Winter 2001 Issue — Carbery Food Ingredients Whey Protein Fractions

R&D Manager, Carbery Food Ingredients, Ireland

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The Carbery Group has played a pioneering role in the commercialisation of Whey Protein using membrane technology, and now the "CARBELAC" Brand Is a market leader in Europe, North America and Asia. Applications include infant formulae, health foods, slimming foods, dietetic foods and sport nutrition.

1998 saw the successful launch of "ISOLAC", a range of advanced protein products for use in sports and health food formulations. "ISOLAC", which has an exceptionally balanced nutritional profile, is a Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) containing in excess of 90% protein and little or no fat. The company continued to invest in its whey processing technology and is currently promoting a range of fractions, Hydrolysed Proteins and Natural Calcium ingredients. Applications include Enteral Nutrition, Dietetic Foods, Sports Nutrition, Infant Formulae and Hospital Foods.

Whey Protein Fractions have recently become the focus of attention of many leading nutritional companies, as individual fractions can provide unique benefits in specific applications. Whey Protein Fractions include Alphalactalbumin, Betalactogloblin, Lactoferrin, GlycoMacroPeptide (GMP) and Immunogloblin.

The main whey protein fractions, as they exist in ultra-filtered whey protein concentrate are illustrated here (Fig 1).

Fig. 1

Neutraceutical Significance of Selected Whey Protein Fractions


Whilst Betalactogloblin is the major whey protein in cows' milk - see above - It is either completely absent or present at a very low level in human milk. In contrast, human milk contains approx 40% of Alphalactalbumin. It is also well established that human bovine Alphalactalbumins contain considerable structural homology. Alphalactalbumin is of specific interest to Infant Formula manufacturers as it assists them to develop formulations that closely replicate the composition of human milk.

Of the various protein fractions, Alphalactalbumin is the principal source of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor of a number of neurotransmitters, one of these, Serotonin, helps to regulate appetite, mood, sleeping and waking rhythm.

Summary of Neutraceutical Potential

  • "Humanisation" of Cow's Milk i.e. Infant Formula applications
  • Natural Tryptophan Source
  • Serotonin Precursor

Typical Composition of Carbery's Alphalactalbumin:

Alphalactalbumin/Betalactogloblin Ratio 3:1
Protein 80%
Fat 0.5%
Moisture 5%
Ash 2%
pH 6.0 min


Lactoferrin (LF) binds iron very strongly thus rendering this essential nutrient unavailable to support microbial growth. Additionally, segments of the LF molecule can exert a direct effect on certain strains of bacteria and are also thought to inhibit the attachment of bacteria to the gut wall, therefore reducing the probability of infection. Anti-viral effects of bovine LF against several types of human viruses have been reported and it's likely that LF exerts effects the level of absorption and/or penetration of the viruses. Another biological function ascribed to LF is the protection against oxidative damage by scavenging radicals from hydrogen peroxide produced as a result of microbial respiration, thus allowing the animal's cells own peroxidase to harmlessly breakdown the hydrogen peroxide. The most important use of LF to date has been in infant formula, particularly in Asia. In addition, considerable medical interest exists as LF is undergoing clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of diseases.

Summary of Nutraceutical Potential

  • Antibacterial agent - Infant Formulae
  • Source of Branched Chain Amino Acids - Sports Food Formulations
  • Medical Applications


GlycoMacroPeptide (GMP) is a hydrophilic peptide moiety of kappa-casein which keeps micellar casein in aqueous solution (i.e. in milk). It is its cleavage by rennet (chymosin) during the cheese making process which renders micellar casein unsoluble, thus forming cheese curd. This same cleavage takes place in the stomach following consumption of milk and GMP is the first hydrolysis product emptied from the stomach after ingestion. In the duodenum, it stimulates the synthesis and the release of the hormone cholecystoknin (CCK). The two important physical events triggered by CCK during digestion are the release of the pancreatic enzymes and the contraction and emptying of the gall bladder/hepatic bile duct. The pancreatic enzymes are critical for the complete digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates and therefore the full nutritional realization of food. Also, CCK has the effect of slowing the overall digestive process by slowing intestinal contractions, thus giving the digestive enzymes more time to work on their respective substrates resulting in more complete absorption of a given digestive loading. In fact, there is interest in GMP as an appetite because by slowing digestion one perceives the "full" feeling longer following a meal, thus possibly discouraging between meal snacking.

Summary of Nutraceutical Potential

  • Dietetic Applications - Appetite Suppressant Properties
  • Dental Applications - Caries Reducing Properties
  • Bifidoenhancing Properties

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