Research funding paves way for advanced milk products

Monday 28 November 2022

Consumers will benefit from new research at the Riddet Institute that hopes to improve the digestion properties of milk-based products.  

Riddet Institute Research Officer Dr Alejandra Acevedo-Fani.

The Riddet Institute has been awarded $476,000 by Fonterra Limited for a two-year project looking at the particulars of nutrient digestion in cow and non-cow milk components, with an emphasis on new formulations for specific age groups.

The Riddet Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), hosted by Massey University in Palmerston North, focusing on advanced food research.

This new project builds upon the Riddet Institute’s CoRE-funded work on the development and validation of in-vitro digestion simulator technology, and fundamental knowledge on milk digestion.

Project leader, Riddet Institute Research Officer Dr Alejandra Acevedo-Fani, says the project will investigate different milk protein-based formulations and research what happens in the stomach with the release of macronutrients and micronutrients.

A gastric simulator machine that replicates the human digestive system will be used in the research.

Dr Acevedo-Fani says the information will help them learn about the importance of gastric structure on digestion.

“The project will generate new knowledge about the contribution milk components such as proteins and lipids have on digestion and nutrient absorption.”

She says this knowledge can then be used to design structurally advanced milk prototypes or formulations with superior nutritional outcomes to meet specific consumer needs. New milk products with enhanced digestibility are expected to follow.

New research will help design tailor-made milk products to enhance the health of specific consumer groups.

It is expected the work will generate new knowledge and identify opportunities for delivering food solutions that will grow the Aotearoa New Zealand economy.

Dr Acevedo-Fani says the Riddet Institute is well known in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally for its expertise in milk research.

The industry-funded project has led to the creation of a new Postdoctoral Fellow position at the Riddet Institute to undertake research on dairy foods digestion. This position has been filled by Dr Faith Bernadette Descallar, who joined the team in September.

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