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Health drives dairy food

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CONSUMERS are increasingly aware of the relationship between diet and health.

The functional food sector is based on this, and is expected to play an increasing role in the future mainstream diet.

The market, growing between 10-15%, represents an opportunity for food and beverage industry growth.

Chr. Hansen Australia CEO Roy Con Foo explained, “A mega trend is the effect of food on human health and well-being.”

“This will lead to continued development of functional dairy drinks based on probiotics and other health ingredients.”

The size of this market is already large and, for some products, close to maturity.

Documentation

“For a probiotic strain to be successful, it has to fulfill certain requirements,” explained Con Foo.

“It must have clinically proven health benefits.”

“Secondly, the strain should have good technological properties, such as the ability to survive in the product, and either be neutral or contribute favorably to the product.”

Chr. Hansen anticipates EU regulation of food health claims will be in place in the near future.

So providing appropriate documentation will be crucial for food producers to substantiate claims on their probiotic products.

“The number of private labels has increased and so has the need for brand owners to make their products come across as unique and credible,” Con Foo explained.

Probiotics

Over the past 20 years, more than 100 research papers on the effects of these probiotics on health, safety, and stability have been published.

“Documentation and quality are prerequisites for success in today’s business,” explained Con Foo.

“To achieve long term success, quality has two key perspectives: every delivery of our products must meet specifications; and equally important, our products must consistently provide the benefits our customers expect.”

“We can expect new products with probiotics in the mass market.”

“Probiotics will be applied in other beverages such as fruit juices, water, soya based drinks and fermented vegetable juices.”

“These products may be heat treated after fermentation - to prevent changes caused by post acidification of traditional fermentation cultures - and the probiotics will be added subsequently giving the health benefits of probiotic yoghurt drinks and very high stability.”

“The concept can be used for all kinds of chilled drinks,” explained Con Foo, “which can now be produced on aseptic and UHT-plants, as well as ordinary pasteurising plants”.

“Scientists and food producers all over the world have tried to solve this problem for a long time, but without much luck until now.”

Products with reduced fat are increasingly popular.

However, to produce appealing, tasteful and low fat products is not as easy as it might sound, since it’s not just about reducing the fat content, the whole recipe must be altered to get a good product.

Fat gives taste, ‘mouth-feel’ and can cover unwanted flavours such as acidity, metallic or other off notes.

Ingredients

Chr. Hansen worked intensively to develop ingredients for low-fat dairy products, including cultures for fermented products and aromas for cheese, dips and dressings.

“Standard yoghurts and fermented probiotic products contain around 3.5 % milk fat.”

“When fat content is reduced to less than 0.5%, you lose a large part of the ‘mouth-feel’.”

The first low-fat yoghurts were stabilized using gelatin or modified starch stabilizes for creamy ‘mouth-feel’.

However, they produced a pudding-like texture when gelatin was used or a sandy mouth feel with starch.

Cultures that produce exopolysaccharide are a good alternative, giving a natural mouth feel without the off-taste stabilizers have.

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