Cow’s milk allergy is a frequent cause of malnutrition in formula-fed infants below the age of six months. Studies show that the allergy is typically associated with gastrointestinal problems, reduced growth and atopic dermatitis.
Speaking at the Arla Foods Ingredients annual seminar in Beijing, Professor Yvan Vandenplas from UZ Brussel, Belgium, reviewed studies that have investigated useful alternatives to standard formulas made with cow’s milk.
The findings suggest that formulas based on partially hydrolysed whey protein reduce the incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as constipation and colic and atopic dermatitis.
Professor Vandenplas joined an impressive line-up of specialists, who presented the latest research within whey proteins for infant, medical and sports nutrition to seminar participants.
Their audience included some of the top players in China’s infant formula industry, along with representatives from medical, sports nutrition and health food companies.
Big market opportunities
Following the introduction of the Chinese regulation on Food for Special Medical Purposes (FSMP) in 2014, a big market has opened for including whey proteins and other whey ingredients in foods that target specific nutritional needs.
Of interest to the infant formula industry, the regulation covers low-lactose or lactose-free formula, hypoallergenic formula and formula for pre-term infants and infants with metabolic disorder.
“One of our strengths is that we have documented the nutritional benefits of our whey protein hydrolysates. So we can provide Chinese manufacturers with scientific support,” says Jakob Madsen Pedersen, Arla Foods Ingredients business development manager for pediatric nutrition.
New clinical studies
Many other opportunities exist within medical nutrition for elderly consumers diagnosed with sarcopenia (age-related muscle wasting) or Type 2 diabetes.
Arla Foods Ingredients is currently conducting clinical studies to document the respective abilities of whey protein to maintain muscle mass and stabilise blood sugar.
“Prior to the regulation, FSMP was registered as medicine. A high registration fee and long approval time limited its development in China,” says Jing Sun, Arla Foods Ingredients business development manager for health & performance nutrition.
“Today the Chinese government is building legal systems in line with international standards to meet increasing demand.”
A taste of the possibilities
Seminar attendees were given a taste of the possibilities from the product samples at the event: a crystal-clear protein water with whey protein hydrolysate, a protein bar enriched with milk calcium, an instant whey protein and milk calcium powder mix and UHT-stable whey protein drink.
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