Article: Research Leads the Whey -- September 2009
The DMI-sponsored National Dairy Foods Research Center Program works with manufacturers to find new ways to address unmet consumer demand for dairy and dairy-based products, and provides technical assistance to facilitate innovative uses of dairy foods and ingredients. Each center has a specialized dairy pilot plant and other facilities for research on dairy ingredients and products. Expert resources are available to assist food and beverage manufacturers in product prototype development, product and process troubleshooting, product and process scale-up, and sensory evaluation.
“Researchers are making great advancements to provide a variety of whey protein products for wider use in the marketplace,” says Raj Narasimmon, Ph.D., vice president of product research for DMI. “We are discovering ways to modify the whey protein to exhibit different desired properties for use by manufacturers.” The research is exploring heat stability, ways to improve the flavor of whey protein and different ways of separating the whey proteins out of milk or whey to create whey protein fractions. To view the online National Dairy Foods Research Center Program guide, go to www.innovatewithdairy.com/researchresources.
An important requirement for application of foam in food and beverage products is its stability characteristics. Products often require highly stable foam, such as whipped toppings, frozen desserts, meringues, cakes and mousses. Research is focusing on how whey proteins function in foaming. Whey proteins contribute to foam stability by several different mechanisms, says North Carolina State University’s Foegeding. “First, they absorb at the interface and form an elastic film that resists breakage and shrinking, slowing down the destabilizing process of coalescence. When they absorb at the interface, it lowers interfacial tension, which can be viewed as the resistance of air and water to mix. This allows for smaller bubbles to be produced, which in turn produces more stable foam.”
SIDEBARHitting the Mark with Flavors in Beverages
MaryAnne Drake, Ph.D., professor at North Carolina State University (Raleigh) and director of the DMI Sensory Applications Lab at the Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center, works directly with manufacturers to design specific sensory and/or volatile component tests to pinpoint and quantitatively and objectively evaluate problems and identify solutions. Part of her research is addressing whey protein and astringency in beverages.
“Flavor and flavor consistency remain critical issues in whey proteins for widespread usage,” she said. “Our research has identified several general whey protein processing steps relevant to food and beverage manufacturers that directly influence flavor and flavor stability of whey protein.” Research has focused on whey protein removal from milk prior to cheese-making, creating what is referred to as native whey proteins. Native whey proteins are not exposed to enzymes or other additives from the cheese-making procedure, leading to a number of potential benefits in formulations, including improved composition, physical properties and improved flavor.