Natural cheeses may be pasteurised in order to extend their shelf life. These are so-called processed cheeses, where the fat droplets are dispersed in a concentrated gelled protein network. The emulsion stability of the fat droplets is primarily controlled by casein. Emulsifiers are added to obtain a smooth texture, reduce microbiological growth and lower the amount of emulsifying salts required to obtain a high quality cheese. In order to protect against microbiological activity and avoid dehydration, the cheese is coated with a waxy, plastic coating.
Typically used emulsifiers are mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids (E471). Acetic acid esters of mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids (E472a) are used for the wax.
Cream products, such as coffee creamer and whipped cream, are complex emulsions based on dairy proteins, sugar, fat and emulsifiers.
Coffee creamers exist in three physical forms - liquid, frozen liquid, and powder. All require emulsion stability during storage and when used in hot coffee with a low pH. Emulsifiers facilitate the dispersion of coffee creamer and improve its whitening properties along with the creaminess of coffee.
As an alternative to regular whipped cream, vegetable imitation cream is available with a standard or low fat content. The structure of imitation cream is very similar to the fat and air structure of ice cream. Emulsifiers are used to produce and maintain air bubbles in imitation creams, resulting in a stable product with the desired texture.
Typically used emulsifiers for creamers are polyoxyethylene sorbitan esters (E432 – E436), mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (E471), mono- and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids (E472e) and sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate (E481) and are typically added.
In dairy products such as flavoured milk, chocolate milk and recombined milk (made from milk powder and water), emulsifiers secure the desired emulsion stability, mouthfeel and particle suspension. They also provide stability for long life milk (UHT treated) by preventing separation.
Typically used emulsifiers are lecithin (E322) and mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (E471).
Desserts can be divided into two categories - aerated desserts, such as mousse, and non-aerated desserts, such as custard. Emulsifiers are essential in aerated desserts, where they are used to incorporate air bubbles and provide a fine, regular and highly stable air structure that does not collapse. The also contribute to a creamy mouthfeel. In non-aerated desserts, gums and starch play a more important role to control thickening, gelling and mouthfeel.
Typically used emulsifiers are acetic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acid esters (E472a), lactic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acid esters (E472b) and propane-1,2-diol esters of fatty acids (E477). Each adds a different texture to the dessert.
Ice cream is probably one of the most complex food products - an aerated emulsion of fat, proteins, sugars, gum and emulsifiers containing ice crystals. The emulsifiers provide a smooth, creamy, fine texture with a slower meltdown rate. They also help to reduce freezing time, improve whipping and stabilise the air cells.
Typically used emulsifiers are mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (E471), polyoxyethylene sorbitan esters (E432 – E436) and sucrose esters of fatty acids (E473).
Topping powders are used for aerated desserts, cake decoration and filling creams. They are spray-dried emulsions, typically based on hard vegetable fat with protein. Emulsifiers are added to improve stiffness and incorporate air bubbles and to make the product more easily water-soluble.
Typically used emulsifiers are acetic acid esters of mono-and diglycerides of fatty acid esters (E472a), lactic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (E472b) and propane-1,2-diol esters of fatty acids (E477) and sucrose esters of fatty acids (E473).
Yogurt is produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The fermentation of lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid gives yogurt its characteristic gel-like texture and taste. Emulsifiers are added to improve mouthfeel, improve creaminess and assist with fat dispersion. Microbial growth is also reduced.
Typically used emulsifiers are mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (E471) and sucrose esters of fatty acids (E473).