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Title:
PROTEASES FOR HIGH PROTEIN FERMENTED MILK PRODUCTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/164096
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present disclosure provides compositions, methods, and uses concerning the preparation of a fermented milk product having a high protein content such as high protein yogurt, Greek yogurt, Labneh or sour cream comprising application of a microorganism and an exogenous protease to a milk substrate having a protein content of at least or greater than 6.5%. Application of proteases of the classes EC 3.4.21 (serine endopeptidases), EC 3.4.24 (metalloendopeptidases) and EC 3.4.17 (metallocarboxypeptidases) is envisaged. Especially application of neutrase (Protex 7L) and Protex 6L resulted in a decreased viscosity and a good flavour.

Inventors:
EISELE, Thomas (Østergaards Allé 153, 8362 Horning, Horning, DK)
BEJDER, Hans Christian (Edwin Rahrs Vej 38, 8220 Brabrand, Brabrand, DK)
VARGAS, Enrique Guillermo D'Argence (Lundingsgade 11 2th, Aarhus, 8000 Midtjylland, Midtjylland, DK)
Application Number:
US2016/015299
Publication Date:
October 13, 2016
Filing Date:
January 28, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
DUPONT NUTRITION BIOSCIENCES APS (Langebrogade 1, Copenhagen K, K, DK)
International Classes:
A23C1/14; A23C9/12; A23C9/123; A23C9/127; A23C9/14; A23C9/142
Domestic Patent References:
WO2003047358A12003-06-12
WO2014095543A12014-06-26
WO1989006279A11989-07-13
WO1989006270A11989-07-13
WO1994025583A11994-11-10
WO1992019729A11992-11-12
WO1998020115A11998-05-14
WO2014177644A12014-11-06
WO2004085607A22004-10-07
Foreign References:
US20050095316A12005-05-05
EP1186244A22002-03-13
US4379170A1983-04-05
EP0981965A12000-03-01
US6287841B12001-09-11
Other References:
HEMANTHA KUMAR H R ET AL: "EFFECTS OF ENZYMATIC MODIFICATION OF MILK PROTEINS ON FLAVOUR AND TEXTURAL QUALITIES OF SET YOGHURT", JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE, vol. 81, no. 1, 27 November 2000 (2000-11-27), internet, pages 42 - 45, XP000976914, ISSN: 0022-5142
G V VIJAYA ET AL: "Effect of enzymatic hydrolysis of proteins on growth of Bifidobacterium bifidus in milk", JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE, vol. 82, no. 5, 15 February 2002 (2002-02-15), GB, pages 493 - 496, XP055280114, ISSN: 0022-5142, DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.1058
QINGLI ZHANG ET AL: "Influence of casein hydrolysates on the growth and lactic acid production of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus", INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY., vol. 46, no. 5, 28 March 2011 (2011-03-28), GB, pages 1014 - 1020, XP055280294, ISSN: 0950-5423, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.2011.02578.x
SINGLETON ET AL.: "DICTIONARY OF MICROBIOLOGY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, 20 ED.,", 1994, JOHN WLEY AND SONS
HALE; MARHAM: "THE HARPER COLLINS DICTIONARY OF BIOLOGY", 1991, HARPER PERENNIAL
BIOCHEM.J., vol. 290, 1993, pages 205 - 218
BEAULIEU, M.; POULIOT, Y.; POULIOT, M.: "Thermal aggregation of whey proteins in model solutions as affected by casein/whey protein ratios", JOURNAL OF FOOD SCIENCE, vol. 64, no. 5, 1999, pages 776 - 780
CAMPBELL, W. W.; LEIDY, H. J.: "Dietary protein and resistance training effects on muscle and body composition in older persons", JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF NUTRITION, vol. 26, no. 6, 2007, pages 696 - 703
CHEVER, S.; GUYOMARC'H, F.; BEAUCHER, E.; FAMELART, M.H.: "High-protein fat-free acid milk gels: Control of protein composition and heat treatment", INTERNATIONAL DAIRY JOURNAL, vol. 37, 2014, pages 95 - 103
HAYES, A.; CRIBB, P. J.: "Effect of whey protein isolate on strength, body composition and muscle hypertrophy during resistance training", CURRENT OPINION IN CLINICAL NUTRITION AND METABOLIC CARE, vol. 11, no. 1, 2008, pages 40 - 44
JENNESS, R.; PATTON, S.: "Principles of Dairy Chemistry", 1959, CHAPMAN & HALL LTD.
LOVEDAY, S. M.; HINDMARSH, J. P.; CREAMER, L. K.; SINGH, H.: "Physicochemical changes in a model protein bar during storage", FOOD RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL, vol. 42, 2009, pages 798 - 806
LUHOVYY, B. L.; AKHAVAN, T.; ANDERSON, G. H.: "Whey proteins in the regulation of food intake and satiety", JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF NUTRITION, vol. 26, no. 6, 2007, pages 704 - 712
PURWANTI, N.; VAN DER GOOT, A. J.; BOOM, R.; VEREIJKEN, J.: "New directions towards structure formation and stability of protein-rich foods from globular proteins", TRENDS IN FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, vol. 21, 2010, pages 85 - 94
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCOTT, Robert S. (E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company Legal, Patent Records Center Chestnut Run Plaza,721/2340974 Centre Road, PO Box 291, Wilmington Delaware, 19805, US)
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Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A method for preparing a fermented milk product, the method comprising:

(a) treating a milk substrate comprising a protein content of 4% (w/w) or higher with one or more proteases and a microorganism; and

(b) allowing the treated milk substrate to ferment to produce the fermented milk product.

2. The method as claimed in claim 1 , characterized in that the protein content of the milk substrate is 10% (w/w) or higher.

3. The method of claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the milk substrate is fortified with protein or concentrated in order to increase its protein content to at least 4% (w/w).

4. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein one of said one or more proteases belongs to Enzyme Commission (E.C.) No. 3.4.17, 3.4.21 or 3.4.24.

5. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein one of said one or more proteases is from family M4. 6. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein one of said one or more proteases is a metalloprotease.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein said protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.3.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein said protease has at least 90% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.3. 9. The method of claim 8, wherein said protease has at least 95% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.3.

10. The method of any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein one of said one or more proteases is a subtilisin, a serine protease, an acid protease, or a neutral protease.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein said protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.1.

12. The method of claim 1 1 , wherein said protease has at least 90% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.1.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein said protease has at least 95% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.1.

14. The method of claim 10, wherein said protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.2.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein said protease has at least 90% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.2.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said protease has at least 95% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.2.

17. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said milk substrate is treated with said one or more proteases prior to a pasteurization step. 18. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said one or more proteases are added together with said microorganism.

19. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a subtilisin, a serine protease, an acid protease, or a neutral protease is added to the milk substrate prior to a pasteurization step.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein a subtilisin or a serine protease is added to the milk substrate prior to a pasteurization step.

21. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a metal loprotease is added together with said microorganism.

22. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a subtilisin or a serine protease is added to the milk substrate prior to a pasteurization step and wherein a metalloprotease is added together with said microorganism.

23. The method of claims 19, 20 or 22, wherein said subtilisin or serine protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.1 or SEQ ID No.2.

24. The method of claim 21 or 22, wherein the metalloprotease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.3.

25. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the microorganism is a lactic acid bacterium.

26. A method according to claim 25, wherein the microorganism is of the genus Streptococcus, Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pseudoleuconostoc, Pediococcus, Propionibacterium,

Enterococcus, Brevibacterium, or Bifidobacterium or any combination thereof.

27. A method according to claim 25 or 26, wherein the microorganism is the thermophilic culture YO-MIX™ 860.

28. A fermented milk product obtainable by the method as claimed in any of the preceding claims.

29. A fermented milk product which has a protein content of 4% (w/w) or higher and which comprises one or more exogenous proteases and an exogenous microorganism.

30. A fermented milk product of claim 29, characterized in that the protein content of the milk substrate is 10% (w/w) or higher.

31. A fermented milk product of claim 29 or 30, characterized in that the milk substrate is fortified with protein or concentrated in order to increase its protein content to at least 4% (w/w).

32. A fermented milk product of any one of the claims 29-31 , wherein one of said one or more proteases belongs to Enzyme Commission (E.C.) No. 3.4.17, 3.4.21 or 3.4.24.

33. A fermented milk product of any one of claims 29-32, wherein one of said one or more proteases is from family M4. 34. A fermented milk product of any one of claims 29-33, wherein one of said one or more proteases is a metalloprotease.

35. A fermented milk product of any one of claims 29-31 , wherein one of said one or more proteases is a subtilisin, a serine protease, an acid protease, or a neutral protease.

36. A fermented milk product according to any one of claims 29-25, wherein the microorganism is a lactic acid bacterium.

37. A fermented milk product according to claim 36, wherein the microorganism is of the genus Streptococcus, Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pseudoleuconostoc, Pediococcus,

Propionibacterium, Enterococcus, Brevi bade um or Bifidobacterium or any combination thereof.

38. A fermented milk product according to claim 25 or 26, wherein the microorganism is the thermophilic culture YO-MIX™ 860.

39. A fermented milk product according to any one of claims 28 to 38, wherein the fermented milk product is a high protein yogurt, Greek yogurt, Labneh or sour cream. 40. Use of a protease in the production of a fermented high protein milk product for :

(a) improving viscosity;

(b) improving gel strength;

(c) improving texture;

(d) improving firmness of curd; (e) providing earlier onset of fermentation;

(f) providing earlier onset of gelation;

(g) providing earlier conclusion of fermentation;

(h) reducing syneresis;

(i) improving shelf life;

(j) improving flavor;

(k) reducing stickiness; or

(I) any combination of (a) to (k). 41. A method, fermented milk product or use as substantially hereinbefore described with reference to any one of the Examples.

Description:
TITLE

PROTEASES FOR HIGH PROTEIN FERMENTED MILK PRODUCTS

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

THIS APPLICATION CLAIMS PRIORITY TO AND THE BENEFIT OF UNITED STATES

PROVISIONAL PATENT APPLICATION NUMBER 62/143,639 TITLED "PROTEASES FOR HIGH PROTEIN FERMENTED MILK PRODUCTS", FILED APRIL 6, 2015.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE OF THE SEQUENCE LISTING

The sequence listing provided in the file named "20160126_NB40943PCT_ST25.txt" with a size of 73,308 bytes which was created on January 26, 2016 and which is filed herewith, is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an enzymatic method of preparing a fermented milk product. The method the method comprises treating a milk substrate comprising a protein content of 4% (w/w) or higher with one or more proteases and a microorganism; and allowing the treated milk substrate to ferment to produce the fermented milk product.

BACKGROUND

Recent studies described the positive effects a higher protein intake can have, such as a better body weight control, higher muscle strength, and the delay in onset of sacropenia (Loveday et al., 2009; Luhovyy et al., 2007; Hayes & Cribb, 2008; Campbell & Leidy, 2007). These positive effects led to a growing demand for protein-enriched products and drove the food-industry to develop more and better products and dealing with the problem of a general low stability of high-protein foods (Labuza et al., 2007; Zhou & Labuza, 2006). One of the major problems in high protein food is that it often changes in nutritive and physical properties over time. Yogurts with high-protein content may show changes in nutritive as well as of technical properties. While the nutritive changes are mostly advantageous, like the emphasis of the feeling of satiety, the technical properties, for example, the characteristic thickening and gelling properties, cause processing, textural, and rheological changes. In most cases these changes are not favorable (Bertenshaw et al., 2008; Purwanti et al., 2010).

In yogurt, the higher protein content produces a tighter product matrix, where the distance between proteins is reduced, resulting in product hardening and syneresis during storage (Purwanti et al., 2010; Labuza et al., 2007; Zhou & Labuza, 2006). Additionally, aggregation may take place within protein-enriched dairy suspensions during the common heat treatment (Singh & Nath, 2004). Furthermore, the sensory properties are affected by these textural changes, changing sensory properties of the yogurt in terms of firmness, viscosity, and visual appearance, which contribute to acceptability of these products by the consumer (Lee & Lucey, 2004 a,b; Lucey, 2002).

The present disclosure solves these problems by providing compositions, methods, and uses that improve properties (e.g. rheological properties) of high protein milk products, e.g. viscosity of yogurt products and the overall acceptability. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure provides compositions and methods for the preparation of milk products.

Aspects and embodiments of the compositions and methods are set forth in the following separately numbered paragraphs.

