Swiss Federal Dairy Research Station, Bern-Liebefeld

Chemical structure and composition of fatty acids in milk fat

Milk fat contains approximately 400 different fatty acids. They can originate directly from the fat of the foodstuffs or the animal tissue, formed either by biohydrogenation in the rumen of the cow or synthesised in the mammary gland. At the present time, the official methods for the determination of fatty acid composition in milk fat allow the determination of approximately 20 fatty acids and the results are expressed as relative percentages. A more modern method which allows the determination of approximately 70 fatty acids and where the results are expressed in absolute values (grams of fatty acid per 100 g fat) has been developed at the FAM. This analytical improvement has yielded new knowledge concerning the modification of milk fat in relation to foodstuffs

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