The Key to Stability

Ted Benic, dairy program manager at TIC Gums Inc., presented prospects for stabilizer systems in dairy products. Although they are a micro-ingredient, stabilizers play a crucial role in the processing, body, texture, shelflife and distribution of dairy products.

Traditional dairy products, including cream cheese, cottage cheese, buttermilk and cream, use stabilizers. But products that go beyond the norm are presenting new challenges; yogurts, frozen desserts, flavored beverages and smoothies with functional or novelty status are constantly being developed in the ever-changing industry. In addition to new formulations, the packaging and handling of even standard dairy line products has created issues. Standards of Identity (SOI) should be reviewed when considering certain hydrocolloids and emulsifiers; legal uses and use limits often are identified in a dairy SOI.

Traditional gums include guar, locust bean, xanthan, cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, carrageenan, pectin, agars, alginates, propylene glycol alginates, gelatin, starches and methylcellulose. Conventional emulsifiers comprise mono and diglycerides, polysorbates, lecithin, egg yolks, propylene glycol monoesters and sodium steroyl lactylate. Also important are stabilizing aids like citrates, phosphates, neutralizers and sulfates.

Stabilizer formulas continue to evolve with the demands of new and existing products, even though we see little change in ingredient declarations. A stabilizer system often is a blend of traditional gums with emulsifiers and stabilizing aids, depending on the characteristics needed in the formula.

For example, considerations in frozen desserts might include low total solids, high levels of protein, unique sugar blends and balance, flavors and inclusions. Flavored milks and beverages can be low- or no-fat, reduced-sugar or -carbohydrate, have increased nutritional value, and present issues of suspension, freeze/thaw and shelf stability. Because of all these variables, dairy manufacturers need to know what stabilizers can and cannot do in their applications. For instance, stabilizers cannot mask off-flavors, correct manufacturing problems involving equipment or provide nutritional enhancement.

The order of adding ingredients may be more important than the ingredients themselves. A multitude of gum and emulsifier systems may be employed to handle the many internal and external influences that make up dairy product formulation. Stabilizer system formulators must well understand the challenges in order to create and improve on these dairy products.

“Stabilizer Challenges in Formulating Dairy Products,” Frances Bowman, TIC Gums Inc., fbowman@,

Formulation Challenge: Dairy Novelty Products

Information on formulating dairy products with polyols was presented by Clement O. Opawumi, senior food scientist at SPI Polyols.

With an obesity epidemic plaguing the nation, the need for healthier dairy food products that remain palatable has forced manufacturers to shift objectives. Formulating good-tasting dairy products has become increasingly complex because consumers are demanding more choices for healthier diets. They want products that contain higher levels of proteins, lower levels of sugar and calories and added nutrients. No-sugar-added (NSA) dairy products have been niche items in the market for the past 15 to 20 years, but have gained popularity in the past several years due to interest in low-carbohydrate diets.

One way of lowering the carbohydrate in dairy products is by formulating or replacing the sugars in the formulation with sugar alcohols (polyols). What are polyols, and what is their functionality in dairy products? Polyols are carbohydrate derivatives that contain only hydroxyl groups as functional groups. Polyols are metabolized in a different manner than traditional sugars or carbohydrate polymers--they are not fully metabolized by the human body, and they are less glycemic (resulting in lower blood sugar increases) than sugars, making them suitable for diabetics.

But formulators must be careful, since not all polyols are created equal. When formulating dairy products, choosing the correct sugar alcohol (e.g., sorbitol, maltitol, lactitol or erythritol) system with correct functional attributes is important. Each sugar alcohol has different sweetness levels, physical properties and laxation levels. Choosing the correct ingredient(s) depends on a variety of factors.

In dairy products, sugar replacers contribute to texture, mix viscosity, solubility and mouthfeel, balancing total solids and calorie reduction. An ideal sucrose replacer would provide sweetness, freezing point depression, flavor enhancement, solubility, crystallization and bulk, and have processing parameters similar to sucrose. Polyols have sweetness levels equal to or less than sucrose, and they provide excellent bulk where high-potency sweeteners do not. For example, maltitol syrup is excellent in no-sugar-added ice cream formulations. It meets all of the above-mentioned criteria and was shown in consumer studies to make no-sugar-added ice cream taste as good as its full-sugar counterpart.

Overall, today's food scientists have the tools to formulate high-energy foods with low sugar levels and a reduced glycemic response, but they need to consider the chemical and physical properties necessary in their formulations.

“Formulating Dairy Products with Polyols,” Ron Deis, SPI Polyols Inc.,,

Say Cheese

David Burrington, director of marketing/dairy for Chr. Hansen, presented helpful information on flavoring potential in natural and processed cheese products.

Cheese production in the U.S. has changed dramatically since the first modern plant was built in Wisconsin during the middle of the 19th century. During the early 20th century, the FDA promulgated Standards of Identity (SOI) for cheese that defined composition and acceptable ingredients. Today, the distinction between natural cheese and processed cheese (and between SOI and non-SOI products) continues to decrease with adoption and acceptance of new technologies.

Consumers continually demand new flavors and functionality in their cheese, and manufacturers constantly seek new ways to enhance the value of their product. Significant amounts of natural cheese are further processed--particularly cheddar, mozzarella and Swiss--leading to improved ways of delivering desired characteristics to consumers.

Cheese flavor is a powerful ingredient in any new product. Manufacturers often streamline operations and look to ingredient suppliers as a source of new ideas and value creation. There are a number of tools for creating and modifying the flavor of a cheese including cultures, adjuncts, enzyme flavors and seasonings.

Natural (SOI) cheese starts with milk and a standard make procedure. Manufacturers of natural cheese often seek specialty flavors, so they add seasonings or enhance traditional cheese flavors with cultures, enzymes and flavors.

Processed cheese is a formulated food, which may or may not start with milk, may or may not use traditional SOI production methods, and often is flavored with seasonings and specialty cheese flavors.

Natural flavor systems for cheeses include enzyme-modified cheese (EMC), enzyme-modified cream or butter oil; cheese, cream and butter flavors; fermented and cultured flavors like starter distillate; and reaction and compounded flavors.

Seasonings also are used to create distinctive cheese products imparting flavor, color and functional properties. Both liquid and dry seasonings come in both standard and customized blends.

Working with a reliable vendor that has the knowledge of each of these technical details will allow cheese manufacturers and marketers to increase the value of their product in the marketplace.

“Unlocking the Potential for Flavor in Natural and Processed Cheese,” Nachi Adaikalavan, Chr. Hansen,,