THE International Dairy Federation (IDF) today released guidance on the determination of milk-fat purity, providing important additional direction to both scientists and non-scientists involved in the testing of milk and dairy products.

Milk-fat is an important component of milk and most dairy products. In addition to having a nutritional impact, it also provides numerous benefits to food products including flavour enhancement and desirable mouth-feel.

However, the high price of milk-fat means that it is susceptible to replacement by other animal fats or vegetable oils. Non-reporting of lower-quality ingredients risks the quality of dairy products and subsequently their reputation with consumers.

Lead author Dr Alastair MacGibbon said: “The dairy sector is often required to prove the authenticity of its product against potential adulteration with vegetable oils or other animal fats.

"By providing this additional background information and guidance, we aim to assist both those who desire to set up the method and those who need a general understanding to interpret the results the method produces.”

The new guidance aims to provide background information for those carrying out the testing to enable the method to be more easily incorporated into the laboratory. In addition, guidance on the interpretation of results is provided, which might assist managers, customers or regulators who do not need to know how work is carried out but do need to be able to place the result in context.

It is also hoped that greater knowledge of the testing and its advantages could lead to the replacement of some of the older test methods used in some regional regulations with this IDF/ISO standard, increasing harmonisation.