentials associated with emulsion formation, stabilization, antiadhesive and antimicrobial activities, significantly less output and applications have been reported in food industry. This has been exacerbated by uneconomical or uncompetitive costing issues for their production when compared to plant or chemical counterparts. In this review, biosurfactants properties, present uses and potential future applications as food additives acting as thickening, emulsifying, dispersing or stabilising agents in addition to the use of sustainable economic processes utilising agro-industrial wastes as alternative substrates for their production are discussed. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:1097–1108, 2013