Cheese rS CDairy Products can be made from a variety of sources including milk from Cows, Sheep, and Goats. Unlike Cow’s milk however, Sheep and Goats produce fat globules that are very small and their milk is almost naturally homogenised. For this reason the cream layer will not separate as easily as for cow’s milk. There are a number of products available using Sheep and Goat’s milk including milk, cheese, butter and yoghurt.

For the purpose of this blog when we talk about the following dairy products, we are talking about them being sourced from cow’s milk. Whole Milk contains about 3.4-3.8% fat and there is a huge variety of reduced fat options available all at different levels of fat content. Just don’t be fooled by the marketing, check the nutritional panels on the product.

Dairy products are used in processed food for a variety of reasons. These include to add nutrition, texture, flavour, and mouthfeel. Dairy products contain fat, protein, minerals including calcium, and vitamins including vitamin A and D. Dairy products are available in a variety of forms. These are discussed below –

Milk – Milk is highly nutritious providing around 3.4% of protein, around 3.8% of fat, 4.8% of dairy sugars (lactose), vitamins and minerals. Milk contains different ratios of water, fat, vitamins, minerals, natural flavours, and sugars including Lactose (dairy sugar) dependant on the breed, feed, health and environment the cow is bred in.  The Food Standards Code, Standard 2.5.1 regulates the fat and protein levels that must be present in Whole Milk and Skim Milk products. Please see the link to the Standard 2.5.1-4 and 2.5.1-5http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx  

Milk is a natural emulsion of fat in water. When fresh milk stands for a short amount of time the fat globules separate from the remainder of the milk, rising to the surface forming the cream layer. The cream layer can be removed and is then either sold as fresh cream, or is used to manufacture butter. After separation of the cream, the milk is standardised to a specific fat content for consistency.

To prevent the cream layer from forming in whole fresh milk, the milk is put through a homogenization process which forces the milk through small openings breaking up the fat molecules into a very small particle size which is dispersed evenly through the milk. To reduce the bacterial load milk is then heat treated through a pasteurisation process involving different time and temperature combinations. Standard Pasteurization heats the milk to about 72c for 15 seconds then cools it quickly. This kills the majority of bacteria present but not all. The milk is not sterilised hence the need to refrigerate fresh milk.

UHT or Ultra Heat Treated Milk is heated to around 135c for about 1-2 seconds. All the bacteria and enzymes present are inactivated leaving the proteins and vitamins undamaged. The milk is then packed off in a sterile environment and is shelf stable for 6-9 months making it perfect to keep in the cupboard for emergencies.

In manufacturing, Fresh milk is not often used, instead whole milk powder, non-fat dried milk solids or whey powders are used. These powders are usually produced either by drum drying or spray drying. For more information on dairy products please see the following link – http://www.pauls.com.au/products/milk/

Cream Fresh liquid Cream which contains around 35-39.4g of fat per 100g is generally sold in 2 liquid forms, cream containing no additives known as Pure Cream which contains no additional ingredients, or as Whipping Cream. Whipping cream has additional ingredients added to it to aid in the formation of air bubbles during whipping and for the stability of air bubbles after whipping. These ingredients can include Gelatine (441), Mineral Salts (450, 500), Thickeners & Stabilisers (400, 407a) and Emulsifier (471). Please see the Food Additives page for more information on these ingredients. 

Canned whipped Cream is also available. This uses a propellant such as nitrous oxide to push liquid cream mixture out of the can at high pressure which aerates it. The other ingredients added can include sugar for flavour, emulsifiers to help prevent separation of the fat and liquid phases of the cream, flavours and gums for texture once aerated.

The FSANZ Food Standards Code Standard 2.5.2 overseas the regulations for cream. For more reading please see –



The other forms of dairy that we are familiar with are further processed from these two key base ingredients Milk and Cream.

Sour Cream – Sour Cream is produced from the addition of specific lactic acid bacteria’s or cultures to a blend of milk and fresh cream. The bacteria ferments the cream, thickening the product and providing the characteristic sour flavour. This is listed as Culture on the ingredient listing. You can purchase full fat versions of Sour Cream at around 36% fat to lighter versions containing around 18.5% and extra light versions at 3.1% fat depending on the brand. The lighter you go in fat, the more milk solids and gelatine are added to maintain the firmness and mouthfeel of the product. 

Butter – Butter is produced from churning fresh cream until a water in oil emulsion is formed. The fat molecules combine and the liquid separates. This liquid that comes off the butterfat is called buttermilk. Butter can be made with or without salts for flavour. Traditional uses for butter includes confectionary, bakery goods, icings, and sauces. Sold as either salted or not salted it has been replaced by hard vegetable fat substitutes in a lot of processed goods for a number of reasons including removal of the dairy allergen and cost.

