What are modified milk ingredients?

child drinking milkIf you care for a real exercise in label reading, just take a peek at a standard supermarket ice cream. You would think that the list of ingredients should be pretty short. After all, traditional ice cream is made by mixing together cream, milk, egg yolk and sugar, blending in some vanilla, fruit or chocolate flavouring and freezing the concoction. That’s the stuff that makes or mouths drool and arteries panic. But chances are that you won’t see any cream or milk on the label of many a commercial ice cream. What you will see is “modified milk ingredients.” What on earth are these? Milk of course is quite a complex mixture of substances. It is mostly water in which the milk sugar lactose is dissolved, and goblets of fat and proteins, the so-called caseins, are suspended. Milk has a rather limited shelf life, but its components, if separated, can last longer and can be used in a variety of ways. This has given rise to a range of milk-processing industries. If the water is evaporated, we end up with dried whole milk. Then there is skim milk, partially skim milk, whey proteins, caseins, butter-oil, anhydrous butter-oil, skim milk powder. Some of these can be modified to produce cultured milk products or milk protein concentrates. The driving force here is economy. By using specific modified milk ingredients, manufacturers can make cheese or ice cream products more cheaply and with longer shelf life. Taste usually suffers.

While the use of these modified milk products may be unappealing, there is no health issue here. All of the components were originally present in milk. In some cases one can even argue for improved health benefits, as in the use of skim milk powder to replace full fat milk. While there is no health concern, there is a political question. The amount of fluid milk that can be imported into Canada without a tariff is limited. But modified milk ingredients fall under different regulations. It is cheaper for manufacturers to make dairy products with imported modified ingredients than with Canadian milk.

5 Responses to “What are modified milk ingredients?”

  1. brittany says:

    dear Avram, your wife may be allergic to the lactose in milk.. I am allergic to lactose. not intolerant. whats happening to your wife are one of two things. Lactose intolerance: our bodies have chromosomes that help us tolerate certain foods. when the lactose chromosome does not fit into our chromosome while being digested it causes us to react in certain ways e.i Lactose intolerance. Allergic reaction: we have certain antibodies that protect our bodies from germs etc… when a person who is allergic to something and eats it… the antibodies determine the food as a threat and begin to attack. therefore causing an allergic reaction. Your wife should go get tested for lactose intolerance and for allergies.

  2. Lindsey says:

    So, I’m not sure i fully understand, forgive me if I’m being a bit sense, my daughter is lactose intolerant and has just recently shown signs that it is getting worse. She enjoys the lactose free milk and cheeses and ice cream, I am just concerned about the labels that say milk ingredients or modified milk ingredients, and practically EVERYTHING says this. Does this mean that it is okay for her because it’s broken down? I know this should be easy to understand, but I am so afraid to give her anything wih those words because she’s been suffering… Please help.

  3. OSS says:

    No need to be concerned. If your wife can digest lactose-free cheeses, then she does not have a milk allergy, but rather lactose intolerance. In which case, your wife could eat these modified milk products and enjoy those waffles without worrying!

  4. Avram Kay says:

    My wife is highly allergic to milk. We are not certain of the cause. However, she manages to digest lactose free cheeses. My question regards products showing modified milk products as part of the constituents of that product, i.e., Frozen Eggo Waffles indicates modifies milk products on the label. Should we be concerned for my wife’s eating a waffle?

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