Dairy Crest: reducing fat and saturated fat in cheddar cheese

Date : 10 January 2017

Responding to external fat and saturated fat reduction targets, Dairy Crest set about reformulating its Cathedral Cheddar Cheese. The goal was to produce a high-quality lower fat mature cheddar, with 30% less fat, while retaining all the attributes of flavour and functionality of standard mature cheddar.

 

Being one of the leading British dairy companies and a responsible business, Dairy Crest has a commitment to do the right thing for employees, farmers, customers and consumers. This means continuing to grow lower fat varieties of its core brands.

THE CHALLENGE


Standard mature cheddar has an average fat and saturated fat content of 34.9% and 21.7% respectively. The target was for these to be reduced by a third, which proved to be very challenging.

Extensive work was undertaken to make sure that the ingredients and process were at optimum levels using scientific and technological understanding of the cheese making process.

THE ACTIONS TAKEN TO RESOLVE IT


Getting the right balance of flavour and mouthfeel in lower fat cheese is extremely challenging and was the most difficult part of the project, right up to the end.

Effectively the ingredients that are used in the cheese making process are the same as full fat cheese other than the fat content of the milk is reduced – semi skimmed milk rather than whole milk. Alongside this process parameters were optimised to retain all the same flavour and functionality of standard mature cheddar.

Flavour

  • A reduction in fat level reduces the base material available for flavour generation and an overall reduction in flavour as a result
  • Bitter tasting elements that are naturally present during cheese maturation, dissolve in fat thereby reducing the bitter taste
  • When there is a reduction in fat, less of these elements are dissolved and more bitter taste is produced.

Texture

  • Fat effects the texture of cheese by making it more pliable in the mouth. Reduction of fat within cheese reduces this effect resulting in a rubberier texture. This does not breakdown so easily and can feel dry in the mouth

RESULTS OF THE ACTIONS TAKEN


Dairy Crest held internal tastings and set very high standards; the taste and texture had to deliver in line with standard Cathedral City Cheddar.

Overall it took two years to achieve the desired product. Following on from this, refinement work was undertaken to bring it into the brand and ensure the product was ready for market

From a taste, quality and cooking performance the product is exceptionally close to standard mature cheddar.

The project managed to overcome challenges with texture and flavour and produce a reduced fat product with great flavour and textural properties

A reduction in fat and saturated fat was achieved:

  • Fat was reduced from 34.9g/100g to 21.8g/100g (-13.1g/100g – 37.5%)
  • Saturated fat reduced from 21.7g/100g to 14.9g/100g (-6.8g/100g – 31.3%)

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