Incorporation of extracellular polysaccharide produced by Xanthomonas campestris into milk powders : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Technology in Food Technology at Massey University
The purpose of the research was to investigate the functional properties of milk powders following exopolysaccharide (EPS) addition to milk solutions and their subsequent spray-drying. The aim was to replace some of the milk proteins with polysaccharide in dairy products while maintaining or improving the functional characteristics. Both commercial xanthan EPS and ferment xanthan EPS were incorporated into whole milk powder (WMP), skim milk powder (SMP), and milk protein concentrate (MPC). Ferment EPS was produced from a by-product of the dairy industry, milk permeate, through the hydrolysis of the lactose and fermentation with a strain of Xanthomonas campestris. Ferment EPS had a characteristic and unpleasant odour. The main compound responsible for this odour was p-cresol which, in milk, is largely bound in the conjugate form. Xanthomonas campestris hydrolyses these conjugates releasing the odour compounds. Ultrafiltration (UF) of the ferment or passing the ferment through a bed of activated carbon was effective in reducing the odour. UF was proven to reduce the levels of p-cresol in the ferment from 138ppb to less than 5ppb after 98 concentration factors. Milk powders made with UF ferment were more acceptable to the consumer sensory panel than those made with untreated ferment. The incorporation of EPS into milk powders has beneficial effects on the product with small additions increasing the viscosity of reconstituted SMP and WMP considerably. The EPS addition could result in a thickened milk product or alternatively, substitute for some of the milk solids. Sensory testing showed that 13.3% WMP solution, containing 0.02% commercial EPS, was not detectably different from a 15% WMP solution. The addition of both commercial and ferment EPS into milk powders leads to the formation of separate flocculated casein and polysaccharide phases with reconstituted milk. Confocal microscopy showed that casein flocculation occurred at all EPS concentrations tested, but this only resulted in sedimentation at intermediate EPS concentrations. At high EPS concentrations of approximately 0.2% the high viscosity limited flocculation and prevented sedimentation. At low EPS concentrations of approximately 0.05% flocculation was insufficient to overcome Brownian motion. Fresh cheese (Panela) made from MPC containing either ferment or commercial EPS showed greatly decreased whey loss. This was attributed to (i) the increased viscosity of the continuous phase limiting the flow of liquid through the pores of the cheese, and (ii) diminished casein interaction in the presence of EPS leading to a looser curd and lower contraction forces. For example the incorporation of 0.161% ferment EPS decreased the whey lost by approximately 75%. Negative effects were also apparent. The addition of EPS led to a granular appearance, which became more apparent with increasing EPS concentration. Cheese firmness was also decreased by approximately 40% by the addition of the ferment EPS at 0.161%. This could also be attributed to the localised aggregation of protein during renneting and the increased heterogeneity of the network. Sensory testing of cheeses made with 15.6% MPC + 0.045% commercial EPS compared with cheese made with 17.37% MPC alone showed that the consumers had no significant preference for one cheese over the other, but did notice a difference in texture. For reasons of safety and health, the sensory testing of milk and cheese in this research was confined to commercial xanthan. Future sensory testing of milk and cheese should be conducted with ferment EPS after odour removal rather than commercial EPS, and use consumers familiar with these cheese and milk products. For commercial production of dairy powders containing UF ferment EPS it is vital that either the xanthan or casein micelle structure be altered to prevent casein flocculation. If this is not feasible then an alternative use of the product may need to be found. A potential option involves the addition of the powder containing UF ferment EPS into food products as a minor food constituent. This may limit the occurrence of phase separation while improving the functionality of the product. Commercialisation is also limited by the increasing costs caused by ferment EPS purification and the lower solids concentrations required for spray-drying. As such the viability of the powder production must be determined.