1. A method for preparing a fermented milk product, the method comprising:

(a) treating a milk substrate comprising a protein content of 4% (w/w) or higher with one or more proteases and a microorganism; and

(b) allowing the treated milk substrate to ferment to produce the fermented milk product.

2. The method as claimed in paragraph 1 , characterized in that the protein content of the milk substrate is 10% (w/w) or higher.

3. The method of paragraph 1 or 2, characterized in that the milk substrate is fortified with protein or concentrated in order to increase its protein content to at least 4% (w/w). 4. The method of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein one of said one or more proteases belongs to Enzyme Commission (E.C.) No. 3.4.17, 3.4.21 or 3.4.24.

5. The method of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein one of said one or more proteases is from family M4.

6. The method of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein one of said one or more proteases is a metalloprotease.

7. The method of paragraph 6, wherein said protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.3.

8. The method of paragraph 7, wherein said protease has at least 90% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.3.

9. The method of paragraph 8, wherein said protease has at least 95% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.3.

10. The method of any one of paragraphs 1 to 3, wherein one of said one or more proteases is a subtilisin, a serine protease, an acid protease, or a neutral protease.

11. The method of paragraph 10, wherein said protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.1.

12. The method of paragraph 1 1 , wherein said protease has at least 90% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.1.

13. The method of paragraph 12, wherein said protease has at least 95% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.1.

14. The method of paragraph 10, wherein said protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.2.

15. The method of paragraph 14, wherein said protease has at least 90% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.2.

16. The method of paragraph 15, wherein said protease has at least 95% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.2.

17. The method of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein said milk substrate is treated with said one or more proteases prior to a pasteurization step.

18. The method of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein said one or more proteases are added together with said microorganism. 19. The method of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein a subtilisin, a serine protease, an acid protease, or a neutral protease is added to the milk substrate prior to a pasteurization step.

20. The method of paragraph 19, wherein a subtilisin or a serine protease is added to the milk substrate prior to a pasteurization step.

21. The method of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein a metalloprotease is added together with said microorganism.

22. The method of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein a subtilisin or a serine protease is added to the milk substrate prior to a pasteurization step and wherein a

metalloprotease is added together with said microorganism.

23. The method of paragraphs 19, 20 or 22, wherein said subtilisin or serine protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No.1 or SEQ ID No.2.

24. The method of paragraph 21 or 22, wherein the metalloprotease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.3.

25. A method according to any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein the microorganism is a lactic acid bacterium.

26. A method according to paragraph 25, wherein the microorganism is of the genus Streptococcus, Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pseudoleuconostoc, Pediococcus,

Propionibacterium, Enterococcus, Brevi bade um, or Bifidobacterium or any combination thereof.

27. A method according to paragraph 25 or 26, wherein the microorganism is the thermophilic culture YO-MIX™ 860.

28. A fermented milk product obtainable by the method as claimed in any of the preceding paragraphs.

29. A fermented milk product which has a protein content of 4% (w/w) or higher and which comprises one or more exogenous proteases and an exogenous microorganism.

30. A fermented milk product of paragraph 29, characterized in that the protein content of the milk substrate is 10% (w/w) or higher.

31. A fermented milk product of paragraph 29 or 30, characterized in that the milk substrate is fortified with protein or concentrated in order to increase its protein content to at least 4% (w/w). 32. A fermented milk product of any one of paragraphs 29-31 , wherein one of said one or more proteases belongs to Enzyme Commission (E.C.) No. 3.4.17, 3.4.21 or 3.4.24.

33. A fermented milk product of any one of paragraphs 29-32, wherein one of said one or more proteases is from family M4.

34. A fermented milk product of any one of paragraphs 29-33, wherein one of said one or more proteases is a metalloprotease.

35. A fermented milk product of any one of paragraphs 29-31 , wherein one of said one or more proteases is a subtilisin, a serine protease, an acid protease, or a neutral protease.

36. A fermented milk product according to any one of paragraphs 29-25, wherein the microorganism is a lactic acid bacterium.

37. A fermented milk product according to paragraph 36, wherein the microorganism is of the genus Streptococcus, Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pseudoleuconostoc, Pediococcus, Propionibacterium, Enterococcus, Brevibacterium or Bifidobacterium or any combination thereof.

38. A fermented milk product according to paragraph 25 or 26, wherein the

microorganism is the thermophilic culture YO-MIX™ 860.

39. A fermented milk product according to any one of paragraphs 28 to 38, wherein the fermented milk product is a high protein yogurt, Greek yogurt, Labneh or sour cream.

40. Use of a protease in the production of a fermented high protein milk product for : (a) improving viscosity;

(b) improving gel strength;

(c) improving texture;

(d) improving firmness of curd;

(e) providing earlier onset of fermentation;

(f) providing earlier onset of gelation;

(g) providing earlier conclusion of fermentation;

(h) reducing syneresis;

(i) improving shelf life;

(j) improving flavor;

(k) reducing stickiness; or

(I) any combination of (a) to (k).

41. A method, fermented milk product or use as substantially hereinbefore described with reference to any one of the Examples. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A better understanding of the features and advantages of the present invention will be obtained by reference to the following detailed description that sets forth illustrative embodiments, in which the principles of the invention are utilized, and the accompanying drawings of which: Figure 1 shows the effect of P7L addition 90 min before pasteurization on shear viscosity of stirred yogurt with a protein content of 10 %, after 5 days of storage. Milk standardized with SMP and fermented using YM 410 at 43 °C to a final pH of 4.6.

Figures 2A- 2D show the effect of P6L addition on shear viscosity of stirred yogurt with a protein content of 10 %. After 14 days of storage at 5 °C. (A: YM 860, SMP; B: YM 860, MP70; C: YM 410, SMP; D: YM 410, MP70) Fermentation conditions: 43 °C, pH: 4.6

Figure 3A-3D show the effect of P6L and P7L addition after pasteurization on shear viscosity of stirred yogurt with a protein content of 10 %. After 5 days of storage at 5 °C. (P6L: A: SMP; B:

MP70; P7L: C: SMP; D: MP70) Fermentation conditions: 43 °C, pH: 4.6

Figure 4 shows stdl for samples 1-4 from Example 2.

Figure 5 shows Energy for samples 1-4 from Example 2.

Figure 6 shows hotRatio for samples 1-4 from Example 2.

Figure 7 shows nearhotRatio for samples 1-4 from Example 2.

Figure 8 A and B show Seq ID No. 1 and Seq ID. No. 2, respectively.

Figure 9 A- U show the sequence of several enzymes.

Figure 10 shows an increase of apparent viscosity in Labneh fermentations with and without

NP7L addition.

Figure 11 shows the predicted thickness in mouth of Labneh fermentations with and without NP7L addition.

Figure 12 shows the predicted stickiness in mouth of Labneh fermentations with and without NP7L addition.

Figure 13 shows an increase of apparent viscosity (up-curves) in sour cream containing 9% (w/w) fat with and without NP7L addition.

Figure 14 shows predicted "thickness in mouth" of sour cream fermentations (with protein fortification, with NP7L or both in combination)

Figure 15 shows the predicted stickiness in mouth of sour cream fermentations (with protein fortification, with NP7L or both in combination). Figure 16 shows a spidergraph of a sensory evaluation of an 9% (w/w) fat containing sour cream with and without addition of NP7L (***both enzymated samples are different from the non-enzymated (p < 0.05)).

Figure 17 shows a spidergraph of prior to fermentation concentrated milk followed by lactic acid fermentation (YO-MIX 860, 43 C; 1.5% (w/w) fat; with and without NP7L addition; ***p < 0.001 , **p < 0.01 , *p < 0.05).

Figure 18 shows a spidergraph of prior to fermentation concentrated milk followed by lactic acid fermentation (YO-MIX 860, 43 C; 0.25% (w/w) fat; with and without NP7L addition; ***p < 0.001 , **p < 0.01 , *p < 0.05).

Figure 19 shows sensory analyses of fortified high protein containing yogurt with 8% (w/w) protein (A) and 9% (w/w) protein (B).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure provides methods, apparatuses, compositions and kits that improve properties of high protein milk products. In some embodiments, the present disclosure provides methods, apparatuses, compositions and kits that improve properties of high protein- enriched milk products by using one or more enzymes. In some embodiments, the present disclosure provides methods, apparatuses, compositions and kits that improve rheological properties and the overall acceptability of fermented protein-enriched milk products , e.g.

viscosity of protein-enriched yogurt products.

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure belongs. Singleton, et al., DICTIONARY OF MICROBIOLOGY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, 20 ED., John Wiley and Sons, New York (1994), and Hale & Marham, THE HARPER COLLINS DICTIONARY OF BIOLOGY, Harper Perennial, NY (1991) provide one of skill with a general dictionary of many of the terms used in this disclosure.

This disclosure is not limited by the exemplary methods and materials disclosed herein, and any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of embodiments of this disclosure. Numeric ranges are inclusive of the numbers defining the range. Unless otherwise indicated, any nucleic acid sequences are written left to right in 5' to 3' orientation; amino acid sequences are written left to right in amino to carboxy orientation, respectively. The headings provided herein are not limitations of the various aspects or embodiments of this disclosure which can be had by reference to the specification as a whole. Accordingly, the terms defined immediately below are more fully defined by reference to the specification as a whole.

It must be noted that as used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms "a",

"an", and "the" include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to "a protease" includes a plurality of such enzymes and reference to "the feed" includes reference to one or more feeds and equivalents thereof known to those skilled in the art, and so forth.

The publications discussed herein are provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that such publications constitute prior art to the claims appended hereto.

Milk Products

In some embodiments the present invention provides methods, apparatuses, compositions and kits that improve properties of fermented milk products.

A "fermented milk product" is a product, preferably an edible product, which may also be referred to as a "food product" or "feed product". The fermented milk product is a product produced by fermentation with a microorganism (as defined below).

In some embodiments, the fermented milk product is a dairy product, preferably a yogurt, a Greek yogurt, a Labneh, a frozen yogurt, a cheese (such as an acid curd cheese, a hard cheese, a semi-hard cheese, a cottage cheese), a butter, a buttermilk, quark, a sour cream, kefir, a fermented whey-based beverage, a koumiss, a milk beverage, a yoghurt drink, a fermented milk, a matured cream, a fromage frais, a milk, a fermented milk, a milk curd, a dairy product retentate, a processed cheese, a cottage cheese, a cream dessert, or infant milk.

In some embodiments the fermented milk product is a yogurt, preferably a set yogurt or a stirred yogurt.

A stirred yogurt has been stirred after fermentation for at least 5 to 60 seconds. Most preferably, a stirred yogurt has been stirred after fermentation for at least 10 seconds. Most preferably, a stirred yogurt has been stirred after fermentation for at least 20 seconds. In a preferred embodiment, a stirred yogurt has been stirred after fermentation for at least 30 seconds. Stirring can be carried out with a hand mixer or electric mixer. A set yogurt is not stirred after fermentation. After fermentation a set yogurt may be cooled and then stored. This is carried out without stirring.

The phrase "after fermentation" as used above means when fermentation is ended. Fermentation preferably ends when a specific pH of the fermenting culture is reached. This pH is preferably between 3 and 6, most preferably between 4 and 5. In one embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.1. In a further embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.2. In another embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.3. In another embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.4. In another embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.5. In another embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.6. In another embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.7. In another embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.8. In a further embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.9. In some embodiments, fermentation ends at a pH which inactivates, or reduces the activity of a low pH sensitive peptidase used as described below. This is pH 4.6-4.8.

As used herein, the term "yoghurt" is an alternative spelling of "yogurt" with an identical meaning.

In a preferred embodiment, the fermented milk product is stirred during or following the fermentation step. Preferably stirring is carried out for at least 5 to 60 seconds, or more than 60 seconds. In one embodiment stirring is carried out for, at least 10 to 30 seconds. In a further embodiment stirring is carried out for at least 12 to 20 seconds. In a preferred embodiment stirring is carried out for at least 15 seconds. Stirring can be carried out with a hand mixer or electric mixer.

In one embodiment, the fermented milk product is cooled, preferably immediately. This cooling may take place for example, using a water bath or heat exchanger. Preferably the fermented milk product is cooled to 20-30°C. Most preferably the fermented milk product is cooled to around 25°C or to 25°C.

