New Dairy Directions

June 21, 2008

12 Min Read
New Dairy Directions

Be it from yak, goat or cow, milk as a foodstuff has been around nearly as long as man. Even commercial products are not new. Powdered milk was developed in the early 1800s, and evaporated milk is more than 100 years old. With such a well-established category, what could possibly be new?

Fortunately for the food scientist, dairy continues to innovate.

Power of proteins

Whey protein is showing up in a variety of mainstream categories, says Kara McDonald, director of ingredient marketing and communications, Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, IL. In the past, it has been overdeveloped around young and active males, but it is now becoming more mainstream and popular among women.

Whey proteins branched-chain amino acids stimulate muscle-building synthesis following exercise. Increased muscle tissue decreases body fat. Whey protein isolate (WPI) is often used in drinks, because it can deliver a clear end product, McDonald notes.

With whey, customization is key to diverse use. For example, cold-membrane-processed MPI (CM-MPI), produced by Protient, Inc., St. Paul, MN, is unique in its physicochemical properties. CM-MPI retains the physical and biological functionalities of both undenatured whey proteins and casein micelles, says Ewan Ha, Ph.D., vice president of technology, Protient. The product also retains most of milks calcium, he says. Therefore, any nutritional and RTD beverage products containing more than 5 grams of CM-MPI per serving can be labeled as a good source of calcium.

Ha notes that CM-MPI shows excellent solubility, heat stability, dispersibility, emulsion capacity and foam stability, and has a bland, clean flavor note. With its low lactose and fat content, CM-MPI is a good choice for low-carbohydrate, low-fat, protein-fortified nutritional beverages in the neutral pH range, he notes.

An advantage of milk protein isolate (MPI) over WPI is that MPI has high heat stability and excellent solubility, although it tends to precipitate at low pH. It also has good foam and emulsion stability. Applications include beverages, ice cream, cheese, milk enhancement and protein bars.

Milk protein concentrate, once available exclusively from overseas, is becoming readily available from several U.S. manufacturers. Dessert-friendly categories for milk protein concentrates would be smoothies, protein meal bars and a chocolate-coated truffle with a milky center fortified with calcium and vitamin D, McDonald says.

Lowering fat

The movement toward lower fat and sugar reduction in dairy requires development savvy.

The trick to reducing fat is replacing its creamy mouthfeel. There are specific gels or gel systems which can mimic fat, says Joshua Brooks, vice president of sales, Gum Technology Corporation, Tucson, AZ. A blend of konjac, alginate, cellulose gel and xanthan will provide the smooth, creamy texture of fat, while also acting as a moisture binder. This would be an excellent stabilizer for a low-fat ice cream, for example, since you would also have a freeze/thaw-stable product.

Cargill Texturizing Solutions, Wayzata, MN, developed several systems centered on fiber to significantly reduce fat and protein without loss of texture and mouthfeel. These same systems can also help to make a product more healthful by reducing total fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, says Bob Loesel, technical manager, dairy applications, Cargill Texturizing Solutions.

Cream sauces are another area where cost-effective ingredients can extend dairy. CF Chefs Ingredients, Dallas, offers product used as a 1:1 replacement for 31% to 36% cream in sauces, according to Sanford Dalton, general manager, CF Chefs Ingredients. It has the same texture and mouthfeel of cream, with a stronger, more-stable emulsion, he says. It allows the product developer to reduce the fat levels of sauces, as it has about half the fat, saturated fat and trans fat of regular cream. It is also significantly lower in cholesterol than regular cream.

However, keep in mind that dairy products are subject to FDA standards of identity with minimum levels of fat and dairy solids. We are seeing some interest in nonstandard frozen desserts, where you can go outside the legal definition of ice cream and go below legal standards for fat and solids, but with the correct stabilization system, still maintain the desirable eating qualities of regular ice cream, says Loesel.

There are also ways to reduce fat and costs yet retain label terms that are familiar and appealing to consumers. If the name of a product infers that cream is in the product, then cream must remain on the label; however, a percentage of the cream could be replaced with our ingredient, Dalton says.

Transglutaminase (TG) builds structure in yogurt and cheese, and also delivers cost savings by reducing the amount of milk protein needed. In cheese processing, TG acts to bind additional whey protein within the cheese itself to enhance overall product yields, says Joe Formanek, Ph.D., associate director, business development and application innovation, Ajinomoto Food Ingredients, Chicago. In yogurt, TG maintains texture while allowing a reduction in nonfat solids.

