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Charles H. Manley

Takasago International Corporation, USA, Inc.

Teterboro, New Jersey


Meat and dairy products have several things in common. Both are appreciated from organoleptic and nutritional points of view. They have been traditionally regarded as two of the main protein sources for humans. In a modern diet, meat contributes about 35% of the protein intake, and milk about 25% (1).

Meat and dairy industries, furthermore, have a common interest in maintaining a positive image for protein of animal origin. However, in recent years there has been criticism about the fat content of meat and dairy products, and in some countries nutritional councils have recommended substituting vegetable protein for animal protein in the diet. In response to this criticism, meat and dairy manufacturers have succeeded in introducing low-fat products. A whole new range of meat and dairy foods is available, enabling the consumer to decide on the fat level desired in the diet. In addition to providing protein and fat, meat and dairy products contribute to a great extent to the intake of micronutrients. Meat is very important for the intake of iron and certain vitamins such as thiamin and riboflavin, while dairy foods are critical for the intake of calcium and vitamins.

Liquid or solid dairy products are widely used in the meat industry. They are mostly used with the objective to improve taste or eye appeal, eg, cheese topping on burgers, cordon bleu entrees, and cheese franks. Fresh dairy cream is often used in pâtés or liver products and in many seafood products. These applications are not within the scope of this article on functionality. The two most important ingredients from milk that find application in meat products are milk sugar (lactose) and predominantly milk protein. Milk protein causes functional advantages, while lactose is mostly used for taste improvement.

This article reviews and updates the application of these milk derivates in meat, poultry, and fish products. Scientific backgrounds will be highlighted.

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