Alternatively, in one embodiment the fermented milk product is cooled to a lower temperature of 1-10°C, most preferably 4-6°C. In one embodiment this cooling is carried out slowly by placing the fermented milk product in a cold room or refrigerator.

In a preferred embodiment the fermented milk product is cooled immediately to 20-30°C, most preferably to around 25°C or to 25°C. Then the fermented milk product is cooled for a second time, but this time to 1-10°C, most preferably 4-6°C. In one embodiment the fermented milk product is cooled for a second time to 3°C. In another embodiment the fermented milk product is cooled for a second time to 4°C. In a further embodiment the fermented milk product is cooled for a second time to 5°C. In some embodiments the second cooling is carried out slowly, for example over 10 to 48 hours. In one embodiment, cooling is carried out over 12 to 20 hours. In a preferred embodiment cooling is carried out over 15 to 20 hours. In a most preferred embodiment cooling is carried out over 10 hours or cooling is carried out over 15 hours. Most preferably this second cooling is carried out in a cold room or refrigerator.

In some embodiments, the stirring described above is carried out immediately after fermentation and before any cooling step. Stirring may also be carried out between two cooling steps.

The method of the invention may further include a storage step after fermentation. This may be carried out after stirring and/or cooling (one or more times), preferably after both.

The fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has one or more of the following features:

(a) improved viscosity; (b) improved gel strength; (c) improved texture; (d) improved firmness of curd; (e) earlier onset of fermentation; (f) earlier onset of gelation; (g) earlier conclusion of fermentation; (h) reduced syneresis; (i) improved shelf-life; (j) improved flavor (e.g. less off- flavor); (k) decreased stickiness; or (I) any combination of (a) to (k).

In one embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has improved viscosity.

In one embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has improved gel strength.

In one embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has improved texture.

In a further embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has improved firmness of curd.

In one embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has earlier onset of fermentation.

In a further embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has earlier onset of gelation.

In a preferred embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has earlier conclusion of fermentation.

In one embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has reduced syneresis.

In a preferred embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has improved shelf-life. In a preferred embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has improved flavor.

In a preferred embodiment, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has decreased stickiness.

These features change the texture of the fermented milk product, preferably a yogurt, and also change the mouthfeel and taste. In some embodiments, the fermented milk product produced by the methods of the current invention has improved taste, e.g., less off-flavor and/or less bitterness.

The fermented milk product of the current invention also has a longer shelf life than a fermented milk product, most preferably a yogurt, which is not produced by the method of the invention and/or not produced using the one or more enzymes described herein.

As used herein, a "longer shelf-life" means that the fermented milk product can be stored for longer without a change in the texture, mouthfeel or taste, or an increase in syneresis of the product.

Storage is preferably carried out at a low temperature, preferably less than 10°C, most preferably 0-10°C and more preferably 4-6°C.

In some embodiments, the shelf-life is of the fermented milk product, most preferably a yogurt, produced by the method of the invention is increased by 5 to 28 days compared to a fermented milk product which is not produced by the method of the invention and/or not produced using the one or more enzymes described herein.

In some embodiments, the shelf-life is of the fermented milk product, produced by the method of the invention is increased by 5 to 28 days compared to a fermented milk product which is not produced by the method of the invention and/or not produced using the enzymes described herein.

When two fermented milk products are compared, such as a product produced by the methods of the invention compared to one produced by other methods, they should be the same type of fermented milk product, for example a yogurt. This is illustrated in the examples.

As used herein, the term "milk substrate" may encompass any milk or milk product. In particular the milk substrate may be of animal origin, in particular cow milk, ewe milk or goat milk. In one embodiment, the milk substrate may be reduced fat milk, 1 % fat milk, 0.1 % fat milk, semi-skimmed milk or a skimmed milk (also known as semi-skim milk and skim milk

respectively). The milk substrate may also be a blended milk. A milk substrate is the starting material to which the method of the invention as described herein is applied. An "inoculated milk substrate" as used herein means a milk substrate with lactic acid bacteria (LAB) added to it.

The milk substrate used in the method of the invention has a protein content of 4% (w/w) or higher. For example, the milk substrate may have a protein content of 4.5%, 5%, 5.5%, 6%, 6.5%, 7%, 7.5%, 8%, 8.5%, 9%, 9.5% or 10% (w/w) or more. Protein content is typically measured in terms of protein weight to volume (w/v) or protein weight to total weight (w/w). Where it is not specified herein, it may be assumed that the measurement of protein content is in terms of protein weight to total weight (w/w). Milk substrates or fermented milk products that have a protein content of 4% (w/w) or greater are referred to herein as "high protein".

The density of milk will typically fall within 1.026 kg/L to 1.034 kg/L at 20 °C. Non-fat milk has higher density than full fat milk, and higher protein leads to higher density. The density of milk is given by the densities of its constituents according to their mass content. The following densities of milk components (at 20 °C) mainly contribute to milk density: water 0.998 g/cm3; fat 0.931 g/cm3; proteins 1.451 g/cm3 (average); lactose 1.545 g/cm3 (average); salts 3.000 g/cm3. Since milk has a typical density of approximately 1 kg/L, protein content measured or expressed in terms of either protein weight to volume (w/v) or protein weight to total weight (w/w) will provide very similar results, and so may be treated as equivalent measurements.

The milk substrate may be standardized or homogenized. For example, the milk substrate may be standardized at 1 to 20% or more protein content (w/w). In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at 4-15% protein (w/w). In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at or about 6% protein (w/w). In other embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at or about 10% protein (w/w). In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at about higher than 4% or at about higher than 10% protein (w/w).

Alternatively, the milk substrate may be standardized at 1 to 20% or more protein weight to volume (w/v). In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at 4-15% protein w/v. In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at or about 6% protein w/v. In other embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at or about 10% protein w/v. In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at about higher than 4% or at about higher than 10% protein w/v.

In some embodiments, the milk substrate is fortified with protein. In one embodiment, the milk substrate is fortified with milk protein such as skimmed milk powder, milk protein (e.g. MP 70) or whey protein concentrate (e.g. WPC 80). In some embodiments, milk substrates that have been fortified with additional proteins are standardized at 4 to 20% or more protein (w/w). In some embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional proteins may be standardized at 4-15% protein (w/w). In some embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional proteins may be standardized at or about 4% protein (w/w). In some embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional proteins may be standardized at or about 6% protein (w/w). In other embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional proteins may be standardized at or about 10% protein (w/w). In some embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional proteins may be standardized at higher than 4% or at higher than 10% protein w/w.

In some embodiments, milk substrates that have been fortified with additional milk proteins are standardized at 4 to 20% or more protein weight to volume (w/v). In some embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional milk proteins may be standardized at 4-15% protein w/v. In some embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional milk proteins may be standardized at or about 4% protein w/v. In some embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional milk proteins may be standardized at or about 6% protein w/v. In other embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional milk proteins may be standardized at or about 10% protein w/v. In some embodiments, the milk substrate that has been fortified with additional milk proteins may be standardized at higher than 4% or at higher than 10% protein w/v.

In some embodiments, the milk substrate is concentrated in order to increase the protein content. The milk substrate may be subjected to ultrafiltration or evaporation in order to concentrate the milk.

In a preferred embodiment, the milk is concentrated using ultrafiltration before fermentation, instead of applying a separator method post-fermentation. One advantage of this approach is a higher yield per liter of milk as most of the whey proteins will be in the concentrate after ultrafiltration whereas these are lost in the separator method. Another advantage is that no acidic whey is produced. Acidic way has little value as it is difficult to process due to the low pH and is often used as animal feed at a cost to the dairy. In contrast, the eluate from ultrafiltration can be used for production of lactose or lactose and mineral containing powder. A further advantage is that less fermentation tank capacity required, such as approximately 50% capacity. Furthermore, the ultrafiltration technique allows for better control of protein content in final product.

The milk substrate may be standardized at 0 to 5 % or more fat w/v. In one embodiment the milk substrate may be standardized at 0-1 % fat w/v. In a preferred embodiment the milk substrate may be standardized at about 0.1 % or at 0.1 % fat w/v. In another embodiment the milk substrate may be standardized at about 0.025% to 0.05% fat w/v. In a further embodiment the milk substrate may be standardized at about 0.025% to 0.05% fat w/v. In a further embodiment the milk substrate may be standardized at about 1 % to 5% fat w/v. In a preferred embodiment the milk substrate may be standardized at about 2% to 4% fate w/v. In a further embodiment the milk substrate may be standardized at about 3% fat w/v.

The milk substrate may be standardized for both fat and protein content. In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at 4-10% protein (w/w) and 0-1 % fat (w/w). In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at or about 6.0 to 10.0% protein (w/w) and 0 to 10% fat (w/w). In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at or about 10.0% protein (w/w) and 0.1 % fat (w/w).

In other embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at 4-10% protein and 0- 1 % fat v/w. In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at or about 6.0 to 10.0% protein w/v and 0 to 10% fat v/w. In some embodiments, the milk substrate may be standardized at or about 10.0% protein w/v and 0.1 % fat w/v.

The milk substrate may be concentrated, condensed, heat treated, evaporated or filtered. It may also be dried or produced from a dried milk or a dried milk powder or other dried dairy product. It may be UHT milk. It may be rehydrated.

The milk substrate is preferably pasteurized and/or pre-pasteurized before or after treatment with the enzymes described herein. Pasteurization involves heating the milk substrate to at least 72°C for at least 15 seconds, preferably 25 seconds or more. In one embodiment pasteurization is carried out at least 73°C for at least 15 seconds. In one embodiment pasteurization is carried out at least 75 °C for at least 15 seconds. In a further embodiment pasteurization is carried out at least 85 °C for at least 15 seconds. In a further embodiment pasteurization is carried out at least 90 °C for at least 15 seconds. In another embodiment pasteurization is carried out at least 95 °C for at least 15 seconds.

Pasteurization may be carried out for at least 30 seconds. In some embodiments, pasteurization may be carried out for at least 1 minute. In further embodiments, pasteurization may be carried out for at least 2-15 minutes. In another embodiment, pasteurization may be carried out for at least 3-10 minutes. In a further embodiment, pasteurization may be carried out for at least 15 minutes or more. Pasteurization may take place in an autoclave.

In some embodiments, pasteurization is carried out at least 95 °C for 4-6 minutes.

In some embodiments, both pre-pasteurization and pasteurization are carried out. In some embodiments, pre-pasteurization is carried out on the raw milk before standardization. In some embodiments, pre-pasteurization is carried out at 72-80°C, such as 72-75°C, or 72°C. In one embodiment pre-pasteurization is carried out for 15-25 seconds, most preferably 15 seconds. In one aspect of the invention, the milk substrate is pasteurized after standardization.

Preferably this is carried out at the temperatures and for the times described above. In some embodiments, pasteurization after standardization is carried out at around 90°C for around 10 minutes, preferably at 90°C for 10 minutes. Pasteurization as described above may also be carried out in the absence of standardization.

In one aspect the milk substrate has a pH (before fermentation) of 6-8, most preferably of at or around pH 6-7 and in some embodiments of at or around pH6.7-6.8.

The milk substrate is treated with one or more of the enzymes described herein. As used herein, the terms "treating" and "treated" may encompass, adding to, mixing with, incubating with, stirring with, contacting with, fermenting with, inoculating with, admixing and applying to. In some embodiments, the milk substrate is treated with the one or more enzymes described herein before or after pasteurization. In some embodiments, the milk substrate is treated with the one or more enzymes as described herein before pasteurization, and with additional one or more enzymes as described herein after pasteurization. The one or more enzymes for the treatment before pasteurization can be the same as the one or more enzymes for treatment after pasteurization, or they can be different. In some embodiments, the one or more enzymes for the treatment before pasteurization are different than the one or more enzymes for treatment after pasteurization.

The term "treating" is used herein to mean the addition of one or more proteases and a microorganism to the milk substrate.

Proteolytic Enzymes

In one aspect, the present invention is directed to systems, compositions and methods for improving the properties of milk products comprising adding one or more enzymes during the process. In one embodiment, the present invention provides compositions and methods for improving the properties of milk products comprising adding one or more proteases alone or in combination with other enzymes during the process.

The protease used according to the invention is an exogenous protease. The term "exogenous" as used herein means that the protease is not typically found in milk, and hence is obtained from a different (i.e. non-milk) source.

