Recipe for Success: Associate Professor Vincent Yeung Works with Students to Create ‘Clean Label’ Ice Cream
Ice cream. It’s the most popular frozen dessert product in the country. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that the average U.S. citizen consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream a year -- nearly two pounds a month.
But would consumption rise even higher if a new, improved ice cream product was available?
Vincent Yeung, associate professor of Dairy Science at Cal Poly, aims to find out. He and graduate student Joey Paglia, along with undergraduate students Anna Gates and Chloe Fung, are working to create a “cleaner” more protein-rich ice cream.
Yeung, who has been teaching at Cal Poly since 2006, is working on the project “Milk Protein Concentrates as Emulsifiers for ‘Clean Label’ Ice Cream Manufacture” to meet industry demand and consumer trends, which show a preference for simple, easy-to-understand ingredient lists, with little to no synthetic ingredients.
“The project involves using natural dairy protein ingredients to replace synthetic emulsifiers and to boost total protein content in ice cream,” Yeung explained. “The global market for clean-label products has been increasing, so we are working to create ice cream products that meet this trend. The challenge is to use natural ingredients to replace synthetic emulsifiers while maintaining all the desirable textural and organoleptic properties of ice cream.”
Yeung and his assistants are developing a base formula for vanilla; however, once that is worked out, different flavors can be produced.
The project is not only a win for future consumers, it also provides Learn by Doing benefits to the students involved.
“Joey and Anna have already conducted a trial run and produced several prototypes for evaluation,” Yeung said. “All analyses will be conducted by students. Successful development of clean label and high-protein ice cream could translate into new ice cream products produced at the Cal Poly Creamery. These products are made by students, using milk from our own dairy.”
As an undergraduate working on his senior project, Paglia helped develop a new formulation for the clean label premium ice cream products that the Cal Poly Creamery now produces and sells.
“I wanted to improve these products, their shelf-life stability, and meet a rising consumer demand for clean-label, high-protein products by using the protein powder in place of a traditional, artificially processed emulsifier for ice cream,” Paglia said. “I brought an idea to Dr. Yeung, and he helped me bring the concept into life.”
Paglia, a Cal Poly Food Science alumnus now pursuing a master’s degree in agriculture with a specialization in dairy products technology, is working on formulating the ice cream products. He processes them in the pilot plant at the Dairy Products Technology Center on campus and conducts analytical testing on the products over a six-month storage study to determine whether the high-protein powder could be a viable substitute for synthetic ice cream emulsifiers and to determine the properties of the ice cream and its shelf life.
“I’m able to get an abundance of Learn by Doing experiences through developing, processing and testing the product in the lab,” Paglia said. “I get to work on developing the products from start to finish and then make conclusions from the data I collect.”
So far, according to Yeung, the most challenging aspect of the project was finding financial support.
“Other than the technical challenge of creating the formula using novel dairy ingredients, funding any research project is tricky,” he said. “I am very grateful for the financial support provided by the California Dairy Research Foundation.”
The project, which began in earnest less than six months ago, still needs to undergo plant trials to include different levels of dairy ingredients.