What makes a good Cheddar cheese crumble? What makes buffalo milk products different? What happens to cheese as it ages and how do our gut bacteria respond to the foods we eat? These are all questions we are seeking to answer using platform technologies available at the Bio21 Institute.
We have a small scale (500g) cheese making facility and are examining the determinants of cheese microstructure to assist the Australian Dairy Industry make cheese with consistent a texture and improve yield. Key techniques include cryo scanning electron microscopy, confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy using the imaging facilities at the Bio21 Institute and rheological and textural characterisation in The Melbourne School of Engineering. We are also studying cheese maturation and are looking at the properties of buffalo milk and milk products to assist the buffalo industry in Australia.
Other food products of interest include high value nutraceutical ingredients or functional foods. We are examining how a range of functional ingredients influence bacterial metabolism during digestion using the Metabolomics Australia and the NMR facilities at the Bio21 Institute and we have a series of collaborations with CSIRO and the Gooley group in this area. We are also interested in the development of new functional foods including glacotoligosaccharides, or GOS, which can be produced from lactose using enzymes. These sugars have great potential for increasing digestive health in the elderly and in newborns.