CHICAGO — When it comes to simple formulations, dairy products dominate the packaged foods sector. With minimal processing along with the addition of just a few, yet powerful ingredients — cultures and enzymes — fluid milk may be converted into many different products, including cheese, sour cream, yogurt and other fermented dairy foods.
Cultures and enzymes are the behind-the-scenes workhorses that allow for the development of a diverse range of dairy products. This is because culture strains and enzyme structures are very specific and function as taste, texture, mouthfeel and shelf life modifiers. With simple declarations on ingredient statements, they complement today’s clean label trend.
“Cultures and enzymes should be, and are in our experience, a key consideration when revamping an ingredient label,” said Mark Cornthwaite, marketing leader — dairy, DuPont Nutrition & Health, New Century, Kas. “Our research shows that these components of a label are viewed as clean by consumers and some can also help deliver label claims that encourage a consumer to pick the product off the shelf. The clearest example of this is using an enzyme to reduce the amount of sugar in a product.”
Enzymes as processing aids
Enzymes serve as processing aids, meaning they have no technical or functional effect in the finished food and are present at insignificant levels in the finished food. They serve various functions in dairy foods processing, most notably breaking down lactose in lactose-free milk manufacturing.
“Our functional ingredients team continually works to tweak enzyme systems in order to solve applications challenges,” said Chris Limmex, technical sales — enzymes, Kerry, Beloit, Wis. “One example is with lactase. We are able to reduce added sugar content up to 25% in dairy products such as chocolate milk and yogurt. When paired with our flavor modulator technology and taste solutions, we can further reduce sugar and deliver sugar-reduced dairy without an impact to taste or texture.”
Lactase converts lactose in dairy to galactose and glucose. This enables the processor to reduce the amount of added sugars and still achieve the same degree of sweetness in lactose-free dairy products. This also allows for more attractive product labels with claims of reduced added sugars.
Understanding dairy cultures