The term "protease" as used herein is synonymous with peptidase or proteinase. The protease for use in the present invention may be a subtilisin (E.C. 3.4.21.62) or a bacillolysin (E.C. 3.4.24.28) or an alkaline serine protease (E.C. 3.4.21.x) or a keratinase (E.C. 3.4.X.X). Suitably, a protease for use in the present invention may be an Protease

endopeptidase K (EC 3.4.2.1.64), pronase, papain, an endopeptidase Arg-C, an endoprotease Gluc-C (EC 3.4.21.19), an enterokinase (EC 3.4.21.9), a collagenase (EC 3.4.24.3), a thermolysin (EC 3.4.24.27), a trypsin (EC 3.4.21.4), a chymotrypsin (EC 3.4.21.1), a pepsin (EC 3.4.23.1), an aspergillopepsin (EC 3.4.23.18), a sedolisin (EC 3.4.21.100), or a dipeptidyl peptidase (EC 3.4.14.1).

Preferably the protease in accordance with the present invention is a subtilisin, a serine protease, a metalloprotease, an acid protease, a neutral protease or a keratinase.

Suitable proteases include those of animal, vegetable or microbial origin. Chemically modified or protein engineered mutants are also suitable. The protease may be a serine protease or a metalloprotease, e.g., an alkaline microbial protease or a trypsin-like protease. Examples of alkaline proteases are subtilisins, especially those derived from Bacillus sp., e.g., subtilisin Novo, subtilisin Carlsberg, subtilisin 309 {see, e.g., U.S. Patent No. 6,287,841), subtilisin 147, and subtilisin 168 (see, e.g., WO 89/06279). Examples of trypsin-like proteases are trypsin (e.g., of porcine or bovine origin), and Fusarium proteases (see, e.g., WO 89/06270 and WO

94/25583). Examples of useful proteases also include but are not limited to the variants described in WO 92/19729 and WO 98/20115. All of which are incorporated herein by reference.

In one embodiment the protease for use in the present invention may be one or more of the proteases in one or more of the commercial products below:

Everlase 16.0™ Novozymes subtilisin Bacillus sp.

Alcalase 2.4 ' M Novozymes subtilisin Bacillus sp.

Neutrase 0.8L™ Novozymes protease B. amyloliquefaciens

Allzyme FD™ Alltech protease Aspergillus niger

Serratia

proteamacula ns HY-

Arazyme One-Q™ Insect Biotech Co. metalloprotease 3

Savinase™ Novozymes subtilisin Bacillus sp.

Nocardiopsis prasina

Alkaline serine gene expressed in

Ronozyme ProAct DSM/Novozymes protease Bacillus Iicheniformis

Versazyme/Cibenza

DP100 Novus Keratinase Bacillus Iicheniformis

Additionally or in the alternative the protease may be comprised in one or more of the following commercially available products: Kannase,™, NovoCarne Tender™' and Novozym 37020, Novo-Pro D™ (all available from Novozymes); BioSorb-ACDP™ (Noor Creations, India); or Angel™ Acid Protease (Angel Yeast Co, Ltd., China).

Suitably, the protease may be a protease from Bacillus (such as Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, B. alcalophilus and B. Iicheniformis), Trichoderma, Nocardiopsis, Serratia or Aspergillus.

In one embodiment, the protease is from Bacillus. Suitably, the protease may be from the species Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, B. alcalophilus, B. lentus and B.

Iicheniformis. In one embodiment, the protease is from the species Bacillus subtilis.

In one embodiment, the protease has the amino acid SEQ ID No.1. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.1.

In one embodiment, the protease has the amino acid SEQ ID No.2. In some

embodiments, the protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No. 2. In one embodiment, the protease has the amino acid SEQ ID No.3. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No. 3.

In some embodiments, the protease for use in the present invention may be a low pH sensitive peptidase.

In some embodiments, the protease for use in the present invention may be a

metalloprotease.

The term "metalloprotease" as used herein refers to an enzyme having protease activity, wherein the catalytic mechanism of the enzyme involves a metal, typically having a metal ion in the active site. In some embodiments, the metalloprotease is a low pH sensitive peptidase. The metal ion or ions of a metalloprotease may be any metal ion. Most preferably the metalloprotease as used herein contains metal ion or ions which are zinc, calcium or a combination of zinc and calcium.

Treatment with chelating agents removes the metal ion and inactivates

metalloproteases. For example, EDTA is a metal chelator that removes essential zinc from a metalloprotease and therefore inactivates the enzyme.

In some embodiments, the metalloprotease as used herein has a divalent ion, or two divalent ions, or more than two divalent ions at the active site.

In some embodiments, the metalloprotease as used herein has a zinc ion in the active site, most preferably Zn2+. In some preferable metalloproteases there may be one zinc ion, in others there may be two or more zinc ions.

Preferably a metalloprotease comprises a His-Glu-Xaa-Xaa-His motif (where "Xaa" is any amino acid) which forms the metal ion binding site or part thereof.

In one embodiment, wherein the metalloprotease is a member of the GluZincin superfamily, a zinc ion is bound by the amino acid motif His-Glu-Xaa-Xaa-His plus an additional glutamate. Preferably it contains 1 zinc ion and 2 calcium ions.

In some embodiments, the metalloprotease is from family M4, or the GluZincin superfamily. The M4 enzyme family is characterized in that all enzymes in this family bind a single, catalytic zinc ion. As in many other families of metalloproteases, there is an His-Glu- Xaa-Xaa-His motif. The M4 family is further defined in Biochem.J. 290:205-218 (1993).

In some embodiments, the metalloprotease used in the present invention adopts a 3D structure similar to protein databank structures 1 BQB (Staphylococcus aureus metalloprotease), 1 EZM (Pseudomonas aeruginosa metalloprotease) and 1 NPC (Bacillus cereus metalloprotease). In a preferred embodiment, the metalloprotease has a cannibalistic autolysis site. This means that the metalloprotease may cause lysis of itself.

As used herein, the term "metalloprotease" may be used interchangeably with

"metallopeptidase", "metalloproteinase" and "neutralaprotease". In some embodiments, the metalloprotease or a protease as described herein is low pH sensitive. As used herein, the term "low pH sensitive" refers to a peptidase whose pH optimum is the same as or close to the pH of fresh milk (pH6.5-6.7) and whose activity is at least 2 times lower at pH 4.6-4.8 compared to pH6.5-6.7.

In some embodiments, the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the present invention has an activity at least 10 times lower at pH 4.6-4.8 compared to pH6.5-6.7, and most preferably at least 15 times lower.

In some embodiments, during fermentation the production of organic acids (e.g. lactic acid) lowers the pH and deactivates the low pH sensitive peptidases during the methods of the invention.

In some embodiments, the low pH sensitive peptidase is irreversibly inactivated by low pH of 4.6-4.8. In a preferred embodiment, the low pH that reduces or inactivates the peptidases used in the invention is caused by fermentation. Most preferably this low pH is caused by microbial fermentation of sugars to organic acids, such as the fermentation of lactose to lactic acid. Most preferably the inactivation is permanent and the resulting fermented milk product therefore contains little, no, or only trace amounts of active peptidase. Preferably proteolytic activity is reduced, most preferably stopped, by the end fermentation, or before or during storage.

The reduction in activity at low pH for low pH sensitive peptidases that are

metalloproteases is preferably caused by the disassociation of the metal ions. These metal ions are essential to the function of the enzyme, as described above.

The term "reduced activity" as used herein in the context of peptidases means a reduction in protease activity (also known as "peptidase activity", "enzyme activity",

"endopeptidase activity" or "exopeptidase activity") of 2 times or more units of peptidase activity compared to the units of peptidase activity at the activity maximum of pH6.5-6.7. In a preferred embodiment, "reduced activity" refers to activity of less than 50% that at the activity maximum of pH6.5-6.7.

The term "inactivates" as used herein in the context of peptidases means a reduction in protease activity of 2 times or more units of peptidase activity compared to the units of peptidase activity at the activity maximum of pH6.5-6.7. In a preferred embodiment, "inactivated" refers to activity of less than 90% that at the activity maximum of pH6.5-6.7.

One unit of endopeptidase activity was defined as the absorbance increase per min at 450nm caused by 1 ug (microgram) NP7L active protein, as described in Example 1 (Omondi et al (2001)).

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase is a thermostable peptidase. As used herein, the term "thermostable" means the enzyme has protease activity at temperatures of greater than 30°C, preferably 30°C-60°C.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the low pH sensitive peptidase belongs to Enzyme Commission (E.C.) No. 3.4.17, 3.4.21 or 3.4.24.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase is a thermolysin, an NprE molecule, proteolysin, aureolysin, Gentlyase or Dispase, or a peptidase having a high percentage identity to such an enzyme.

In some embodiments, the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the present invention is not chymosin or chymosin-like (that is, does not have chymosin-like activity and does not specifically cleave the Met105-Phe106 bond), and does not belong to E.C. No. 3.4.23.4. The low pH sensitive peptidase used in the present invention preferably does not cleave the Met105- Phe106 bond, and most preferably does not cleave strictly the Met105-Phe106 bond only.

In some embodiments, the peptidase used consists of or comprises a mature protein excluding any signal sequence. In a further embodiment, the peptidase consists of or comprises a full length protein including a signal sequence.

In some embodiments, the low pH sensitive peptidase is of non-mammalian origin, and most preferably of non-animal origin. In some embodiments, the low pH sensitive peptidase is a bacterial peptidase, a fungal peptidase, an archaeal peptidase or an artificial peptidase. In some embodiments the low pH sensitive peptidase is a bacterial metalloprotease, a fungal

metalloprotease, an archaeal metalloprotease or an artificial metalloprotease.

An artificial peptidase is an enzyme in which one or more amino acids have been mutated, substituted, deleted or otherwise altered so the amino acid sequence of the enzyme differs from the wild-type, wherein the wild-type is obtainable from a living organism. An artificial peptidase may also be referred to as a variant peptidase.

Peptidases of bacterial origin as used herein are preferably obtained or obtainable from Bacillus species, most preferably Bacillus amyloliquefaciens or Bacillus pumilus. Most preferably the low pH sensitive peptidase is, or has a high percentage identity to, NP7L, also known as NprE, Protex 7L, P7L, FoodPro PNL, Bacillolysin or Neutrase. Such a peptidase is shown as SEQ ID NO: 3 (Figure 9A), and encoded by the nucleotide sequence of SEQ ID NO:10 (Figure 9K). NP7L is a metalloprotease.

Peptidases of bacterial origin as used herein may also be, or have a high percentage identity to, NP14L (SEQ ID NO:6, Figure 9E) also known as Thermolysin and Protex 14L. NP14L is also a metalloprotease.

Peptidases of fungal origin as used herein are preferably obtained or obtainable from Penicillium (see for example SEQ ID NO:7, Figure 9F) Aspergillus (see for example SEQ ID NO:9, Figure 9H) Photorhabdus or Trichoderma species.

Peptidases of archaeal origin as used herein are preferably from Sulfolobus, most preferably Sulfolobus solfataricus.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:3 or a polypeptide having at least 70%, such as at least 75%, such as at least 80%, such as at least 85%, such as at least 90%, such as at least 95%, such as at least 97%, such as at least 98%, such as at least 99%, sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:3, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:3, or a polypeptide having one or several amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions, or a functional variant thereof. For example, such a polypeptide may have 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20 or more amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:4 or a polypeptide having at least 70%, such as at least 75%, such as at least 80%, such as at least 85%, such as at least 90%, such as at least 95%, such as at least 97%, such as at least 98%, such as at least 99%, sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:4, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof. In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:4, or a polypeptide having one or several amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions, or a functional variant thereof. For example, such a polypeptide may have 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20 or more amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:5 or a polypeptide having at least 70%, such as at least 75%, such as at least 80%, such as at least 85%, such as at least 90%, such as at least 95%, such as at least 97%, such as at least 98%, such as at least 99%, sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:5, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:5, or a polypeptide having one or several amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions, or a functional variant thereof . For example, such a polypeptide may have 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20 or more amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:6 or a polypeptide having at least 70%, such as at least 75%, such as at least 80%, such as at least 85%, such as at least 90%, such as at least 95%, such as at least 97%, such as at least 98%, such as at least 99%, sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:6, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof .

