Kraft's latest Cheese Patent 6214404, 'Incorporation of supersaturated lactose in process cheese and product thereof', proposes a method of incorporating over 17% lactose in Process Cheese such that the lactose does not crystallise. Crystals give a grainy mouthfeel to cheese, and evidently, expensive research has gone into obviating it.

Current Competition
Valio Meijerien Keskusosuusliike
, and Neose Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Abstract:

The present invention discloses a method of preparing a process cheese containing lactose wherein the cheese remains free of lactose crystals. The method includes a step in which a dairy liquid is heated at a temperature, and for a duration in time, that are sufficient to inhibit or prevent crystallization of the lactose after formation of the process cheese. The ratio of dairy liquid to cheese is from about 1:1 to about 3:1 by weight. The invention additionally discloses the lactose-containing process cheese stabilized against the formation of lactose crystals, prepared by the process of the invention.

Claim 11 (of 20):

A lactose-containing process cheese stabilized against the formation of significant lactose crystals, said process cheese being prepared by a process comprising:

(1) preparing a dairy liquid containing lactose at a concentration sufficient to provide a high level of
lactose in the process cheese;

(2) heating the dairy liquid at a temperature and for a time sufficient to inhibit or prevent significant
crystallization of the lactose after formation of the process cheese;

(3) blending the heated dairy liquid, without cooling, with fat, an emulsifier, salt, and a preservative to
form a heated dairy blend;

(4) blending the heated dairy blend with a melted cheese to yield a melted cheese blend;

(5) heating the melted cheese blend at a temperature between about 170.degree. F. and about 200.degree. F. for between about one minute and ten minutes to provide the process cheese; and

(6) packaging the process cheese; wherein the process cheese contains at least 17 percent lactose in the moisture phase and remains
significantly free of lactose crystals upon storage at refrigerated temperatures.

For more information on patent, click here.

By Navroz Havewala, just-food.com correspondent