Protein, casein and micellar salts in milk: Current content and historical perspectives

Bijl, E.; Valenberg, H.J.F. van; Huppertz, T.; Hooijdonk, A.C.M. van


The protein and fat content of Dutch bulk milk has been monitored since the 1950s and has increased considerably, by 11 and 20%, respectively, whereas milk yield has more than doubled. The change in protein and fat content of milk is advantageous for the dairy industry, as these are the 2 most economically valuable constituents of milk. Increases in protein and fat content of milk have allowed increases in the yield of various products such as cheese and butter. However, for cheese and other applications where casein micelles play a crucial role in structure and stability, it is not only casein content, but also the properties of the casein micelles that determine processability. Of particular importance herein is the salt partition in milk, but it is unknown whether increased protein content has affected the milk salts and their distribution between casein micelles and milk serum. It was, therefore, the objective of this research to determine the salt composition and protein content for individual cow milk and bulk milk over a period of 1 yr and to compare these data to results obtained during the 1930s, 1950s, and 1960s in the last century. Calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus content were determined by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry and inorganic phosphate, citrate, chloride, and sulfate content by anion-exchange chromatography in bulk milk and milk ultracentrifugate. In addition, ionic calcium and ionic magnesium concentration were determined by the Donnan membrane technique. We concluded that historical increase in milk yield and protein content in milk have resulted in correlated changes in casein content and the micellar salt fraction of milk. In addition, the essential nutrients, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in milk have increased the past 75 yr; therefore, the nutritional value of milk has improved. Key words: milk protein , casein , calcium phosphate , magnesium