A small change in the intact casein levels of processed cheese can lead to “significant variability” in finished product quality, industry research has found.
The Influence of Intact Casein in Processed Cheese, which was published by Australia-based food equipment manufacturer Gold Peg, discovered that the maturity – or more specifically the intact casein content - of the naturally-produced cheese used to manufacture processed cheese contributes significantly to finished product quality.
Casein makes up about 80% of the proteins found in cow’s milk. It is found in varying levels in naturally-produced cheeses.
Geld Peg conducted its research at the Fonterra Research Centre in New Zealand following requests from customers.
Its research showed how even a small change in intact casein levels resulted in a change in the viscosity, firmness, fracture stress and the general quality of the cheese.
Quality and efficiency
“It is well known that ingredient variability is a major factor in the quality and cost of processed cheese,” said the Gold Peg research paper.
“For processed cheese makers, quality and efficiency are keys to profitability and the ability to compete. The biggest challenge to these is managing the variability of natural cheese.”
During its research, Gold Peg tested cheese of varying maturity to create formulations over a range of intact casein with consistent composition.
According to the firm, intact casein levels in naturally-produced cheese generally vary between zero and 18%. This range splits the cheeses into three categories – young, medium and mature – each with a range of approximately 6%.
Researchers discovered that a 1% increase in levels of intact casein levels from 7.5% to 8.5% resulted in a change of 154cp (8%) in viscosity, a 126g (11%) change in firmness, and a 2745Pa (10%) change in fracture stress.
“These results show that the percentage of intact casein strongly influences the behavior of processed cheese during manufacture and the quality of the finished product,” said the paper.
“The intact casein percentage of your formulation strongly influences the functionality and physical behavior of your finished product and the viscosity of your product during manufacture,” it concluded.
Measure intact casein
Earlier this year, Gold Peg launched its Caseus Pro software – a tool that enables processed cheese manufacturers to measure rather than predict the function protein (intact casein) content of cheese.
“Measuring the intact casein content in the natural cheese ingredients allows you to control the intact casein in your finished processed cheese, which is directly related to the quality and functionality of your process cheese,” Caseus Pro project manager Andrew Henderson told DairyReporter.com at the time.