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DFI to embark on NPD-boosting research project

10 March 2015

Dairygold Food Ingredients Ltd (DFI) is working with University College Cork (UCC) on a research project which will allow the company to understand the effect that calcium chloride and different temperature combinations have on gel strength in combination with pasteurisation during the soft cheese manufacturing process. 

The project, which will also investigate the heat stability and association of proteins in each soft cheese recipe, will open the door for NPD and export opportunities 

The research initiative will last around 18 months, and will study the manufacturing method used by DFI to make its award-winning soft cheese. UCC will also examine the ingredients and processes used in detail to help eliminate inconsistencies in production. 

It is hoped that the study will enable DFI to extend the shelf life of its soft cheeses whilst still leaving them free of artificial stabilisers. This achievement would open the door for DFI into the European and world markets. 

The Soft Cheese manufacturing process is particularly delicate and can be affected by the slightest change to the manufacturing procedure. Further study into the method will deliver a complete understanding of these changes and the protein chemistry involved in this method. This will enable DFI to provide the optimum conditions of manufacture to deliver a consistent product.  

The project came about following previous work with Dr Seamus O’Mahony at UCC. 
Several areas were identified which would benefit from further research in this method of soft cheese production, including heat stability profiling, the effect of heat treatment and model acid gel strength screening. 

“This research will give DFI the upper hand when it comes to the functionality of our soft cheese,” says Eimear Downey, R&D Technologist at DFI’s Mitchelstown HQ in Co. Cork, where the project will take place.

Following a lengthy interview process managed by Downey, Juliana Valle Costa Silva will be the post-doctoral researcher on the project. Juliana has a PhD in Dairy Science & Technology from her studies in her native Brazil and latterly in France.

Downey comments: “We produce a wide range of different soft cheese products suitable for different applications, and we are always looking to improve our knowledge in the company to ensure that every product delivers the very best results for our customers. 

“The project will enable us to ensure that our manufacturing processes use the optimum temperature/time combinations and ensure a consistent, high quality product with enhanced functionality through seasonal ingredient changes.”

Key areas to be investigated will include different temperature/time combinations, heat stability in each DFI recipe, the association of proteins in each recipe and the measurement of gel strength (stability). 

It is thought that the research will also enable DFI’s soft cheese to be used for new applications. Currently, DFI’s soft cheese is primarily used for baked cheesecakes, but the project, by helping DFI to manufacture a soft cheese with increased functionality, will enable the company to venture into new markets. 

The work will also open the door for new product development. During the project, research will focus on how DFI’s soft cheese manufacturing process could be applied to products such as cream cheese spread or flavoured cream cheese.

“The potential of this project to improve our processes seems endless,” adds Downey.

“As well as ensuring our current soft cheese offering is performing at its very best, it will pave the way for exciting new steps in export and NPD. 

“The research will help us ensure we are delivering the very best products to our customers and will reinforce our position as leaders in cheese production.” 

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