Advanced milk products expected to result from funding for digestion research

28 November 2022 - Consumers will benefit from new research at the Riddet Institute in Palmerston North that hopes to improve the digestion properties of milk-based products.

The Riddet Institute has been awarded $476,000 by dairy giant Fonterra Limited for a two-year project looking at the particulars of nutrient digestion in cow and non-cow milk components, with an emphasis on new formulations for specific age groups.

The Riddet Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), hosted by Massey University in Palmerston North, focusing on advanced food research.

The new project builds upon the Riddet Institute’s CoRE-funded work on the development and validation of in-vitro digestion simulator technology, and fundamental knowledge on milk digestion.

Project leader Dr Alejandra Acevedo-Fani says the project will investigate different milk protein-based formulations and research what happens in the stomach with the release of macronutrients and micronutrients.

A gastric simulator machine that replicates the human digestive system will be used in the research.

“The information will help us learn about the importance of gastric structure on digestion,” Dr Acevedo-Fani says.

“The project will generate new knowledge about the contribution milk components such as proteins and lipids have on digestion and nutrient absorption.”

She says this knowledge can then be used to design structurally advanced milk prototypes or formulations with superior nutritional outcomes to meet specific consumer needs. New milk products with enhanced digestibility are expected to follow.

It is expected the work will generate new knowledge and identify opportunities for delivering food solutions that will grow the New Zealand economy.

Dr Acevedo-Fani says the Riddet Institute is well known in New Zealand and globally for its expertise in milk research.

The industry-funded project has led to the creation of a new Postdoctoral Fellow position at the Riddet Institute to undertake research on dairy foods digestion. Dr Faith Bernadette Descallar joined the team in September.

Riddet Institute Research Officer Dr Alejandra Acevedo-Fani is leading a project that will investigate digestion and nutrient release of different formulations of milk. 

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