MSE Research Project Database

Microstructure – A microstructural approach to process improvement and product innovation in cheese, cream cheese and yogurt manufacture

Project Leader: Sally Louise Gras
Staff: Lydia Ong
Collaborators: The University of Queensland Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd.
Sponsors: Australian Research Council Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd.
Primary Contact: Sally Louise Gras (
Keywords: Food Engineering; Food Manufacturing; Food Processing
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Domains: Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences, Optimisation of resources and infrastructure
Research Centre: ARC Dairy Innovation Hub

In Australia, the dairy industry ranks as the third largest food industry in our rural and regional economy. Product innovation is key to the survival and growth of dairy manufacturing in this country to help overcome the many international and domestic pressures challenging the industry. The microstructure project applies high resolution microscopic techniques to characterise dairy products including rennetted cheeses, cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt. Techniques such as Scanning Electron (cryo-SEM), Confocal (CLSM), Atomic Force and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) are used to examine samples at a laboratory, pilot and manufacturing scale. This information is then correlated with results of chemical and physical testing and other indicators of product quality. This research assists Australian manufacturers to develop modified and reverse engineered products such as low-fat and low-salt variants, or products with extended shelf-life and new textural properties for export markets. Microstructural methods can also be used to examine the effect of changes in unit operations and equipment upgrades on product properties, to develop technical guidelines for lower-cost formulations and reduce waste by better prediction and control of undesirable processing effects during product manufacture.

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