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:6, or a polypeptide having one or several amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions, or a functional variant thereof. For example, such a polypeptide may have 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20 or more amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions. In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:7 or a polypeptide having at least 70%, such as at least 75%, such as at least 80%, such as at least 85%, such as at least 90%, such as at least 95%, such as at least 97%, such as at least 98%, such as at least 99%, sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:7, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:7, or a polypeptide having one or several amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions, or a functional variant thereof . For example, such a polypeptide may have 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20 or more amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:9 or a polypeptide having at least 70%, such as at least 75%, such as at least 80%, such as at least 85%, such as at least 90%, such as at least 95%, such as at least 97%, such as at least 98%, such as at least 99%, sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:9, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:9, or a polypeptide having one or several amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions, or a functional variant thereof . For example, such a polypeptide may have 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20 or more amino acid deletions, substitutions and/or additions.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 11 , or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 16, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 17, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 18, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 19, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:20, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:21 , or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase as used herein comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:22, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto, or a functional variant thereof.

As used herein, a "functional variant" of a peptidase meant that the enzyme has peptidase activity despite changes such as substitutions, deletions, mutations, missing or additional domains and other modifications.

As used herein, a "functional variant" of a metalloprotease meant that the enzyme has metalloprotease activity despite changes such as substitutions, deletions, mutations, missing or additional domains and other modifications.

In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase comprises a full length enzyme including a signal peptide (also known as a signal sequence). A signal sequences directs the secretion of the polypeptide through a particular prokaryotic or eukaryotic cell membrane. In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:3, lacking a signal sequence. In one embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:4, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:5, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:6, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:7, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:9, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 11 , but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 16, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 17, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 18, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 19, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:20, but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:21 , but lacking a signal sequence. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase used in the current invention comprises a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:22, but lacking a signal sequence.

In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase comprises an amino acid sequence having at least 70%, such as at least 75%, such as at least 80%, such as at least 85%, such as at least 90%, such as at least 95%, such as at least 97%, such as at least 98%, such as at least 99%, sequence identity to SEQ ID NOs:3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 1 1 or 13-22 lacking a signal peptide, or a functional variant thereof. In a further embodiment the low pH sensitive peptidase comprises an amino acid sequence having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98% or 99% sequence identity to SEQ ID NOs:3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11 , or 16-22 and also lacking a signal peptide, or a functional variant thereof.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:2, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:4, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:5, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:6, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:7 or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:9, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 11 , or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 16, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 17, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 18, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto. In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 19, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:20, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:21 , or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

In a further embodiment, the low pH sensitive peptidase consists of a polypeptide having the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:22, or a polypeptide having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%, 99% sequence identity thereto.

Peptidases, like all proteins, may be encoded by a nucleic acid having a nucleotide sequence. The low pH sensitive peptidases used in the current invention may be obtained from or obtainable from a nucleic acid, for example as demonstrated by SEQ ID NO: 10 or a variation thereof, which encodes SEQ ID NO:3, or SEQ ID NO:8 or a variation thereof which encodes SEQ ID NO:7. Said nucleic acid may be expressed in a host cell. Said nucleic acid may be obtained or obtainable from a host cell.

In some embodiments, the enzyme has a total number of amino acids of less than 350, such as less than 340, such as less than 330, such as less than 320, such as less than 310, such as less than 300 amino acids, such as in the range of 200 to 350, such as in the range of 220 to 345 amino acids than the one or more enzyme described herein.

In some embodiments, the amino acid sequence of the enzyme has at least one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine or ten amino acid substitutions.

The amino acid sequence may be prepared/isolated from a suitable source, or it may be made synthetically or it may be prepared by use of recombinant DNA techniques.

The protein encompassed in the present invention may be used in conjunction with other proteins, particularly enzymes. Thus the present invention also covers a combination of proteins wherein the combination comprises the protease of the present invention and another enzyme, which may be another protease according to the present invention.

Preferably the amino acid sequence when relating to and when encompassed by the per se scope of the present invention is not a native enzyme. In this regard, the term "native enzyme" means an entire enzyme that is in its native environment and when it has been expressed by its native nucleotide sequence. Glycosidases

The milk substrate may additionally be treated with one or more glycosidases. This treatment may occur at any point, of the methods described herein. One or more glycosidases may be added during fermentation.

Glycosidases hydrolyze glycosidic bonds.

In one aspect of the invention, the glycosidase is an N-linked or an O-linked glycosidase. In some embodiments, the glycosidase is a PNGase F belonging to Enzyme Commission (E.C.) No. 3.5.1.52.

In other embodiments the glycosidase is an Endoglycosidase H belonging to E.C.

3.2.1.96. In some embodiments the glycosidase is a PNGase A belonging to E.C. 3.5.1.52.

In some embodiments the glycosidase is a Neuraminidase (NaNase) belonging to E.C. 3.2.1.18. In some embodiments, the glycosidase is selected from SEQ ID NO. 12, a PNGase A ((Peptide- N(4)-(N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminyl) asparagine amidase, EC 3.5.1.52), SEQ ID NO: 13, a PNGase F, SEQ ID NO: 14, an Endoglycosidase H (Endo-beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase H, EC 3.2.1.96,) or SEQ ID NO: 15, an N-acetyl galactosaminidase, or a glycosidase having at least 70%, such as at least 75%, such as at least 80%, such as at least 85%, such as at least 90%, such as at least 95%, such as at least 97%, such as at least 98%, such as at least 99%, sequence identity to any thereof.

In some embodiments, the glycosidase comprises a polypeptide having an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No. 12, SEQ ID NO: 13, SEQ ID NO:14 or SEQ ID NO: 15, or a glycosidase having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97, 98%, 99%, sequence identity to any thereof. In some embodiments, the glycosidase comprises a polypeptide having an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No. 12, or a glycosidase having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97, 98%, 99%, sequence identity to any thereof. In some embodiments, the glycosidase comprises a polypeptide having an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No. 13, or a glycosidase having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97, 98%, 99%, sequence identity to any thereof. In some embodiments, the glycosidase comprises a polypeptide having an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No. 14, or a glycosidase having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97, 98%, 99%, sequence identity to any thereof. In some embodiments, the glycosidase comprises a polypeptide having an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No. 15, or a glycosidase having at least 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 97, 98%, 99%, sequence identity to any thereof.

Formulating and Packaging The one or more enzymes used in the present invention, and/or starter cultures of the present invention, may be formulated into any suitable form.

Formulating may include pelleting, capsules, caplets, tableting, blending, coating, layering, formation into chewable or dissolvable tablets, formulating into dosage controlled packets, formulating into stick packs and powdering.

Formulating may also include the addition of other ingredients to the low pH sensitive peptidases used in the present invention, and/or starter cultures of the present invention.

Suitable ingredients include for example food ingredients, sugars, carbohydrates, and dairy products.

In some embodiments formulating does not include the addition of any further microorganisms. In a preferred embodiment formulating does include the addition of any further microorganisms, for example additional strains of lactic acid bacteria.

The one or more enzymes used in the present invention, and/or starter cultures of the present invention of the present invention, may be packaged.

In some embodiments, packaging occurs after freezing and/or drying and/or mixing the one or more enzymes used in the present invention, and/or starter cultures of the present invention.

Suitably the packaging may be comprised of a vacuum pack, sachet, box, a blister pack, stick pack, or tin.

As used in the current invention, the one or more proteases may be mixed with a carrier, preferably an insoluble carrier. In some embodiments, the one or more proteases may be mixed a carrier to obtain a slurry. The slurry may be dried to obtain a dried enzyme powder. This may be used as a starter culture or in a starter culture.

In some embodiments this dried slurry powder contains with particles having a volume mean diameter greater than 10-30 pm, most preferably greater than 30 pm, and the content of insoluble carrier in the dried enzyme powder is at least 10 % (w/w) and at the most 90% (w/w) based on the weight of the dried enzyme powder. The insoluble carrier is preferably selected from the group consisting of polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP), microcrystalline cellulose, and wheat starch, maltodextrins, preferably microcrystalline cellulose, and it may contain a disintegrant. These have been described in WO/2014/177644A1 , Example 1-13.

The methods of the current invention may be carried out using a kit. Preferably such a kit comprises one or more proteases as described herein and a microorganism, which may be in the form of a starter culture and/or formulated and/or packaged as described above. The specific combination of one or more peptidases described herein and their doses may be adjusted depending of the type of microorganisms and type of the milk substrate. For example, a higher dose of the one or more peptidases and/or a more active protease as described herein can be used when the microorganisms used contain a higher ratio of probiotic bacteria or when the milk substrate in has a high percent of milk protein.

Dosage

Preferably the dose of the one or more enzymes described herein is in the range of O. ^g to 100C^g active enzyme protein per kilo milk substrate, more preferably it is in the range of ^g to 10C^g active enzyme protein/kg milk products, more preferably it is 5-15μg active enzyme/kg milk substrate and even more preferably it is 10ug active enzyme protein/kg milk substrate. In some embodiments, the dose of the one or more proteases described herein is 0.1-^g active enzyme protein/kg milk substrate.

In some embodiments, the methods of the invention in one aspect use a dose of 0.01-30 units of peptidase enzyme. In some embodiments, the methods of the invention in one aspect use a dose of 00.1-10 units of peptidase enzyme. In some embodiments, the methods of the invention use a dose of 0.1-1 units of peptidase enzyme. In some embodiments, around or exactly 0.9 units of peptidase enzyme per 100 ml of inoculated milk substrate are used.

Alternatively the peptidase dose may be measured as an amount per kilo of milk substrate. For example, in some embodiments, the methods of the invention use a dose of up to 1-10000μg dosed to 1 kilo milk substrate (i.e, the enzyme concentration is in the range of 1-10000ppb, parts per billion). In some embodiments, the peptidase dose is at an amount of up to 1-100 ppb.

If the dose of enzyme is too low, it may not cause the desired effect, while overdose may lead to over hydrolysis converting milk proteins as polymers to oligomers and even amino acid. Overdosing may change the texture, gelation, decrease viscosity, firmness of yogurt products. The dose of the one or more peptidases described herein may be adjusted depending of the type of and ratio of microorganisms used during fermentation, and the amount and type of milk protein present in the milk substrate. For example, a higher dose of the one or more peptidases described herein can be used when the microorganisms used contain a higher ratio of probiotic bacteria or when the milk substrate in has a high percent of milk protein.

In some embodiments, the dose of the one or more enzymes described herein is selected such that the viscosity of a high protein milk substrate is decreased without exceeding the threshold for the perception of bitterness due to the liberation of small bitter tasting peptides. A milk substrate or fermented milk product which has been treated with a peptidase may also be referred to as "enzymated".

Fermentation

As used herein, the term "fermentation" refers to the conversion of carbohydrates (such as sugars) to alcohols and C02 or organic acids using microorganisms such as yeasts and bacteria or any combination thereof. Fermentation is usually carried out under anaerobic conditions. A fermented product has been produced using fermentation.

As used herein, the term "allowing the treated milk substrate to ferment" means fermenting the milk substrate. This may include incubating the treated milk substrate under suitable conditions (e.g. anaerobic) and at a suitable temperature for a sufficient period of time for fermentation to occur.

In the case of the fermented milk products of the invention, preferably they result from a milk substrate inoculated with a lactic acid bacterium, or any microbes that have GRAS status and can acidify milk by fermenting milk carbohydrates. For example a thermophilic culture such as YO-Mix 465, 532, 860 or 414 or a mesophilic culture such as Choozit 220, Choozit 230 or Probat 505. These culture strains are commercially available from DuPont.

In one embodiment, the milk substrate is fermented at 35-55°C, preferably 40-50°C. This temperature range is preferable for a thermophilic microorganism or a thermophilic culture. Most preferably, the fermentation temperature for a thermophilic microorganism or a

thermophilic culture is 41 °C. In some embodiments, the fermentation temperature is 42°C. In some embodiments, the fermentation temperature is 43°C. In other embodiments, the fermentation temperature is 44°C. In some embodiments, the fermentation temperature is 45°C. In another embodiment, the milk substrate is fermented at 15-30°C, preferably 20-25°C. This temperature range is preferable for a mesophilic microorganism or a mesophilic culture. Most preferably, the fermentation temperature for a mesophilic microorganism or a mesophilic culture is 21 °C. In some embodiments, the fermentation temperature is 22°C. In some embodiments the fermentation temperature is 23°C. In other embodiments, the fermentation temperature is 24°C. In some embodiments, the fermentation temperature is 25°C. Examples for fermentation temperature include at 30, 37 and 43°C. Fermentation temperature may affect the properties of the resulting fermented milk product.

