Abstract: The iron–lactoferrin complex (FeLf) is useful for dietary iron supplementation. However, the effects of FeLf on iron-catalyzed off-flavors in lipid-containing food products have not been reported. In this study, we investigated the effects of FeLf on off-flavors development during the production and storage of powdered milk with added fish oil. Powdered milk samples were formulated with FeLf or iron (II) sulfate, then stored at 37 °C for 5 mo. A sensory evaluation revealed that FeLf delayed the development of oxidized flavor and reduced metallic taste in the powdered milk compared with iron (II) sulfate. Headspace gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis showed that oxidized volatile compounds, such as pentanal, hexanal, heptanal, octanal, 1-penten-3-one, (Z)-4-heptenal, (E, E)-2,4-heptadienal, and (E)-2-octenal, were less developed in the powdered milk containing FeLf than in that containing iron (II) sulfate. Iron and lactoferrin (Lf) were retained in the high-molecular-weight (>10000 Da) fraction of the reconstituted FeLf-containing powdered milk after its manufacture and storage, whereas the antigenicity of Lf was lost after ultrahigh-temperature processing at 120 °C for 5 s. These results suggest that FeLf reduces the iron-catalyzed off-flavors that develop during the production and storage of powdered milk. The stable iron-holding property of FeLf contributes to the inhibition of oxidized and metallic volatile formation, although the loss of Lf antigenicity did not affect the stability of FeLf and the iron-catalyzed formation of off-flavors in the powdered milk. Consequently, FeLf is a suitable candidate for the simultaneous supplementation of a single food with iron and fish oil.
Practical Application: The supplementation of food products with iron and fish oil is a useful approach to redressing their inadequate intake in many populations. The iron–lactoferrin complex can protect food products against the off-flavors caused by iron-catalyzed lipid oxidation. Our results show that the iron–lactoferrin complex is useful for the simultaneous fortification of foods and nutraceuticals with iron and fish oil because this complex also reduces the formation of iron-catalyzed off-flavors in powdered milk enriched with fish oil.