In addition to chemical and enzymatic means of desaturation, there have been extensive studies on feeding cows specific diets to change butterfat saturation as well as increasing the ratio of potentially desirable fatty acids (19,63,64). In general, good progress in the understanding of rumen physiology, digestion, and function has occurred, but economic potential remains unacceptable. The most promising technologies are the use of protected fats in a feeding regimen. These fats are protected in a way that they pass through the rumen (point of fat hyrogenation) into the remaining digestive system for absorption and subsequently into the mammary glands. Unsaturated fats that are fed to cows have a great opportunity to remain unsaturated as they are synthesized into milk fat. Biotechnology may offer alternatives in the modification of edible fats and milk fat. Research has led to new methods of lipolysis and esterification, but the developments are still at the laboratory level. Nevertheless, commercial application may emerge from these interesting areas of research.
Part of the reason for consumer popularity of the butter—vegetable oil mixtures may be seen in the emphasis on saturated animal fats in current nutritional debates as well as the alleged cause-and-effect relation between butter and heart disease. For these reasons, people interested in good nutrition willingly change over to products that contain a certain amount of vegetable oil but also have the natural butter aroma.
The rise in concern for fat and cholesterol in the U.S. market overshadowed the concern for chemicals and preservatives in the 1980s. By 1990, the concern for cholesterol started to significantly decline, whereas concern for fat, particularly saturated fat, remained high (Fig. 3) (65). The U.S. Nutritional Labeling and Education Act of 1990 has provided the consumer with product label information that has influenced dietary decisions and has educated the consumer, particularly for fat and saturated fat contents.
Because the physical properties of milk fat influence the rheological properties of dairy products, especially butter,
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