Fortifying Cheddar

May 13/Food & Farm Week -- "The objective of this study was to fortify 50% reduced-fat Cheddar cheese with n-3 fatty acids and evaluate whether this fortification generated specific off-flavors in the cheese. Docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) fatty acids were added to the cheese to obtain three final fortification levels [18mg, 35mg and 71mg of DHA/EPA per serving size (28g) of cheese] representing 10%, 20% and 40% of the suggested daily intake level for DHA/EPA," scientists writing in the Journal of Dairy Science report.

"The presence of oxidized, rancid and fishy flavors as a function of fortification level and cheese aging (six months) was evaluated using a sensory descriptive panel. No differences were found in the oxidized and rancid flavors as a consequence of DHA/EPA fortification, with only slight intensities of these flavors. The presence of fishy off-flavor was dependent on the fortification level. Cheeses with low fortification levels (18mg and 35mg of DHA/EPA per serving size) did not develop significant fishy off-flavor compared with the control, whereas at the highest fortification level (71mg of DHA/EPA per serving size), the fishy off-flavor was significantly stronger in young cheeses. The fishy flavor decreased as a function of age and became nonsignificant compared with the control at three months of storage. Even though fishy flavors were detected in the fortified cheeses, the DHA/EPA content during storage remained constant and complied with the suggested values for food fortification," wrote S. Martini and colleagues, Utah State University.

The researchers concluded, "Results obtained from this research indicate that 50% reduced-fat Cheddar cheese aged for three months can be used as a vehicle for delivery of n-3 fatty acids without generation of off-flavors."

Martini and colleagues published their study in the Journal of Dairy Science ("Fortification of Reduced-fat Cheddar Cheese with n-3 Fatty Acids: Effect on Off-flavor Generation." Journal of Dairy Science,/i>, 2009;92(5):1876-1884).

Additional information can be obtained by contacting S. Martini, Utah State University, Western Dairy Center, Dept. of Nutrition & Food Science, Logan, UT 84322.

From the May 26, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition