Use of micellar casein concentrate and milk protein concentrate treated with transglutaminase in imitation cheese products—Unmelted texture

P. Salunke, C. Marella, J. K. Amamcharla, K. Muthukumarappan, L. E. Metzger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The amount of intact casein provided by dairy ingredients is a critical parameter in dairy-based imitation mozzarella cheese (IMC) formulation because it has a significant effect on unmelted textural parameters such as hardness. From a functionality perspective, rennet casein (RCN) is the preferred ingredient. Milk protein concentrate (MPC) and micellar casein concentrate (MCC) cannot provide the required functionality due to the higher steric stability of casein micelle. However, the use of transglutaminase (TGase) has the potential to modify the surface properties of MPC and MCC and may improve their functionality in IMC. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of TGase-treated MPC and MCC powders on the unmelted textural properties of IMC and compare them with IMC made using commercially available RCN. Additionally, we studied the degree of crosslinking by TGase in MPC and MCC retentates using capillary gel electrophoresis. Three lots of MCC and MPC retentate were produced from pasteurized skim milk via microfiltration and ultrafiltration, respectively, and randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments: no TGase (control); low TGase: 0.3 units/g of protein; and high TGase: 3.0 units/g of protein, followed by inactivation of enzyme (72°C for 10 min), and spray drying. Each MCC, MPC, and RCN was then used to formulate IMC that was standardized to 21% fat, 1% salt, 48% moisture, and 20% protein. The IMC were manufactured by blending, mixing, and heating ingredients (4.0 kg) in a twin-screw cooker. The capillary gel electrophoresis analysis showed extensive inter- and intramolecular crosslinking. The IMC formulation using the highest TGase level in MCC or MPC did not form an emulsion because of extensive crosslinking. In MPC with a high level of TGase, whey protein and casein crosslinking were observed. In contrast, crosslinking and hydrolysis of proteins were observed in MCC. The IMC made from MCC powder had significantly higher texture profile analysis hardness compared with the corresponding MPC powder. Further, many-to-one (multiple) comparisons using the Dunnett test showed no significant differences between IMC made using RCN and treatment powders in hardness. Our results demonstrated that TGase treatment causes crosslinking hydrolysis of MCC and MPC at higher TGase levels, and MPC and MCC have the potential to be used as ingredients in IMC applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7891-7903
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes

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© 2022 American Dairy Science Association


  • imitation mozzarella cheese functionality
  • micellar casein concentrate
  • milk protein concentrate
  • rennet casein
  • transglutaminase


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