Butter Milk – Butter Milk is the liquid by-product of butter manufacture once the fat is removed. It constitutes of around 80% of the starting liquid when manufacturing butter and can either be sweet or acid. These are used either in liquid form, mainly by the home cook and in powder form by manufacturers.  Buttermilk typically contains around 1-1.8g of total fat, 3.6-4.0g of Protein and can either have a sweet or acidic profile.

Other Milks

Evaporated Milk – Evaporated Milk is produced by evaporating up to 60% of the water from fresh milk to obtain a certain percentage of solids. It’s then homogenised, packed into cans and then heat sterilised for long life. The long shelf life of this product makes it a safe substitute for fresh milk in areas off the world that may not have refrigeration or a safe milk source.

Condensed Milk – Sweetened Condensed Milk is made by evaporating water from fresh milk and adding sugar. The product is canned and contains around 55-60% sugar in the finished product. The high level of sweetness allows for a longer shelf life to the product. It is used as a base for caramel bakery fillings, and desserts.

For more reading on these products please see the links below. The standard of the Food Standards Code that overseas these products is Standard 2.5.7. This contains the basic requirements these products must be manufactured to, to be sold as Dried Milk, Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk the link to which can be found below –


Cheese – Cheese has been a staple food in the human diet for thousands of years. As milk is the base, cheese is a nutrient rich food containing high levels of fat, protein, vitamins such as calcium and minerals. Cheese is produced by coagulating the casein protein found in milk by the addition of an enzyme called rennet or in some cases using acids such as lemon juice or vinegar. The solid curds are separated from liquid whey and formed into moulds to shape.

Cheeses can be made from the milk of cows, sheep, goats or buffalo and can range in texture from hard cheeses such as parmesan to soft cheeses such as camembert or cream cheese. Depending on the type of cheese to be made different bacteria and moulds can be added for flavour and to develop the rind. Some cheeses can also be made using vegetarian rennet alternatives which are sourced from fungus. Some can contain different flavours such as smoke or inclusions such as herbs and spices.

Cheese is used by processers in different formats in processed foods including slices, cubes, shredded, shaved, grated, and dried into powders etc. For more information please see the links below – 

Yoghurt – Yoghurt has been eaten by man for thousands of years and is found in a plethora of forms in your local supermarket. Yoghurt is made by adding specific bacterial yoghurt cultures to milk and cream. These cultures can include Streptococcus Thermophilus, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, and Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. Other Probiotic bacteria’s can also be used. These bacteria’s consume the natural milk sugars (Lactose) found in the milk and produce Lactic Acid as a by-product. The lactic acid causes the milk proteins to curdle giving the Yoghurt its thick texture and tangy flavour. Yoghurt is highly nutritional providing protein, vitamins and calcium. The fat content of yoghurt depends on the type of milk used (Full fat vs Skim Milk, or no fat milk) and if cream is also added.

Yoghurt products are available in regular (stirred), pot set or drinking forms. Pot set is where the bacteria is placed into the pot with the yoghurt base. It’s incubated and the Yoghurt curd sets in the pot. You can see when you take this yoghurt from the pot that the curd breaks away and a small amount of whey may also be seen. The curd and whey quickly smooths out once stirred together. Regular or stirred yoghurt and drinking yoghurts go through this incubation process in a tank before it is stirred or mixed breaking the curd before packing giving a smooth texture.

Types of yoghurts include traditional Full Fat, Skim and No Fat yoghurts, Greek yoghurt, Yoghurts with added fruit preparations or flavours, drinking yoghurt, organic, yoghurt products for baby and frozen yoghurts in tubs and sticks.

Traditional Yoghurt is available in full fat, and variations of reduce fat or no fat. As the fat is pulled out though you may find that along with the fat level dropping, the protein level may increase slightly and the carbohydrate level increases in yoghurts not containing artificial sweeteners. In some cases where artificial sweeteners are not used, No fat yoghurts may contain 12-17.5g of sugar per 100g.

Greek Yoghurt gets its thick creamy texture by straining out as much of the whey as possible after the proteins have curdled giving its characteristic thick creamy texture.

