Info

Source: Refs. 3, 4, and Land O'Lakes unpublished data, 1996.

Source: Refs. 3, 4, and Land O'Lakes unpublished data, 1996.

barriers to increased butter sales were listed in the following order (2):

1. Price (opinion of an overwhelming majority when butter is compared to margarine)

2. Health (negative consumer attitudes toward cholesterol and saturated fats are increasing)

3. Poor spreadability

4. Inadequate promotional spending

5. Product innovation in margarine and spreads

6. Legislation and regulatory restrictions

The forces that have had a positive impact on butter are as follows:

Standards for butter in the United States were established by an Act of Congress and are supported by the USDA standards for grades of butter. In the revised standards the following definitions apply. Butter refers to the food product usually known as butter, which is made exclusively from milk, cream, or both, with or without common salt; and with or without additional coloring matter. The milk fat content of butter is not less than 80% by weight, allowing for all tolerances. Cream refers to the cream separated from milk produced by healthy cows. Cream is pasteurized at a temperature of not less than 73.9°C for not less than 30 min; or it can be pasteurized at a temperature of not less than 89°C for not less than 15 s. Other approved methods of pasteurization give equivalent results (5).

The cream may be cultured by the addition of harmless lactic acid bacteria to enhance flavor, natural flavors obtained by distilling a fermented milk, or cream may be added to the finished butter. In addition, color, derived from a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved source, may be used.

There are three U.S. grades of butter: AA, A, and B. Butter is graded by first classifying its flavor organolepti-cally. In addition to the overall quality of the butter flavor itself, the standards list 17 flavor defects and the degree to which they may be present for each grade. If more than one off-flavor is noted, assignment is made on the basis of the flavor resulting in the lowest grade. This grade is then lowered by defects in the workmanship and the degree to which they are apparent. Disratings are characterized by negative body, flavor, or salt attributes, which are fully described in the standards. Butter that does not meet the requirements for U.S. Grade B is not graded. To bear the USDA seal, the finished product must fall within the following microbiological specifications: proteolytic count not more than 100 per gram, yeast and mold not more than 20 per gram, and coliform not more than 10 per gram. Butter should be stored at 4.4°C or lower or at less than - 17.8°C, if it is to be held for more than 30 days (6).

Legal requirements for butter vary considerably in different countries. For example, in Europe butter must contain 82% fat and in France it may contain a maximum of 16% moisture (6). In some tropical parts of the world, milk fat is used in nearly anhydrous form because it is less susceptible to bacterial spoilage. This product is known as ghee. In the Middle East and India ghee is prepared from heated cow or buffalo milk.

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