10 July 1998

Diet for spreadability

SPREADABLE butter is the first in a range of products that could be produced from milk through manipulating cow diets, thanks to MAFF-funded research at ADAS Bridgets, Hants.

Speaking at a show seminar, ADAS research director Bridget Drew said that other potential products included naturally soft ice-cream, healthier cheddar cheese, cream and dairy desserts, and improved quality chocolate.

Those could be produced by altering fat production in the milk. Producers could benefit by targeting milk composition to meet buyers needs and securing a competitive edge in the market.

Research so far had allowed fat percentage to be reduced to provide a semi-skimmed milk directly from the cow, she said.

"We are now confident that milk fat percentage can be changed dramatically by modifying the diet over a period of two weeks."

Milk protein could be altered independently of milk fat to benefit cheese makers through feeding by-pass protein and by-pass starch feeds. Further work had increased the proportion of unsaturated fatty acids in milk, thought to be beneficial to human health, while vitamin E had been used in cow diets to increase milk shelf life.

Future MAFF-funded research would focus on reducing undesirable fatty acids in milk and increasing those thought beneficial, added Dr Drew.