Friday, September 8, 2017

What Are Modified Milk Ingredients?

“And, it’s made with real liquid milk,” said the elderly woman in a chef’s hat and apron at the grocery store.  

She handed me a small, free sample of Monterey Jack cheese produced by a Canadian cheese company. 

 “And, it has no modified milk ingredients in it.” She added.

“Oh really?” I said. “And what exactly are modified milk ingredients?”  

“Oh, it’s kinda like a paste or a powder, but not liquid milk.” 

Hmmm….not exactly a scientific answer, but my curiosity was piqued so I headed out to discover exactly what modified milk ingredients were and if I should be eating them.

What are modified milk ingredients?
This package of cheese has "no modified milk ingredients"

What Are Modified Milk Ingredients?

Liquid milk can be separated into different components such as casein, castanets, whey, powdered milk, butter oil, milk protein isolates and milk protein concentrate.

 “Rather than list the ingredients separately, the manufacturer is able to use this generic description which also allows for changes to be made to the dairy formulation at a later date without having to re-do the label information on the packaging material. In this scenario the product has been "modified" by mechanical means.” - Canadian Dairy Commission

These components are then added back into products such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream as modified milk ingredients.  

This way the product can be made cheaper with a longer shelf life and, I suspect, a compromised taste.  

What’s in Cheese?

If I were to make cheese at home I would use milk, a bacteria culture and rennet (a milk clotting enzyme). I would not use modified milk ingredients. 

The cheese that I ended up buying from the lady at the grocery store did contain liquid milk and the ingredients was as follows: fresh, pasteurized milk, bacterial culture, salt and microbial enzyme.

When I scoured the cheese aisle at the grocery store I noticed many products contained modified milk ingredients. A fact I’d never realized until now. 

For instance, here are the ingredients listed on a block of light mozzarella cheese: pasteurized partly skimmed milk, modified milk ingredients, bacterial culture, salt, calcium chloride, microbial enzyme. Who knew? Did you?

Milk ingredients is a broad term for any unaltered milk product that’s an ingredient in the ice cream which could include milk, cream or butter.  

What’s in Ice Cream?

Again, if I were to make ice cream at home, I’d use cream, milk, egg yolk and sugar…and again, no modified milk ingredients.  

However, when I pulled a carton of ice cream out of my freezer there was ‘modified milk ingredients’ and no mention of cream listed in the ingredients as follows: fresh milk, sugar, milk ingredients, glucose solids, modified milk ingredients, water, honey, modified corn starch, guar gum, mono and diglycerides (soy), xanthan gum, polysorbate 80, carrageenan, natural & artificial flavours, lemon juice concentrate, natural colour, potassium sorbet. Whew!
So, I phoned up the company who makes the product, and I was told that milk ingredients is a broad term for any unaltered milk product that’s an ingredient in the ice cream which could include milk, cream or butter.  

It’s all lumped together so you really don’t know how much cream is actually in ice CREAM. They also told me the modified milk ingredients were chemically altered milk products produced in their factory which again, could 
comprise a range of components.

The Taste

I now had the answer to what’s in modified milk ingredients. It also explained my disappointment with the taste of ice cream. When I was a kid, I would sneak bowls of ice cream and savour each creamy, cold spoonful of the velvety delight. 

It was so delicious my sneakiness was worth my mother’s wrath. She who was the keeper of all sweets. Today, when I eat ice cream I still anticipate that same sensation. But I’m always disappointed.  The rich, creamy flavour has been replaced with milk ingredients, and modified milk ingredients and ice cream now tastes like nothing more than sugar and milk with little cream.

Bottom Line

So, knowing this, I’m going to read my food labels on all dairy products from now on and only buy products without modified milk ingredients. I’m also going to try and find the cream in the ice cream.  It may cost more, but it will be worth it. 

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