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Transmission electron microscopy imaging of the microstructure of milk in cheddar cheese production under different processing conditions

Authors: Lydia Ong, Raymond R. Dagastine, Sandra E. Kentish and Sally L. Gras

Milk processing prior to cheesemaking serves a number of functions, but may also irreversibly change the structure of the milk components. The effect of processing parameters on the microstructure of several milk preparations was assessed using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Our TEM results confirmed the presence of the native milkfat globule membrane on fat globules within raw milk, within raw milk ultrafiltration retentate and within pasteurised and standardised milk for cheddar cheesemaking. Sodium dodecyl sulphate – polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis confirmed the identity of the native MFGM proteins isolated from the surface of fat globules. In contrast, homogenisation produced the greatest changes in the microstructure of the fat globules, where the native MFGM could not be detected using TEM. The fat globules within homogenised milk had mostly casein present on the fat globule surface. These changes in the microstructure of the milk components may alter the microstructure of downstream products. Our results highlight the potential use of TEM to complement previously reported techniques such as confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) to provide valuable information about membrane integrity and changes associated with milk preparation for cheddar cheese production.

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