Typical stabilizer solutions for yogurt include modified food starches, gelatin and whey protein concentrates. Starch is the major component of stirred-yogurt formulations, with usage levels between 2.0% to 2.5%, Loesel says. For cup-set applications, starch and LM (low methoxyl) pectin are used to provide body and syneresis control. Pectin is typically used at 0.10% to 0.20%. Yogurt smoothies are stabilized with starches and HM (high methoxyl) pectin to provide body and protein protection.

Juice-based smoothies require a special stabilization system, advises Tamara Reinhart, group leader, Tate & Lyle, Decatur, IL, because youre introducing an acid into a dairy system. A pectin-based system with some starch added for body is probably the ultimate thing to do to protect the protein, and also provide the viscosity in the mouth, she says.

Lesser-known gums are another option. Fenugreek gum can be used similarly to locust bean gum, or guar gum, notes Brooks. Fenugreek gum is a galactomannan and, therefore, has similar functionalities compared to these other gums. It is also excellent in cold processing and combines synergistically with xanthan gum.

For a natural or organic product, Reinhart recommends tapioca starch, among other options. Look at an organic guar gum or organic locust bean gum, especially in ice cream, she says.

In selecting a stabilizing or fat-replacement system for dairy applications, product developers need to consider several factors, including protein denaturization; whether or not the finished product is going to be frozen; moisture retention; texture; particulate suspension such as fruit pieces or other inclusions; and emulsification stability, Brooks advises.

Other factors to consider are the pH of the system, the type of ions present, fortification ingredients and levels, heat treatment, the amount of shear during process, shelf-life expectations and cost constraints, to name a few.

Sweetness counts

When lowering fat or sugar in yogurts and ice creams, Jason Perkins, applications specialist, Cargill Flavor Systems, Minneapolis, suggests additional dairy flavors to improve overall flavor appeal and to increase mouthfeel of the products. Any product that removes sugar or adds functional ingredients requires flavors that add back sweetness, mouthfeel, or mask the off notes inherent in many functional ingredient systems.

A number of options exist for sweetener selection in frozen dairy foods, notes YoungSoo Song, associate project coordinator, food applications, Roquette America, Inc., Keokuk, IA. These fall into two categories, she says. The first is conventional sweeteners and includes the usual fully caloric sugars like sucrose, dextrose, lactose and glucose syrups. The second category is for applications having healthy attributes like reduced sugar, added fiber, reduced calories, etc. This category includes a wide variety of ingredients, including most of the polyols and some soluble-fiber products. For these healthier ingredients, redesigning of the stabilizer system is not required.

Crystalline maltitol can be used as a one-to-one replacement for sucrose in better-for-you, no-sugar-added dairy ice cream where straight sucrose is normally used, Song says. Also, a variety of polyglycerols and maltitol syrups are available to replace glucose syrups and blends of glucose syrups with sucrose. Roquettes maltitol syrup is designed to facilitate the formulation of low-fat frozen dairy products by delivering desirable physical and sensory properties while providing reduced glycemic index and lower calories, she says.

High-intensity sweeteners are another option. According to Formanek, aspartame can work quite well in systems where the product is not extensively heated after aspartame addition and the pH is on the acidic side (below pH 6.0).

Reinhart notes that, while many sweetener systems work well in dairy products, in a no-sugar-added product you need to build back that bulk to replace the sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup that youre pulling out from the product, whether thats ice cream or yogurt, she says. Sometimes, a polyol sweetener can supply the bulk and get a sweetness boost from a high-intensity sweetener. Other options include maltodextrose, polydextrose, inulin and fructooligosaccharide ingredients, and because dairy products are high-moisture, gums and starches can build texture.

Sweetener consideration in ice cream is different than in cultured products. You formulate a product based on solids and freeze-point depression, Reinhart says. If youre going from a full-fat ice cream to reduced fat or reduced calories, a good way to do that is to use sucralose. Sucralose is a high-intensity sweetener to reduce calories. Then you have to build back in some bulking agents for freeze-point depression. By doing that, you can produce a product that eats the same, has less calories and tastes very similar to the traditional product that you formulated.

