Mark Johnson, Senior Scientist
Center for Dairy Research
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone: (608) 262-0275
3:04 – Total Time
0:17 – Why the search for low fat low salt
0:40 – How the Center for Dairy Research helps
1:05 – Hurdles to make low fat cheese
1:25 – Challenges to reducing sodium in cheese
2:12 – Market for low fat low sodium cheese
2:29 – How to get flavor in low fat and sodium cheese
2:54 – Lead out
Looking for low fat, low sodium cheese. We’re visiting today with Mark Johnson, Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.
Sevie Kenyon: Mark, why is the dairy business looking for these low sodium, low fat cheeses?
Mark Johnson: Consumers are requesting lower fat cheeses in their diets but I think the big push is for school lunch programs in reducing the amount of calories that are given in the breakfast and lunch meals and also the reducing the sodium content at the same time.
Sevie Kenyon: What role does the Center for Dairy Research play in this effort to reduce sodium and fat in cheeses?
Mark Johnson: We have an ongoing research program on producing quality dairy products and so when a cheesemaker comes in with a request to produce low sodium or low fat products, we have a research group that will investigate those issues and try to come up with a manufacturing protocol.
Sevie Kenyon: Mark, maybe I can get you to describe a few of those hurdles to the reduced sodium, reduced fat cheeses?
Mark Johnson: Well, anytime you take the fat out of cheese, the cheese has a tendency to become firmer, harder, so we have to increase the moisture content of the cheese so we adjust the manufacturing protocol to adjust for calcium and moisture content.
Sevie Kenyon: Mark, maybe we can also get you to visit about challenges in reducing sodium?
Mark Johnson: Well, sodium is there in the form of sodium chloride and that adds to the flavor of the cheese. It also controls bacteria metabolism, so when we reduce the amount of sodium, or salt, in the cheese we get less flavor in a cheese but we also allow bacteria to grow and to metabolize the fat and the protein there. So there’s a different environment and we have to have bacteria that can do the right thing in that environment. The problem that we have is that when we reduce the sodium level there are bacteria that used to be held in check with sodium. As a result, they could dominate and they could make off flavors or bad flavored cheese.
Sevie Kenyon: Mark, what do you suppose the market potential is for developing this kind of cheese?
Mark Johnson: Well, it you look at the school lunch program, that market’s going to be huge. If we can produce the cheese that has the low sodium content and kids like those cheeses, I think the market would be pretty huge.
Sevie Kenyon: Mark, what are the processes used to bring more flavor to cheeses?
Mark Johnson: The way we get flavor in the cheese is for bacteria to metabolize the fat and the protein in cheese. So, if we can find the right bacteria that produce the right flavor in the cheese, and we add those back to the milk and low sodium environment, hopefully, we’ll get the flavor that we’re looking for. If we can find that one that does, we can it back to the milk, it grows in the cheese and produces a flavor that we desire.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Mark Johnson, Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.