Australia

Size matters when it comes to dairy innovation

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

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Fat globules are the secret to creating low-fat cream that’s easier to whip, cold butter that’s more spreadable and dairy cream powders that can be tailored for a range of products from milk to cheese to yoghurts.

That's according to a University of Queensland research team that is pioneering techniques to create innovative dairy products with relatively small capital investment. 

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Bhesh Bhandari

Led Bhesh Bhandari of the university’ School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, the team are exploiting technologies such as nanoemulsions—emulsified oil and water systems with droplets ranging in the billionths of a metre—which have been gaining popularity in the pharmaceutical industry.

Fat globules in milk came in various sizes, with each size class able to be used to improve specific dairy products,​” Professor Bhandari said.

Our latest findings reveal that small fat globules impart an amazing stability to cream and give cold butter softer texture and improved spreadability.​”

PhD student Pramesh Dhungana said the UQ team had developed procedures using a modified commercial cream separator to separate native milk fat globules into various size ranges without damaging the droplet integrity.

The benefit of using the existing dairy equipment is that it can be readily applied to the dairy industry with some modifications,​” he said

We expect this innovative approach can be used to increase the whippability of low fat cream and to manufacture functional cream powder for use in recombined liquid milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter making​.”

Dhungana’s colleague, Bhavesh Panchal, is downsizing creams into nanometric size ranges and using the resultant nano-sized creams in butter making at the university.

This will help in introducing further desirable properties in low fat butter or fat spreads​,” he said.

We can’t wait to learn about consumer responses to the taste and flavour of nano-sized butter in the later stages of the project​.”

Sally Gras, director of the Australian Research Council’s Dairy Innovation Hub, said the capabilities developed by the nanoemulsions team had the potential to allow production of innovative dairy ingredients, providing the Australian industry with a competitive advantage.

This is a great outcome for the dairy industry, as these innovations could boost the sale of dairy fat products, potentially increasing the return on investment to dairy manufacturers​,” she said.

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