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28 September 2018

The science of making healthier cheese

Friday 28 September 2018 • Reading time: 2 minutes

Our researchers have been working with major food suppliers to create healthy, tasty alternatives for cheese lovers

Britain gets through over a million tonnes of cheese a year, including over 300,000 tonnes of hard cheese in processed foods.

Like many companies in the food industry, major producers Greencore and Arla have been looking for ways to feed our love of cheese while also offering healthier alternatives. Both companies came to Sheffield Hallam's food engineering experts for help,

Greencore, a major supplier of prepared food to UK retailers, uses large quantities of cheese in baked products like quiche and lasagne. And while it had made progress reducing salt and fat for its convenience ranges, it had found that doing the same for products containing baked cheese was much more challenging. 

Meanwhile, Arla – one of the UK’s largest producers of cheese for direct retail – was looking to develop technology that would produce a healthy cheese alternative capable of competing with existing cheese products.

Together we formed a consortium that included Arla, Greencore, Sheffield Hallam and Imperial College London, with Greencore as lead partner. We successfully applied to Innovate UK for £579K of funding.

Our project was funded to explore the manufacture of a healthier cheese product for the baked quiches market, and, in doing so, develop a technology applicable to the wider cheese ingredients and cheese retail markets.

Our solution uses micro-encapsulation technology to reduce the salt and fat content of products containing baked cheese by 10% and 20% respectively. This new product could be used as an ingredient in healthy processed convenience foods or as a standalone retail cheese product.

If successful, there is potential for this new healthier cheese to contribute to removing around six tonnes of salt and 96 tonnes of fat consumption in the UK every year. We plan to share our findings and technology to the UK cheese manufacturing supply chain.

The project marks the latest development in Sheffield Hallam's relationship with Greencore. Since the launch of the National Centre of Excellence in Food Engineering in July 2014, Greencore has been involved in ongoing discussions to identify opportunities for collaboration, including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and student placements.

Greencore technical director Helen Sisson has been involved from the outset in our Masters in Food Engineering course, and in the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.

We’ve also worked with Greencore to identify ways in which the micro-encapsulation research could be applied to challenges in compliance with salt and fat reduction targets, while maintaining product quality and consumer experience.

Research themes

About this project

Explore the people and organisations behind this research, and find related publications by the research team.

Funding partners

Innovate UK

Related courses

Our teaching is informed by research. Browse undergraduate and postgraduate courses with links to this research project, topic or team.

Get in touch

Find key contacts for enquiries about funding, partnerships, collaborations and doctoral degrees.

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