Previous research has demonstrated that unit operations in whey protein manufacture promote off-flavor production in whey protein. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of feed solids concentration in liquid retentate and spray drier inlet temperature on the flavor of dried whey protein concentrate (WPC). Cheddar cheese whey was manufactured, fat-separated, pasteurized, bleached (250 ppm hydrogen peroxide), and ultrafiltered (UF) to obtain WPC80 retentate (25% solids, wt/wt). The liquid retentate was then diluted with deionized water to the following solids concentrations: 25%, 18%, and 10%. Each of the treatments was then spray dried at the following temperatures: 180 °C, 200 °C, and 220 °C. The experiment was replicated 3 times. Flavor of the WPC80 was evaluated by sensory and instrumental analyses. Particle size and surface free fat were also analyzed. Both main effects (solids concentration and inlet temperature) and interactions were investigated. WPC80 spray dried at 10% feed solids concentration had increased surface free fat, increased intensities of overall aroma, cabbage and cardboard flavors and increased concentrations of pentanal, hexanal, heptanal, decanal, (E)2-decenal, DMTS, DMDS, and 2,4-decadienal (P < 0.05) compared to WPC80 spray dried at 25% feed solids. Product spray dried at lower inlet temperature also had increased surface free fat and increased intensity of cardboard flavor and increased concentrations of pentanal, (Z)4-heptenal, nonanal, decanal, 2,4-nonadienal, 2,4-decadienal, and 2- and 3-methyl butanal (P < 0.05) compared to product spray dried at higher inlet temperature. Particle size was higher for powders from increased feed solids concentration and increased inlet temperature (P < 0.05). An increase in feed solids concentration in the liquid retentate and inlet temperature within the parameters evaluated decreased off-flavor intensity in the resulting WPC80.
Whey protein is commonly used as a food ingredient because of its unique functional and nutritional properties. A bland flavor profile is critical for whey proteins, and previous studies have demonstrated that many unit operations negatively influence whey protein flavor. This study evaluated the role of spray drying parameters feeds solids concentration and inlet temperature on whey protein flavor. An increase in feed solids concentration and inlet temperature decreased off-flavors in WPC80 concurrent with increased particle size and decreased surface free fat.