Date of Award
MS in Agriculture - Dairy Products Technology
Phillip S. Tong
As many of the dairy powders manufactured have to travel long distances to reach their customers, both domestically and internationally, there is considerable interest among dairy powder manufacturers to maintain the quality of their products for relatively long storage periods. Dairy powders can have a long shelf life if packaged and stored properly. Vacuum packaging can be an attractive packaging strategy to maintain the quality of dairy powders and provide added value by improving the efficiency of using the storage space; because of the inherent compactness of these products. Vacuum packaged dry dairy ingredients may also have added ease of handling for end users. However, little is known about the impact of vacuum packaging on the physical properties of dry dairy ingredients. The main objective of this study was to determine the effect of vacuum packaging over 12 months storage on particle size, particle density, bulk density, tapped density, flowability, compressibility, color, moisture content, surface morphology, and solubility of six types of dairy powders. In addition, the effect of dairy ingredients type was also assessed. Commercial samples of nonfat dry milk powder, whole milk powder, buttermilk powder, milk protein Isolate, whey protein concentrate#80, and sweet whey powder were repackaged in duplicate using multi-wall foil side gusseted bags under varying degrees of vacuum (1, 0.7, 0.4 bar) and a control with no vacuum, then stored for 3, 6, and 12 months at 25°C and 60% relative humidity. Each powder was sampled and analyzed in duplicate for all the above listed quality attributes, upon receiving the powder and after 3, 6, and 12 months of storage.
Moreover, the effect of vacuum packaging on storage space was evaluated comparing three different models; Model (1) represented a 25 kg bag of atmospheric packaged non fat dry milk with the actual dimensions of a commercial 25 kg bag of non fat dry milk. Model (2), a hypothetical model, represented a 25 kg bag of vacuum packaged non fat dry milk with a length and a width equal to those of model (1). Model (3), another hypothetical model, also represented a 25 kg bag of vacuum packaged non fat dry milk with a length equal to half of a pallet width and a width equal to one third of a pallet length, in order to achieve the highest pallet efficiency possible. The pallet used for all three models was considered to be a (48 × 40) pallet. The height of models 2 and 3 was allowed to reflect the bulk reduction effect of vacuum packaging and was determined based on the weight, density and the known dimensions of the bags. It is important to note that the density of models 2 and 3 was assumed to be equal to the density of a small bag of nonfat dry milk. The saved space per bag and pallet efficiency of vacuum packaging and atmospheric packaging were compared using the three models described above.
Physical properties analyses of the dairy powders revealed statistically significant effect of vacuum pressure on only color values: L-, a-, and b but none of the other powder quality attributes examined. Powders packaged under vacuum showed a significantly higher mean of L- color value (p-value = 0.003 < 0.01), but significantly lower means of (a- and b-) color values (p-values = 0.005, and 0.001, respectively). This effect was more dramatic in high fat containing powder such as whole milk powder. In fact, vacuum packaged whole milk powders were significantly whiter, less red, and less yellow. It is likely that vacuum packaging has prevented color changes due to lipid oxidation in whole milk powder.
Physical properties analyses of the dairy powders also revealed statistically significant increases in the particle density, particle size, bulk density, and tapped density due to the effect of storage time (all p-values = 0.000 < 0.01), statistically significant decreases in the angle of repose and compressibility due to the effect of storage time (p = 0.000 < 0.01) and (p = 0.004 < 0.01), respectively. The physical properties analyses also revealed a statistically significant effect of the powder type on particle density, particle size, bulk density, and tapped density, angle of repose, compressibility, and color values: L-, a-, and b- (all p-values = 0.000 < 0.01). In other words, particle density, particle size, bulk density, and tapped density of the powders increased over the storage time, while angle of repose (AOR) and compressibility decreased over the storage time. The powder type had a significant effect on particle density, particle size, bulk density, tapped density, AOR, compressibility, and color values: L-, a-, and b; however, it did not have any significant effect on solubility and moisture content.
In addition, observations of the surface morphology of dairy powders were made using a scanning electron microscope. This evaluation demonstrated the differences in powder particle shape and surface morphology which are believed to be partially responsible for the significant differences observed in the physical properties, due to the effect of powder type.
It was shown that vacuum packaging does increase the efficiency of using the storage space by removing the interstitial air and increasing the density of the powder. As described above, the height of model (2) and the length of model (3) both were expectedly shorter compared to those of model (1). Storage space calculations for non fat dry milk were performed based on comparing the volume of the 3 models and showed 15 % saving in storage space per bag and per pallet, due to vacuum packaging. The effect of space saving on the number of bags per pallet was evaluated using CAPE PACK v2.09 software and showed an increase from 45 bags/ pallet in model (1) to 50 bags/ pallet in model (2) and 54 bags/ pallet in model (3).
Overall, this study demonstrates the impact of vacuum packaging on physical properties, solubility, and storage properties of dairy powders. The data suggest that the proposed vacuum packaging method may be beneficial to maintain the quality of the powders studied and it results in space savings per unit of dairy powder compared to conventional atmospheric packaging.