In some embodiments, fermentation is conducted in a water bath or heat exchanger. In some embodiments, fermentation is carried in a fermentation tank or a beaker. In particular fermentation is carried in a fermentation tank for stirred yogurt or in a beaker for set yogurt. In some embodiments, fermentation, is ended when a specific pH is reached. This pH is preferably a more acidic pH than the starting pH of the milk substrate, most preferably a pH between 3 and 6, more preferably between 4 and 5. In some embodiments the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.5-4.8. In some embodiment the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.7. In some embodiments, the pH at which fermentation ends is 4.7. In some embodiments, the pH at which fermentation ends is at or around 4.6.

Most preferably, fermentation ends when the reduction in pH reduces the activity of, or completely inactivates, the low pH sensitive peptidase.

In some embodiments, after fermentation, the now fermented milk product is cooled, preferably immediately as described above (see section entitled "Fermented Milk Product").

This may be before or after stirring, or no stirring may occur depending on the preferred product. This cooling may take place for example, using a water bath. Cooling can take place in one or two steps as described above. In some embodiments, the fermented milk product is cooled to 20-30°C. In some embodiments, the fermented milk product is cooled to around 25°C or to 25°C. Alternatively, in one embodiment the fermented milk product is cooled to a lower temperature of 1-10°C, most preferably 4-6°C, after step (b) of the method of the invention. In some embodiments, this cooling is carried out slowly by placing the fermented milk product in a cold room or refrigerator. Alternatively both of these cooling steps can be applied, one after the other (as described above).

Fermentation may be stopped by cooling, or by the pH which may inhibit or kill the microorganisms of the fermentation culture. Cooling stops the fermentation process. The fermented milk product can be stored at preferably 4-6°C, as further described above.

Microorganism

The methods as described herein use a microorganism. This is for fermentation purposes. The microorganism used according to the invention is an exogenous microorganism. The term "exogenous" as used herein means that the microorganism is not typically found in milk, and hence is obtained from a different (i.e. non-milk) source.

In some embodiments, said microorganism is a lactic acid bacterium.

As used herein, the term "lactic acid bacteria" (LAB) refers to any bacteria which produce lactic acid as the end product of carbohydrate fermentation. In a particular embodiment, the LAB is selected from the group consisting of species Streptococcus, Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pseudoleuconostoc, Pediococcus, Propionibacte u, Enterococcus,

Brevibacterium and Bifidobacterium or any combination thereof, and any strains thereof. Examples of suitable microorganism strains include Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis, Lactococcus lactis subsp cremoris, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp cremoris, Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis, Lactococcus lactis subsp cremoris, Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus. A fermenting or otherwise growing colony of microorganisms (particularly LAB) may be referred to as a "culture".

In one aspect the LAB is a mesophilic culture. In some embodiments, fermentation of such a LAB is carried out at 15-30°C, most preferably 20-25°C

A mesophilic culture may be Probat 505, Choozit 220 or Choozit 230 for example. These cultures are commercially available from DuPont.

In a further aspect, the LAB is a thermophilic culture. In some embodiments, fermentation of such a LAB is carried out at 30-55°C, most preferably 37-43°C and most preferably at 43°C.

A thermophilic culture may be YO-MIX 414, 532 and 860 for example. These cultures are commercially available from DuPont.

In one embodiment the thermophilic culture used in the present invention is YO-MIX™ 860. This culture comprises the Streptococcus thermophilus strain CNCM 1-2980 as taught by WO 2004/085607 (incorporated herein by reference) and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp.

Bulgaricus.

In particular, the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) may be used in a blended culture, in an inoculum or a starter culture.

Starter cultures

The lactic acid bacteria (LAB) may be used in a starter culture.

In a particular embodiment the starter culture of the invention comprises the LAB and a low pH sensitive peptidase as described above.

The starter culture of the invention may be frozen, dried (e.g. spray dried), freeze dried, liquid, solid, in the form of pellets or frozen pellets, or in a powder or dried powder. The starter culture may be formulated and/or packaged as described above.

The starter culture may also comprise more than one LAB strain. In some embodiments, said LAB starter culture, has a concentration of LAB which is between 107 and 1011 CFU, and more preferably at least at least 107, at least 108, at least 109, at least 1010 or at least 1011 CFU/g of the starter culture.

The invention also provides the use of a starter culture as defined above. The starter culture of the invention may preferably be used for producing a fermented milk product, in particular a fermented milk product of the invention. A fermented milk product of the invention may be obtained and is obtainable by adding a starter culture to a milk substrate and allowing the treated milk substrate to ferment.

Methods

In some embodiments, the methods describe herein produce a fermented milk product. Said fermented milk products have unexpected properties as described above.

Fermented milk products of the current invention preferably have improved viscosity. Preferably said fermented milk products have improved gel strength. Preferably said fermented milk products have improved texture. In one embodiment said fermented milk products have improved firmness of curd. Preferably said fermented milk products have earlier onset of fermentation and/or earlier onset of gelation and/or earlier conclusion of fermentation. In a preferred embodiment said fermented milk products have reduced syneresis. In one

embodiment said fermented milk products have improved shelf-life.

In some embodiments the fermented milk products of the current invention have one or more of the following features: (a) improved viscosity; (b) improved gel strength; (c) improved texture; (d) improved firmness of curd; (e) earlier onset of fermentation; (f) earlier onset of gelation; (g) earlier conclusion of fermentation; (h) reduced syneresis; (i) improved shelf-life and/or (j) improved taste.

In particular, the current invention includes the use of one or more proteases in the production of a fermented milk product as discussed above.

In some embodiments, the present disclosure includes a method for preparing a fermented milk product, the method comprising: (a) treating a milk substrate whose protein content is higher than 4% with one or more proteases and a microorganism; and (b) allowing the treated milk substrate to ferment to produce the fermented milk product.

In some embodiments, the protein content of the milk substrate is between 5 and 10% inclusive.

In some embodiments, the protein content of the milk substrate is 10% or higher.

In some embodiments, the peptide lysis level in the milk substrate is equal to or greater than

20%.

In some embodiments, one of said one or more proteases belongs to Enzyme

Commission (E.C.) No. 3.4.17, 3.4.21 or 3.4.24. In some embodiments, the one of said one or more proteases is from family M4. In some embodiments, the one or more proteases is a metalloprotease. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.3. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 90% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.3. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 95% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.3.

In some embodiments, the one of said one or more proteases is a subtilisin, a serine protease, an acid protease, or a neutral protease. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.1. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 90% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.1. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 95% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.1.

In some embodiments, the protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.2. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 90% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.2. In some embodiments, the protease has at least 95% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.2.

In some embodiments, the milk substrate is treated with said one or more proteases prior to a pasteurization step as described above.

In some embodiments, the one or more proteases are added together with said microorganism. In some embodiments, a subtilisin, a serine protease, an acid protease, or a neutral protease is added to the milk substrate prior to a pasteurization step. In some embodiments, a subtilisin or a serine protease is added to the milk substrate prior to a pasteurization step.

In some embodiments, a metal loprotease is added together with said microorganism. In some embodiments, a subtilisin or a serine protease is added to the milk substrate prior to a pasteurization step and wherein metalloprotease is added together with said microorganism. In some embodiments, the subtilisin or serine protease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87,

88, 89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.1 or SEQ ID No.2.

In some embodiments, a metalloprotease has at least 80, 81 , 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88,

89, 90, 91 , 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99% identity with the amino acid SEQ ID No.3.

In some embodiments, the dose of the one or more proteases described herein is selected such that the viscosity of a high protein milk substrate is decreased without exceeding the threshold for the perception of bitterness due to the liberation of small bitter tasting peptides.

In some embodiments, the microorganism is a lactic acid bacterium. In some embodiments, the microorganism is of the genus Streptococcus, Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pseudoleuconostoc, Pediococcus, Propionibacterium, Enterococcus, Brevi bacterium and Bifidobacterium or any combination thereof.

The process of fermenting milk to produce fermented milk products is well known in the art and the specific conditions vary depending on the type of milk substrate and microorganisms used, the final specifications needed for the fermented product and the specific fermenting processes. The methods described herein can be applied to any fermenting process known in the art. It is to be understood that certain parameters of the compositions and methods described herein may be adjusted depending to the properties needed for the fermented milk products and/or the specific fermenting process and/or specific microorganism to obtain such optimal properties in the fermented milk products.

EXAMPLES

The present disclosure is described in further detail in the following examples, which are not in any way intended to limit the scope of the disclosure as claimed. The attached figures are meant to be considered as integral parts of the specification and description of the disclosure. The following examples are offered to illustrate, but not to limit the claimed disclosure.

Example 1

The objective of the following example was to reduce the viscosity of high protein yoghurts. In order to standardize the milk to a protein content of 10 % (w/v), skimmed milk powder and Milkprotein70 were applied. Different amounts of Protex 7L (P7L) as well as Protex 6L (P6L) were added to the yogurt milk before or after pasteurization in order to test the optimal conditions to reduce the yogurt viscosity. The fermentations were conducted employing YM 860 and YM 410 at 43 °C to a final pH of 4.6. High protein yogurts produced by YM 860 showed an overall better appearance than the ones fermented with YM 410. For the protein sources used, Milkprotein70 showed better properties in terms of the yogurts general texture and had less off- flavor compared to yogurt from milk standardized with SMP. The best results, related to enzyme addition, were shown when P7L was added after pasteurization, in dosages >22.4U/kg. The addition of 80U/kg P7L to yogurt standardized with MP70 led to a 30 % reduced shear stress, which was the highest achieved reduction in this study. Materials and Methods

Laboratory-scale production of stirred yogurt samples

Either Skimmed milk powder, Milk Protein (MP 70) or whey protein concentrate (WPC 80) was added to skimmed milk (1 ,5% (w/v) fat; Aria, Viby, Denmark) in order to standardize the milk to a protein content of 10 % (w/v). In order to test their capability of viscosity reduction, Protex 6L (P6L) and Protex 7L (P7L) were added 90 min before or after pasteurization (600 s, 90 °C) before the fermentation was conducted. Fermentation was started by applying YO-Mix 860 (YM 860) and YO-Mix 410 (YM 410). Both cultures are used in the dairy industry for yogurts with higher protein content. A rather high amount of pre-culture, 5 ml_/L, was applied, since the high amount of protein and its partial hydrolysis after enzyme addition, is resulting in an increased buffering capacity, which led in pre-trials to very long fermentation times (data not shown). The inoculated milk was poured into glass beakers containing 100 ml each and fermented at 43 °C to a final pH of 4.6. Subsequently, the yogurts were first mixed by hand with a spoon 30-times, before they were stirred in glass beakers for 15 s using a hand mixer (IdeenWelt, Rossmann, Germany) at level 1. The yogurt was filled into plastic cups and closed with a lid to prevent the yoghurt from drying. Until the measurements were performed after 5, 14 and 27 days the samples were stored at 5 °C.

Rheological analysis

The viscosity of the pasteurized milk before pasteurization was measured applying a viscometer (Brookfield, Middleboro, USA) 30 rpm, spindle S62.

For the stirred yogurt samples a flow curve was performed after 6 and 14 days of storage.

Measurements were performed using the MCR302 rheometer by Anton Paar. A rheometer applies a well-defined shear rate (rotation) to the product and measures the force needed to do that. The instrument is normally used to simulate shear stress in industrial-scale plants for mouth feel, thereby giving information about the robustness of the products. The rheometer draws a flow curve. This means that the shear stress is measured during an increased shear rate (up curve). At the defined endpoint, the shear rate is decreased again, and the down curve is obtained. The area between the curves provides information about structure recovery potentials in the product.

The MCR 302 Rheometer from Anton Paar can be used for characterizing drinking yogurt and stirred yogurt. It enables forecasting (and quantification) of thickness, stickiness and mouthfeel. The instrument can be used for other applications and products. Years of experiments show that sensory attributes can be estimated at specific shear rates. Table 1 : Extraction of sensory attributes from flow curves

Flow curves were measured at 10 °C using the measuring system CP50-2/TG-SN25648 with the measuring cone CP50-2/TG. The flow curve is measured during increasing and subsequent decreasing shear rate with Y up = 0, 1-200 s " and Y d0 wn= 200-0,1 s "1 , considering only the increasing shear rate in the following results.

