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Estimating Component Values - Dairy Products

 Updated 2021-05-04

 Estimating Component Values for Dairy Products

Milk is characteristic by being the mammals' only food i the first time after birth. Like for other foods, there are some clear biologically and/or physiologically determined relations between core components in milk from animals.

There are of course major differences in the milk produced by different mammals and there are natural variations - sometimes significant - in the composition of milk. The variations may differ be due to breed of animal, stage of lactation, season, feed, weather and precipitation has an impact on the nutrient content in the feed, etc., and also the impact of the production system (conventional/organic) is well known.
The diverse circumstances impact differently on the milks' composition.

In many countries the bovine (Bos taurus L.) milk, cow's milk, is the most important and its milk lipids are the core components in the production of dairy products. Many of the dairy products are characterized by a standardization of the content of the milk lipids, which is the case with drinking milk/liquid milk/sweet milk, the fermented milks, and in cheeses combined with drainage of whey constituents involving considerable changes in the moisture content.

The distribution of components in milk

Bovine milk is characterized as lipids (3 to 5%) occuring as globules emulsified in the aqueous phase (87%) of milk, and typically, raw bovine milk contains 3.2 - 3.5% protein. The globules contain nonpolar or core lipids such as triacylglycerols, cholesteryl esters, and retinol esters. The globule membranes' outer loose layer is coated with bipolar materials, like proteins, cholesterol  enzymes, etc. (Jensen, 2002). For comparison, milk from the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer (Sparrman, 1779)) contains on average 6.3% protein, 13.4% lipids and 80% moisture (Osthoff et al, 2009).
In the aqueous phase most of the protein is dissolved collodially in the form of casein micelles.

Relations between components in milk and cheeses

The traditional processes in the dairy industry involve separation of the emulsified lipid phase from the aquous phase with a following standardization to a specific lipid content in the final product. In theory, the components bound to or dissolved in the lipid phase will follow the lipids; similarly, the components in the aqueous phase will follow aqueous phase.
Therefore, simple mass balances can be used to calculate the content of components in the final milk product provided that the distribution of components between the lipid and aqueous phases is known and that variability in their content is fairly stable in the raw milk.
However, when newer production techniques, like ultrafiltration, are applied, it is more difficult to follow the components in the different phases of the liquid.

These pages will describe the relations between components in milk, butter and cheese based on a series of thorough investigations of components in milk and milk products carried out in Denmark and in Sweden over the last 30 years by the Danish Dairy Research, the national Food Agency, and the Swedish Dairy Association.

The description of the relations between components in cows' milk is divided up in the following two groups

For milk of other origin, like ovine milk (Ovis aries L.), camel milk (Camelus dromedarius Linnaeus, 1758 or Camelus bactrianus Linnaeus, 1758), horses' milk (Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758), etc., the information currently available is not sufficient to make a thorough description.


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First Albanian food composition tables (2022).

First Albanian food composition tables (2022) published with assistance from NPPC-VÚP in the frame of the Slovak Republic Official Development Support Programme.
Download here.
Swedish food composition database updated.

New version of the Swedish food composition database with updated nutritional values for several food groups and new foods and iodine values added. See the Swedish Food Agency's website.
First edition of the Kyrgyz Food Composition Table.

Kyrgyzstan has released their first national food composition table. For more information, see the EuroFIR website.
2021 Release of the New Zealand Food Composition Database.

The 2021 update of New Zealand food composition database (NZFCD) released online on 31st March 2022. For more information, see the EuroFIR website.