Functional in many forms

The inclusion of soluble fibers in probiotic ice cream and frozen desserts is a growing trend that enhances the textural and melting characteristics of refrigerated and frozen probiotic dairy products. Song says the texture of low-fat probiotic dairy products can be improved with prebiotic resistant dextrins that provide a healthy alternative for adding fiber, reducing sugars, calories and glycemic load in dairy applications. Because the ingredient is resistant to acid, it can be used in low-pH products.

Soluble corn fiber can also fortify dairy products. The usage level is going to be different from a yogurt to an ice cream to a chocolate milk, says Reinhart. Levels are usually under 5%, but its all tied to the serving size and whether the customer is trying to achieve a good source of fiber or an excellent source of fiber in a product.

An abundance of research exists concerning whey-peptide functionality. DSM Food Specialties, Delft, the Netherlands, recently launched a milk-derived tripeptide with the bioactive amino-acid sequence isoleucine-proline-proline, noted for its blood-pressure-lowering effect. In milk protein, the lactotripeptides are inactive. Although the ingredient is targeted to the supplement market, it could be used in functional foods and labeled hydrolyzed casein.

McDonald sees peptides used in infant formulas and sports-nutrition bars. Another interesting area is an isolated alpha-lactalbumin, rich in the high-quality amino acid tryptophan, she says. This amino acid has been shown in some research to improve sleep quality, morning alertness, and mood and cognitive performance under stress.

Peptide-performance research is an emerging area with more animal studies completed than large human clinical trials, says Matthew Pikosky, Ph.D., director of research transfer, National Dairy Council, Rosemont, IL. There are emerging benefits in these areas in terms of some of these peptides, which are helping to enhance immune function, decrease inflammation and actually improve blood pressure, he says.

Fermented dairy beverages containing phytosterols would be of interest to a consumer looking for a product that lowers cholesterol, says Ram Chaudhari, Ph.D., senior vice president, Fortitech, Inc., Schenectedy, NY. Phytosterols, including stanol esters, can achieve this by suppressing intestinal cholesterol absorption while partially suppressing cholesterol biosynthesis.

Milk is a fortification vehicle for vitamins A and D, so consumers should accept the addition of another healthy ingredient, omega-3s, as an added benefit, Chaudhari says. Issues surrounding omega-3-enhanced dairy products are primarily formulation challenges. Microencapsulated fish oil has solved a main formulation challengethe flavor and odor problemallowing its addition to a wide variety of foods.

Cindy Hazen, a 20-year veteran of the food industry, is a freelance writer based in Memphis, TN. She can be reached at [email protected].

Dairy Good Flavors
One key aspect of any dairy product is its flavor, whether its geared to take advantage of the trends or to provide a boost to a finished product.

Just as superfruits are pushing aside traditional favorites in many food products, so they are in dairy. Everyone has heard about the benefits of pomegranate and blueberry, but tropical superfruits like açaí, mangosteen, cupuacu and acerola are becoming increasingly popular, says Jason Perkins, applications specialist, Cargill Flavor Systems, Minneapolis. More and more yogurt flavors are pushing the envelope, using exciting new flavors that include mood-enhancing flavors like floral and fruit blends.

Cheese also is experiencing a flavor explosion. According to Marilyn Wilkinson, director, national product communications, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Madison: Natural cheeses, as compared to processed cheese, are growing in sales and popularity. In recent years, we have also seen the emergence of more specialty cheeses, not only ethnic. Hispanic is the largest growing, with queso blanco, asadero and others, but other ethnic varieties include Mediterranean varieties, like the fetas, and the Italian cheeses, such as fontinas. Another trend is the emergence of really upscale artisan cheeses, and organic and pasture-fed cows milk cheeses.

Flavors can also help with soaring dairy prices by increasing the impact and enhancing the formulas flavor. For example, Cargill has responded to dairy price volatility by developing a new line of specialty cheese flavor ingredients. Sanjay Gummalla, dairy specialist, Cargill Flavor Systems, says these ingredients deliver authentic Swiss, Romano, Parmesan, gouda and Monterey Jack cheese profiles to a range of snack crackers, sauce, soup and dairy-spread applications.

Other substitutes for commodity dairy ingredients include cream yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk and nonfat dry milk flavors. Our new cream powder is a natural, authentic, all-dairy product, says Gummalla. This product can potentially be used to enhance genuine cream or dairy notes in reduced-fat sweet goods, confectionery, ice cream and yogurt applications.

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