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Scientists develop sugar free dairy dessert

By Chris Mercer , 31-Oct-2006

Two top scientists claim to have developed a frozen dairy dessert that contains no sugar, trans fats or lactose, heralding new opportunities for dairy firms to target consumer health trends.

The formulation, thought to be one of the first of its kind in the world, claims to use commercially available ingredients and traditional ice cream manufacturing processes without the need for high intensity sweeteners.

It has been developed by US food technologists Drs Bruce Tharp and Steven Young.

If the new technique proves viable, it could add an important piece of armoury to dairy firms' increasing efforts to target healthy food trends.

Tharp and Young said the formulation process would comply with the US standard for ice cream under proposed changes to the Standards of Identity system.

The exact nature of the formulation remains secret, but Young said it "combines the novel use of unique functional, compositional and flavouring ingredients never before executed in any finished frozen dessert".

Several key features of the new formulation fit into current healthy product trends in both the US and Europe.

The dessert contains around 0.5g total sugars per serving, 3g of fat (or 90 calories) and is completely free of trans fatty acids, harmful 'hard' fats which must now be flagged up on product labels in the US.

Dairy firms would also be able to fortify the dessert formulation with various vitamins and minerals, giving them a potentially important avenue into growing markets for functional foods, Tharp and Young said.

Low fat dairy, such as semi-skimmed and skimmed milk, has taken market share off full fat products in several western markets in recent years.

This trend has been particularly visible for ice cream in Europe over the last few months, with three large firms, including Unilever and ingredients group Danisco, announcing new low fat products.

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