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The maillard reaction in milk and milk products

, : The maillard reaction in milk and milk products. South African Journal of Dairy Technology 14(1): 11-19

This article reviews the Maillard reaction, which is the specific heat-induced reaction between reducing carbohydrates and free amino groups of amino acids. This reaction eventually leads to the formation of brown pigments or melanoidins. The resulting browning of milk and milk products is an important problem of the dairy industry. The mechanism of the reaction proceeds in 3 stages: In stage 1, sugar and an amino group condense to form a glycosyl amine. The latter is rearranged by Amadori/Heyns mechanisms. At this stage, the products of the reaction are still white and show no absorption in the near UV. In stage 2, sugar and amino acid components break off to form highly reactive carbonyl compounds. The product is colorless or yellow and shows strong absorption in the near UV. In stage 3, the reactive polycarbonyls cause polymerization with formation of protein-carbohydrate polymers or melanoidins which have a decided coloration. The Maillard reaction is influenced by temperature (it is heat-induced) and is influenced by carbohydrates in that only reducing carbohydrate react: pentoses more than hexoses, and to the greatest extent at neutral or slightly alkaline pH. The food value of milk and dairy products is influenced by processing and storage. Temperature and duration are of the greatest importance. Maillard browning can cause considerable protein damage during sterilization and in evaporated milk.

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