Issue 36

Milk proteins enable less salt in processed cheese

Arla Foods Ingredients rises to the low-salt challenge

Salt reduction is on many people’s lips, and now Arla Foods Ingredients can contribute to the healthy trend with functional milk proteins for reduced-salt processed cheese.

The new solutions cut the salt content of spreadable, block and sliced processed cheese and cheese sauce by at least 50%, while maintaining emulsification and sensory qualities. Processing is also optimised, eliminating the need for creaming and speeding up production overall.“The salt-reduction capability of our functional milk proteins is well documented. What is new is that we have applied this capability to specific processed cheese applications in line with growing awareness of salt consumption and demand for sodium reduction in processed foods,” says Claus Andersen, cheese application group manager.

Removing hidden salt 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends an adult consumption level of maximum 5g of salt a day. Among Western populations, average daily consumption is currently around 8-12g. More than two-thirds of the salt consumed is concealed in processed foods, such as cheese, making it difficult for consumers to cut their intake, WHO claims.
With their strong emulsification properties, Arla Foods Ingredients’ blends of selected milk protein fractions replace the emulsifying salts traditionally used in processed cheese manufacture to obtain the desired, stable texture. At the same time, the creaming step – where emulsification takes place in conventional processing – is no longer required, cutting processing time by up to an hour.

Quality at less expense
Additional benefits include a series of cost optimisation opportunities and the possibility for fat simulation, producing high quality, light processed cheeses. “Apart from reducing salt, our solutions enable natural cheese content to be cut from 65% to somewhere between 20% and 40%. Dairy fat may be replaced with vegetable fat, and the high water-binding capacity allows a reduction in protein content,” Andersen states.“In deep-fried processed cheese snacks, functional milk proteins can further be used to adjust melting properties – an advantage not available when using natural cheese.”  

Strong business prospects
Interest in the solutions is already high, Andersen adds. As global consumption continues to rise, processed cheese manufacture accounts for around 12% of all natural cheese production. New markets, notably in parts of Asia, and new innovations have heightened the business prospects.