Characteristics of dairy products produced from modified milk


There is interest in understanding if cardiovascular disease risk (CVD) could be reduced through the replacement of saturated fatty acids (SFA) in dairy products.


The RESET study was undertaken by University of Reading researchers to determine, through human studies, if consuming SFA-reduced, MUFA-enriched dairy products improves vascular function and other CVD biomarkers relative to typical retail products. The challenge was to produce SFA-reduced, MUFA-enriched dairy products as well as dairy products (Modified) with a fatty acid profile typical of retail products (Control). Over the 2 year intervention trial there was a requirement for 5600 kg UHT milk, 720 kg of cheddar cheese and 380 kg of butter. Modified milk was produced at CEDAR through feeding High-oleic sunflower (HOS) oil for 28 days to 30 multiparous Holstein-Friesian cows in mid-lactation.

The project also sought to evaluate the consumer acceptance of SFA-reduced, monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA)-enriched (modified) milk, Cheddar cheese, and butter when compared with control and commercially available comparative samples. The effect of providing nutritional information about the modified cheese was also evaluated.

Outcomes and Impact

The research verified that it was possible to produce dairy products from modified milk over a 2 year period. The cheese produced from the modified milk had a reduced fat content.  Production was carried out at multiple time points throughout the 2 year period, however SFA was successfully and consistently reduced in the products. There were differences in most individual fatty acid concentrations between control and modified products. All of the short (4:0-10:0) and medium (12:0-16:0) chain SFA were lower in modified products, which was balanced by higher 18:0, cis-9 18:1 and intermediates of biohydrogenation concentrations. There was no effect of production period on differences between the main fatty acids and groups in modified and control products.

Consumer acceptance of modified dairy products was dependent on product type. Consumers (n 115) rated samples for overall liking, appearance, flavour and texture using nine-point hedonic scales. While no significant differences were found between the milk samples, the modified cheese was significantly less liked than a regular fat commercial alternative for overall liking and liking of specific modalities. The modified cheese was not significantly different in overall liking from the control cheese, although liking of texture was significantly lower. The provision of health information significantly increased the overall liking of modified cheese, when compared to tasting the same sample in a blinded manner. Significant differences were evident between the butter samples for overall liking and modalities of liking, with all of the samples being significantly more liked than the commercial butter and sunflower oil spread.

Key staff

Colette Fagan, Associate Professor in Food Processing, Department of Food & Nutritional Sciences
Lisa Methven, Associate Professor in Food and Sensory Science Department of Food & Nutritional Sciences
Kirsty Kliem (Dr), Senior Research Fellow, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading
Dave Humphries, Head of Specialist Units, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading
Ian Givens, Professor of Food Chain Nutrition, Director Institute of Food, Nutrition and HealtH, University of Reading
Julie Lovegrove, Hugh Sinclair Chair in Human Nutrition, University of Reading

Related Publications

Markey, O., Souroullas, K., Fagan, C. C., Kliem, K. E., Vasilopoulou, D., Jackson, K. G., Humphries, D. J., Grandison, A. S., Givens, D. I., Lovegrove, J. A. and Methven, L. (2017) Consumer acceptance of dairy products with a saturated fatty acid-reduced, monounsaturated fatty acid-enriched content. Journal of Dairy Science. ISSN 0022-0302 (In Press)