Results and Discussion

Influence of used protein source and heat treatment

To check if there is a protein source favorable in terms of processability, SMP, Promilk 70, and WPC 80 were used to obtain the protein content of 10 % (w/v). Already before the fermentation, right after pasteurization (90 °C, 10 min), an increase in viscosity was recognized, regardless which protein source was used. The addition of the whey protein (WPC 80) resulted in a gel-like product, which made further processing impossible.

This solidity can be explained by a disadvantageous whey protein proportion combined with an unfavorable combination of length and temperature of heat treatment, which leads to the formation of aggregates mainly composed out of whey proteins (Beaulieu et al., 1999, Chever et al., 2014). Pasteurized milk made out of MP 70 showed better results in terms of viscosity than SMP right after pasteurization. Whereas the milk standardized with SMP was hard to pour and had many visible lumps, the milk with MP 70 addition resembled more the control. As a control, milk without any protein addition was pasteurized together with the samples. The results of the viscosity measurement, presented in Table 2 reveal that in both samples the protein addition caused an increase in viscosity. The high viscosity measured for SMP confirms the impression of a very viscous product, which is hard to handle during further processing.

Table 2 shows the viscosity of milk with a protein content of 10% (w/v) after pasteurization, standardized with either SMP or MP70 compared to milk, from the same batch, but without any protein addition (3,5 % (w/v) protein content). Table 2. Viscosity of milk with a protein content of 10% (w/v) after pasteurization

A possible explanation for these results is the higher protein content of Promilk 70 (70% (w/w) Protein). Since SMP has only a protein content of about 36 % (w/w), it is necessary to add a higher amount of SMP to the milk compared to MP70, leading to a higher dry mass and thereby to a higher viscosity. Maybe also the whey protein ratio is more favorable in MP70, resulting in fewer aggregates.

Trying to avoid the aggregation of whey protein, a different heat-treatment was tested as well. The milk was heated in the autoclave only for 1 min at 85 °C, which resulted for samples enriched with WPC in a stiff product as well. Milk mixed with SMP and MP70 showed a thinner consistency compared to a normal heat treatment right after pasteurization (data not shown). To determine the influence of the two protein sources in products fermented by different cultures (YM 410, YM 860), the following experiments were performed twice for milk enriched with SMP as well as for milk with a protein content of 10 % (w/v) achieved by adding MP 70.

After general problems of protein addition to milk in connection with the pasteurization were shown in the previous experiment, the following experiments were conducted dealing with the viscosity reduction of the fermented high- protein yogurts and the influence the protein source, the used culture and, above all, the addition of the enzymes P6L and P7L have.

Influence of the addition of different amounts of P6L or PIL on yogurt viscosity, when added to milk before pasteurization

The addition of P7L, 90 min before milk pasteurization, resulted in a measurable decreased viscosity, compared to control samples without enzyme addition. Figure 1 shows the best result achieved for the P7L addition before fermentation. The addition of 76U/Kg P7L resulted in a 12 % reduced shear stress after 5 days of storage. However, the yogurts had other shortcomings. They were very grainy, showing big lumps and also causing problems during rheometer measurement.

The addition of P6L, also added 90 min before fermentation, showed more promising results. First positive results were visible right after pasteurization. The milk with added P6L, showed less lumps, a in general lower viscosity compared to the control and was thereby much easier to handle, the more enzyme was added. The produced yogurts showed as well a more significant reduction in viscosity compared to yogurts where P7L was added. The results of the rheometer measurements are shown in Figure 2 A-D.

The results reveal that for stirred yogurt samples produced using YM 860 (Fig. 2A and B) a slightly higher shear stress and thereby viscosity was measured, than for yogurts fermented by YM 410 (Fig. 2C and D). However, the enzyme addition seemed to have more influence on yogurt fermented by YM 860. There, around 17 % reduced shear stress was measured for yogurts with SMP and for MP70 yogurts a 20 % reduction when 3 % (v/w) P6L was added. For YM 410 the shear stress was only reduced by 9 % (SMP) and 6 % (MP70) for the highest amount of P6L tested. Furthermore, YM 860 resulted in a general creamier texture and also less graininess in all tested samples, so all of the following trials were conducted using YM 860. It also should be mentioned that no bitter taste or other off-flavors were perceivable, neither for SMP nor for MP70 at all the tested enzyme concentrations added before fermentation. Influence of the addition of P6L and P7L on yogurt viscosity; addition after pasteurization

Having shown that P7L is not suitable for the use prior to pasteurization, its effect on viscosity should be shown when it was added after the pasteurization in the following experiments.

Furthermore, the addition of P6L was tested as well. Again both, SMP and MP70 were tested. The results obtained are shown in Figure 3 (A-D).

Both the addition of P6L as well as of P7L after pasteurization led to a visible improvement of the yogurts viscosity compared to the control samples. This could also be numerically represented by the rheometer results. An addition of 2.33 % (v/w) resulted for yogurts, with P6L addition and where SMP was used for standardization, to a 13 % reduction in shear stress. For yogurts with MP70, the reduction was 21 %.

Even better results were obtained when high amounts of P7L were added. Whereas the addition of 11.2 U/kg and 22.4 U/kg resulted in, as expected due to the results of other studies, a slight increase of the measured shear stress, the addition of 80 U/kg lead to a significant reduction of 21 % for SMP and 30 % for MP70. Here the yogurts showed a creamy texture, almost without visible lumps. A tasting of yogurt samples with different various amounts of P7L added showed that the yogurts with MP70 were perceived as more pleasant in taste, with less off-flavor. The adjustment of protein content with SMP resulted in a slightly cooked flavor for the addition of 68 U/kg and 80 U/kg P7L.

Conclusion

This study showed that by adding Protex 7L and/or Protex 6L it is possible to reduce the viscosity of high-protein yogurt samples, with best results shown for yogurts standardized to 10 % protein content by adding MP70 and fermented by YM 860. Furthermore, the results revealed that in order to lower the viscosity it was most favorable to add P7L after pasteurization. For P6L, the time of addition was not as significant as for P7L. The highest viscosity reduction (30 %) was achieved for the addition of 80 U/kg P7L added after pasteurization to milk standardized with MP70 and fermented with YM 860. Example 2

The objective of this example was to produce a smoother high protein yogurt.

MEASURED TEMPERATURES / HOLDING TIME, DURING PROCESSING:

1 2 3 4

Pasteurisation temperatu 95,00 95,00 95,00 95,00 Holding time in seconds 360,00 360,00 360,00 360,00

In order to standardize the milk to a protein content of 10 % (w/w), Milkprotein 70 was applied. Different amounts of Protex 7L as well as Protex 6L were added to the yogurt milk before or after pasteurization in order to test the optimal conditions to produce a smoother high protein yogurt. The fermentations were conducted employing YM 860 at 43 °C to a final pH of 4.6. Materials and methods

Laboratory-scale production of stirred yogurt samples

Milk Protein (MP 70) and cream (38 % (w/w); Aria, Viby, Denmark) was added to skimmed milk (0.1 % (w/w) fat; Aria, Viby, Denmark) in order to standardize the milk to a protein content of 10 % (w/w) and a fat content of 1.5 % (w/w). The milk was mixed under good agitation at 45 °C. Protex 6L was added prior to pasteurization and homogenization, which was conducted at 95 °C for 6 min (P1 : 65 °C; homogenization 80 bar P2: 80 °C; P3: 95 °C for 6 min). Following the pasteurization the milk was cooled to 22 °C, and Protex 7L was added at a 7.8 U * kg-1 dosage together with the culture, just before the fermentation was started by applying YO-Mix 860 (YM 860). This culture is used in the dairy industry for yogurts with higher protein content. The inoculated milk was poured into glass beakers containing 100 ml each and fermented at 43 °C to a final pH of 4.6. As soon as pH 4.6 was achieved, the yogurt was manually stirred and subsequently cooled with a PHE with no additional backpressure than the one created by the fully opened backpressure valve to 24 °C, and following stored in a cold room (4-6 °C).

Yoghurt stirred - UHT - MINI

Procedure 1) Mix all powder ingredients and add the dry blend to the milk / water under good agitation at 45°C except the enzymes; 1 a) Cool down to ambient temperature to about 20 - 25 C; 1 b) Add enzyme Protex 6 L to trial number 2 and 4 , enzymate for 30 min under agitation Mini UHT.

START by adding 2 I UHT milk; 2- preheat to 65°C (P1); 3) homogenize at 65°C / 200 bar; 4) preheat to 80°C (P2); 5) pasteurize 95°C for 6 minutes (P3); 6) cool to 45°C (K1); 7) cool to 5°C (K2); END by adding 1 I milk

Add the Protex 7 L to the trials 3 and 4; 8) Real time fermentation: Add starter culture YO-mix 860; 9) Fermentation at 43 C; 10) measure fermentation by Cinac pH equipment; 11) fermentation to pH 4,60; 12) cooling on plate heat exchanger to 24°C; 13) filling; 15- store at 5°C.

Figures 4 -7 show results. The results shown that all four samples are dull, but samples 1 and 2 are grainer than samples 3 and 4, as seen from the stdl Very smooth surfaces have a high 'Std1' value. Std1 is calculated by measuring the standard deviation a at the base level(O) and first level(1) in a Gaussian Pyramid. Std1 is value from level 1 divided with the value from level 0.

Sample 3 and 4 also appear more white and shinny than sample 1 and 2. (seen from the energy and HotRatio/nearHotRatio values).

Energy = how much light reflected from the whole sample.

HotRatio = How much light reflected in the small red ring seen in the picture from the surfacescan.

nearHotRatio = How much light reflected in the green ring seen in the picture from the surfacescan.

SurfaceScan has been developed to visualize and quantify light reflection from food surfaces, e.g. how shiny and grainy a yoghurt appears. The SurfaceScan uses a ring light with six LEDs and a standard greyscale camera. Smooth and very glossy yoghurt acts as a perfect mirror, resulting in a sharp image of the LED whereas grainy yoghurt is a "poor mirror" and hence results in a very diffuse image where the LED cannot be seen. Example 3

Texture increase in protein fortified Labneh by applying NP7L in combination with and without alginate.

Labneh has been traditionally produced by physical separation of whey and subsequent concentration of dairy solids, mainly protein, in yogurt. Mainly due to its high levels of fat and protein (8-15% fat and 5-7% protein), production of Labneh without separation rarely achieves the same texture as a traditional method. Sandy, soft and dull looking textures represent a serious hurdle to overcome for dairy producers looking to upscale production of Labneh in a hygienic method that involves no concentration by separation. Skim recombined milk was standardised in terms of protein (6.1 % (w/v)) and fat (8.0 % (w/v)) with MPC70 and sweet whey powder. NaCI at 0.20-0.40% and sodium alginate at 0.054-0.072% were added prior to processing as part of industrialized Labneh's common recipes. The standardised milk was subjected to pasteurisation in a plate heat exchanger (PHE; 95 °C; 6 min). Subsequently, the milk was cooled to 4 °C for overnight storage and later on heated up and inoculated with YO- Mix 300 (20 DCU/100L; DuPont Culture Units) and CHOOZIT MA14 (10 DCU/100L)

respectively. At the same time, an appropriate amount of NP7L (22.5 - 34.0 Units/kg), which was adjusted to each particular protein concentration, was added per 100 ml inoculated milk. The fermentation was conducted at 35 °C in a water bath in 5 liter vats. As soon as pH 4.6 was reached, the labneh was stirred manually and subsequently cooled with a PHE with no additional backpressure than the one created by the fully opened backpressure valve to 20-22 °C, and following to 4-6 °C in a cooled room. Labneh samples were stored for 28 days, whereas flow curves were measured after 4 days using a cone plate method.

Upon the application of NP7L, the apparent viscosity as well as the predicted "viscosity in mouth" (extracted shear stress at a shear rate of 10 s* " ) were significantly increased by the addition of NP7L (Figures 10 and 11). Furthermore, the stickiness in mouth (slope of the linear regression of the shear rate range of 33 - 160 s* " ) was eliminated due to the fact the slope of the enzymatically treated Labneh together with alginate addition has a negative slope (Figure 12). A direct correlation between NP7L dosage and final Labneh viscosity was observed as well (data not shown). Labneh produced with the presence of NP7L was thick on the spoon, smooth in the mouth and eye and had a melting mouthcoating, all of these being positive attributes which cannot be obtained unless NP7L with or without alginate is used.

