New cheese 'could improve diets'
Food scientists claim to have a cracked a major issue in bad diets by making healthier processed cheese.
Experts at University College Dublin have created a low salt recipe which could improve western eating habits heavily blamed for strokes and high blood pressure.
Even though the recipe has only been tested in a lab, the scientists claimed there is no reason big food firms cannot churn out the new cheese to meet market demand.
Michael O'Sullivan, UCD Institute of Food and Health, said the new style processed cheese would have 60% less salt than standard. "With so much processed food being consumed, western diets have about three times more sodium than is needed," he said.
"This excessive intake of sodium is linked to increased rates or hypertension and stroke. So in recent years there has been a move towards reducing sodium in processed foods, including cheese products."
It is believed the new product could revolutionise foods like pizza, cheese burgers, 'cordon bleu' type products, filled savoury wraps, breaded cheeses and finger foods.
The recipe turns traditional cheese making process on its head but resulted in a product with practically the same taste and structure as standard processed products. It is made from dry protein ingredients such as casein powder.
Despite the cheese being purely a pilot project in a laboratory, a blind taste panel was unable to poke holes in it and the UCD team claim it was selected over off the shelf competitors.
Processed cheese is used by food manufacturers because it has several advantages over unprocessed cheese, including extended shelf-life, resistance to separation when cooked and uniformity of product. It is also cheaper to make.
Mr O'Sullivan said emulsifying salts, usually phosphates and citrates and sodium chloride are the sources of added salt content in processed cheese. By altering the manufacturing conditions, scientists reduced sodium chloride levels but kept a similar taste and structure.