Ingredients in Yoghurts – Yoghurts that are Diet, No Sugar, No-Added Sugar or that use a fruit preparation (fruit swirl through the yoghurt) often contain a number of other ingredients used to stabilise, add sweetness, improve flavour, viscosity and quality. These ingredients can include and are not limited to bulking agents, sugars (sucrose, fructose, fruit, fruit juice and juice concentrate),  thickeners  (including starches (tapioca, rice, maize), gums and stabilisers (including 410 locust bean gum, 441 gelatine, 406 agar, 440 pectin, 412 guar, 415 xanthan gum, 452 Polyphosphates, 407 Carrageenan)), Inulin, numerous flavours and colours, Artificial Sweeteners (955 Sucralose, 951 Aspartame, 950 Acesulphame Potassium) Acidity Regulators (330 Citric Acid, 331 Sodium Citrate, 296 Malic Acid, 332 Potassium Citrate), Preservatives (202 Potassium Sorbate)

For more information on yoghurt please see the link to the FSANZ Standard 2.5.3http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx



Dried Dairy Products used in Further Processed Foods

There are a number of dried powdered dairy products used in further processed food products. These include but are not limited to –

Milk Powders – Milk Powders are produced by evaporating the water component out of pasteurised milk to a specific solids content and then spray or drum drying. They are available in Whole, Skim, and Butter Milk Powders and are commonly used as ingredients in products such as infant formula, chocolate and confectionary, bakery fillings, dairy snacks, Diet and Sports Nutrition products etc.

Milk Solids – Milk Solids are produced either as full fat or Non Fat and are similar but may not have been produced to the same specification as the Dried Milk Powders you find at the supermarket. They are produced in the same way, with the water being evaporated from fresh milk, then the remaining solids are spray or drum dried. They are a cheap source of solids and are commonly used by manufacturers as a bulking agent and to provide body and richness to products. You will find Milk Solids in a range of products including soft cheeses such as ice cream, ricotta, cream cheese, low fat yoghurt, dairy desserts such as custards and cheesecakes, bakery, dessert and cake premixes etc. 

Cream Powder – Cream Powder is made from fresh cream and skim milk that is spray dried. It’s used to provide flavour and a creamy mouthfeel to all types of applications from savoury to sweet. Product cream powder can be used in include confectionary and chocolate, sauces, side dishes, soups, bakery products, and frozen desserts.  

Butter Powder – Butter Powder can be made from butter concentrates or enzyme modified butter which is spray dried onto a carrier such as maltodextrin. These products provide high intensity flavour and the creamy mouthfeel of butter. They are used in snack and meat seasonings, popcorn coatings, margarine and spreads, sauces, side dishes, soups, in fact anywhere a butter flavour is required.

Butter Milk Powder – Butter Milk Powder is produced by evaporating pasteurized butter milk, then spray or roller drying it to produce a powder. Butter Milk Powders are used mainly in pancake mixes here in Australia.

Cheese Powder – Cheese powder is made by melting the cheese, adding additives and spray drying. Additives include Whey, vegetable oils, salt, colours, milkfat and anti-caking agent. The level of actual cheese in the finished product can vary greatly. The variety of flavours available is varied depending on the application but includes Australia’s favourite cheese profiles of Cheddar, Parmesan, Blue and Cream Cheese.

Enzyme modified cheese powders are manufactured from high quality cheeses and spray dried onto a carrier such as maltodextrin. They are highly concentrated and are used to provide cheese flavours and a dairy mouthfeel in products but at much lower levels than cheese powder.

Applications that contain cheese powders or enzyme modified dairy powders include flavourings, savoury snack and popcorn seasonings, cheese based powdered sauces or pasta premixes, savoury biscuits and crackers, sausage meatball or burger premixes, fillings or stuffing’s for meat and poultry and confectionary. 

Yoghurt Powder – Yoghurt Powder is dehydrated, dried and sold as a powder. It is available in a range of flavours including Greek Yoghurt. It is used for flavouring yoghurt confectionary, white chocolate coatings, snack seasonings, desserts, and sauces.

Milk Protein Powders –

Sodium Caseinate – Casein or Sodium Caseinate is a type of protein found in milk. To make Sodium Caseinate, the caseinate is extracted from skim milk, reacted with Sodium Hydroxide, dried and powdered. It contains over 85% protein and is used to add protein to foods and beverages, for thickening and as bulking agent. Typical products containing Sodium Caseinate include milk whiteners, cheese, ice cream, etc.  

Whey Protein – Whey is the liquid that separates from the curd during cheese making and makes up around 80% of the volume of milk used. Whey contains protein, lactose and a small amount of fat. The liquid is collected, dried and powdered. Whey Protein powders can be available as Concentrates (around 80% protein) or Isolates (around 90% protein) and can have varying levels of protein. As the protein level drops, you will find the levels of fat and carbohydrate or Lactose (milk sugars) increases accordingly. 

Whey proteins are digested by the body very easily compare to other milk proteins which is why they are commonly used ingredients as proteins sources, bulking agents, Some products you may be able to find Whey protein in include – Supplements, Protein and meal replacement shakes, Sports and Nutrition products, Infant Formula etc.

Copyright 2017 Food Facts for Healthy Eating

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