Example 4 Texture increase in Sour Cream employing NP7L

Pre-pasteurized skim milk (72°C; 15 sec) was standardised in terms of fat (5.0 and 9.0 % (w/w)) with cream 38% fat (w/w) which resulted in a protein content of 3.7% and 3.5% (w/w) for the 5% and 9% fat containing sour cream base, respectively. In a further trial, the milk was standardised to protein and fat of 4.2% (w/w) protein and 5% (w/w) fat as well as 4.2% (w/w) protein and 9% (w/w) fat. The protein fortified milk was subjected to pasteurisation in a plate heat exchanger (PHE; 95 °C; 6 min). Subsequently, the milk was cooled to 4 °C for overnight storage and later on reheated to 45 °C and cooled down to 22°C to avoid fat crystallisation and inoculated with Probat™ 505 (7 DCU/100L; DuPont Culture Units) and Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris at 3 gram/1 OOL, respectively. At the same time, an appropriate amount of NP7L (6.4 - 8.5 Units/kg), which was adjusted to each particular protein concentration, was added per 100 ml inoculated milk. The fermentation was conducted at 22 °C in a water bath in 5 liter vats for about 16-18 hours. As soon as pH 4.6 was reached, the sour cream fermentation was terminated, stirred manually and smoothened through a plate heat exchanger in-series with a Ytron-Z 1.50FC-2.0.1 (YTRON Process technology GmbH, Bad Ensdorf, Germany) adjusted to level 5 (5%) followed by filling in cups and storage in a cold room at 4-6 °C. The sour cream samples were stored for 28 days, whereas flow curves were measured after 14 days using a cone plate method.

Upon the application of NP7L, the apparent viscosity (Figure 13) as well as the predicted "thickness in mouth" (extracted shear stress at a shear rate of 10 s* " ; Figure 14) were significantly increased by the addition of NP7L. Moreover, a protein fortification together with enzymation with NP7L resulted in a synergistic viscosity increase being higher than the sum of protein fortification and NP7L addition on their own. Overall, the texture of the product was dominated by the thickness, while the stickiness (slope of the linear regression of the shear rate range of 33 - 160 s* " ) of the produced sour cream was low. Moreover, the stickiness in mouth was significantly reduced due to the fact the slope of the enzymatically treated sour cream, or fortified and enzymatically treated sour cream has a negative slope or is less steep compared to the non-enzymatically treated reference (Figure 15). A direct correlation between NP7L dosage and final sour cream viscosity was observed as well (data not shown).

Example 5

Sensory analysis of sour cream with and without the addition of NP7L

The 9% (w/w) fat containing sour cream base was made as follows. Skimmed milk (-4443 g), cream 38% fat (-1421 g) and skim milk powder (-146 g) were mixed under good agitation at 45°C and subjected to homogenization and pasteurization at 95°C for 6 minutes (P1 : 65°C; homogenization 80 bar P2: 80°C; P3: 95°C for 6 minutes). Following the pasteurization, the milk was cooled to 22°C and the starter culture mixture was added (7 DCU/100L Probat™ 505 and Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris at 3 gram/100L). At the same time, between 3.4 and 5.8 U/kg NP7L were added. The fermentation was conducted at 22 °C until pH 4.60 was measured. Next the sour cream was passed through a plate heat exchanger in-series with a Ytron-Z 1.50FC-2.0.1 (YTRON Process technology GmbH, Bad Ensdorf, Germany) adjusted to level 5 (5%) followed by filling in cups and storage in a cold room at 4-6 °C. The final product had a fat content of 9.09% (w/w) and a protein content of 4.0% (w/w). The sour cream samples were stored at least for 5 days but no longer than 14 days and assessed by the sensory panel.

To describe the impact on sensory perceivable product attributes, descriptive sensory analysis was chosen. The basis for the descriptive analysis is ISO 13299 "Sensory analysis - Methodology- General guidance for establishing a sensory profile". In the sensory descriptive analysis, the intensity of each descriptor was evaluated on a line scale with two anchor points indicating low and high intensity, respectively. The anchor points for low and high was taught to the panel in the training/calibration sessions. All samples were evaluated in triplicate. The sensory panel consists of 7 persons, who have all passed the basic sensory screening test before they were accepted in the panel before taking part in the descriptive analysis of this analysis. The panelists were trained in recognizing and intensity scaling of the product attributes. A definition of the attributes can be found in Table 3.

Table 3: Definition of tested attributes in the sensory assessment of high protein yogurt

Fat Take some sample into your mouth. Evaluate its fat content by gently swirling the perception sample around in the oral cavity with your tongue.

Acidity Take a new spoonful of sample. Evaluate the intensity of acidic taste in your mouth.

Bitter Evaluate the intensity of bitter taste in your mouth.

Sweetness Evaluate the intensity of sweet taste in the mouth.

In a new spoonful of sample, app. 5 ml, evaluate the harmony among flavors and the

Flavor

overall flavor/aroma intensity in the mouth.

As shown in Figure 16, the sensory attributes: uneven surface, flavor fullness, sweet, bitter, acidic, fat perception and soft/velvet remained non-significant upon the application of the NP7L. However, all attributes related to viscosity were significantly increased (p < 0.05) (stir resistance, thickflow spoon and force- pa I ate). There was no change in bitterness upon the appilication of the NP7L (non-significant).

Example 6

Sensory analysis of prior to fermentation concentrated skimmed milk resulting in high

protein yogurt

Pre-pasteurized skim milk (72°C; 15 sec) was subjected to ultrafiltration (tailor-made; 20 kDa spiral-membrane; 4 h; 4-6 °C) in order to concentrate the milk to 10% (w/w) protein. The pre- concentrated milk was either diluted to 9% (w/w) protein with permeate and subjected to

pasteurization or was kept frozen (-20 °C) for no longer than 6 weeks, defrosted and then

diluted with frozen permeate. The UF pre-concentrated milk was pasteurized as follows.

Preheat to 65 °C (P1), homogenize at 65 °C / 200 bar, preheat to 80 °C (P2) and finally

pasteurized 95 °C for 6 minutes (tailor-made pasteurizer, Service Teknik, Randers, Denmark).

Subsequently, the milk was cooled down to 10 °C until the fermentation was started. As starter culture YO-Mix™ 860 (20 DCU/100L) was used, at the same time 18.4 U/kg NP7L were added to the milk. The fermentation was conducted at 43°C until pH 4.60, subsequently, the yogurt was manual stirred and passed through a plate heat exchanger in-series with a Ytron-Z 1.50FC- 2.0.1 (YTRON Process technology GmbH, Bad Ensdorf, Germany) adjusted to 30% followed by filling in cups and storage in a cold room at 4-6°C.

To describe the impact on sensory perceivable product attributes, descriptive sensory analysis was chosen. The basis for the descriptive analysis was ISO 13299 "Sensory analysis - Methodology- General guidance for establishing a sensory profile". In the sensory descriptive analysis, the intensity of each descriptor was evaluated on a line scale with two anchor points indicating low and high intensity, respectively. The anchor points for low and high was taught to the panel in the training/calibration sessions. All samples were evaluated in triplicate. The sensory panel consisted of 8 persons, who have all passed the basic sensory screening test before they were accepted in the panel before taking part in the descriptive analysis of this analysis. The panelists were trained in recognizing and intensity scaling of the product attributes. A definition of the attributes can be found in Table 4. Table 4: Definition of tested attributes in the sensory assessment of high protein yogurt

Mouth Wait for 10 - 15 seconds after swallowing, before

Coating evaluating the amount of sample in the mouth. "Much"

is if it is necessary to swallow several times.

As shown in Figures 17 and 18, upon the addition of the NP7L in a dosage of 18.4 U/kg, there was a significant reduction mouth coating as well as a signifcant increase in gloss (p < 0.05), the high protein yogurt containing 0.25% (w/w) fat as well as 1.5% (w/w) fat. The attribute "gloss" was increased (p < 0.05). The resistance on the spoon and the stickness in mouth were signifcantly reduced (p < 0.01). The particle perception, cheesyness, stickiness on the spoon, thickflow in mouth and the soft/velvet feeling were signifcantly reduced (p < 0.001). There was no change in bitterness upon the application of the NP7L (non-significant). Example 7

Sensory analysis of high protein yogurt

To describe the impact on sensory perceivable product attributes, descriptive sensory analysis was chosen. The basis for the descriptive analysis was ISO 13299 "Sensory analysis - Methodology- General guidance for establishing a sensory profile". In the sensory descriptive analysis, the intensity of each descriptor was evaluated on a line scale with two anchor points indicating low and high intensity, respectively. The anchor points for low and high was taught to the panel in the training/calibration sessions. All samples were evaluated in triplicate. The sensory panel consisted of 7 persons, who have all passed the basic sensory screening test before they were accepted in the panel before taking part in the descriptive analysis of this analysis. The panelists were trained in recognizing and intensity scaling of the product attributes. A definition of the attributes can be found in Table 5.

Table 5: Definition of tested attributes in the sensory assessment of high protein yogurt

4 Resistance How much force is needed to press the tongue towards the palate ?

How difficult is it to remove the tongue from the palate after the above

5 Sticky evaluation? Press the tongue repeatedly against the palate and notice

release. "Much" is when the tongue seems to stick to the palate.

Evaluate the amount of "flour'Vpowder in the mouth after swallowing,

6 Floury

perceived as not-dissolved sample left in the mouth.

Wait for 10-15 sec. after swallowing, before evaluating the amount of sample

7 Remnant

in the mouth. "Much" is if it is necessary to swallow several times.

When the sample is gone, the astringent sensation in the mouth is evaluated.

8 Astringent

"Much" is if the throat feels dry, as with tannin acid.

Flavour In a new spoonful of sample (approx. 5 ml), evaluate the intensity of

9

overall flavour/aroma in the mouth.

10 Acidity Evaluate the intensity of lactic acid taste in the mouth.

11 Bitter taste Evaluate the intensity of bitter taste in the mouth.

Protein

12 Evaluate the intensity of protein flavour in the mouth (whey protein).

flavour

For the sensory analyses, stirred yogurt was produced on a Mini-UHT (Service, Teknik,

Denmark). Pre-pasteurized skim-milk (72 °C; 15 s) from Aral Amba (Viby, Denmark) was applied and fortified to 8% (w/w) and 9% (w/w) of protein with milk protein concentrate 70 [5.6% (w/w)] and a WPC 34 [2.0% (w/w)]. The final fat content of the yogurt was 1.5% (w/w). All powder ingredients were mixed at 45°C except the enzymes. A commercial enzyme product (Protex 7L) was added in the range of 16.3 to 32.6 U/kg for a milk with 8% protein and in the range of 18.4 to 36.7 U/kg for the 9% protein milk. The enzyme dosage corresponded to 0.6% (w/Wappiied rotein) and 1.2% (w/w ap piied protein)- The prepared yogurt milk was preheated to 65 °C (P1), homogenized at 65 °C / 200 bar, heated to 80 °C (P2) and pasteurized at 95 °C for 6 minutes (P3). Subsequently, the milk was cooled down to 5 °C and stored overnight. The next morning, YO-mix 860 (20 DCU/100L; DuPont, Brabrand, Denmark) was added to initiate the fermentation. The fermentation was conducted at 43 °C and terminated by cooling at pH 4.6 - 4.65. The yogurt was cooled on a plate heat exchanger with increased back pressure (additional 2 bar) in order to reduce the viscosity of the final product. Until the product was analyzed, the product was stored at 5°C. The sensory data of the 8% (w/w) protein and 9% (w/w) protein containing yogurts (control (no enzyme), 16.3 U/kg and 32.6 U/kg for the 8% protein yogurt and 18.4 U/kg and 36.7 U/kg for the 9% protein yogurt) are shown in figure 19 (A) and (B).

As shown in Figure 19, gloss, smoothness, powdery taste (floury) as well as the astringent perception could be significantly improved upon the application of the P7L in both yogurt trials compared to the non-enzymated yogurt reference. Surprisingly, the bitterness of the enzymated yogurt was not affected (increased) compared to the enzymated yogurts.

While preferred embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described herein, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that such embodiments are provided by way of example only. Numerous variations, changes, and substitutions will now occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. It should be understood that various alternatives to the embodiments of the invention described herein may be employed in practicing the invention. It is intended that the following claims define the scope of the invention and that methods and structures within the scope of these claims and their equivalents be covered thereby.

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