This is a guest blog post by Carol Harvey, Director of food/nutrition labeling and product development at Palate Works.
Apparently, Greek yogurt is the new oat bran/pomegranate/acai/quinoa/take-your-pick. It has almost conquered the yogurt market, despite being simply a more concentrated version of regular yogurt (some water has been removed, so nutrition density, including protein content, is still the same per calorie vs. regular yogurt, although the concentrations of potassium and calcium are actually reduced in Greek yogurts due to their loss in the whey/water that is drained off in processing).
Can the Toga Effect work for a butter-like product? The concept sounds good – making a butter lower in fat and calories, plus adding beneficial bacteria (aka probiotics). The first two feats have already been achieved in various “butter blends,” where part of the butter is replaced with another substance (water, water + vegetable oil, etc.). And yogurt has been used in a margarine-type spread before (Brummel and Brown), although the amount of yogurt there is very small, meaning no probiotic benefit.
Ilios is promoting their cultured Greek Yogurt Butter (http://www.iliosbutter.com/) for its lower fat, calories, cholesterol and sodium compared to regular salted butter, plus the beneficial bacteria, increased protein content (albeit only 0.5 g per 1 tablespoon serving) and no preservatives.
Under the Toga:
Taste: Pleasant, buttery, slightly sour from the yogurt; a bit more salty-tasting than expected, given the low sodium content posted (20 mg per Tbsp).
Texture: Somewhat dry and crumbly when cold… may not spread easily (due to the protein, which does not melt). On hot toast it’s just like butter.
Ingredient(s) of interest: Yogurt with live cultures. This is a good thing for the probiotic bacteria (although one serving probably doesn’t provide much), but a bad thing for shelf life and versatility (the protein is the problem – it fosters bad bacteria and mold, plus separates from the fat when cooking). Note also that the beneficial bacteria will be killed when the butter is cooked, so if you want those buggers, don’t cook this butter.
Prohibited Claim(s): “Healthy”. The product does not meet FDA labeling criteria for use of the term, because total fat and saturated fat are too high.
Dubious Nutrition Data: Calcium content. It is highly unlikely (ok… impossible) for 1 tablespoon (14 g) of this product to have 20% DV for calcium without fortification. Here’s the math: Nonfat yogurt contains no saturated fat, so all the saturated fat is coming from the butter. If one tablespoon (14 g) contains 5 g saturated fat, then a 14 g serving of Ilios contains 9.6 g real butter (14 Tbsp real butter contains 7.3 g sat. fat) and therefore 4.6 g non-fat yogurt. To cross-check, protein is only coming from the yogurt; with 0.5 g protein per 14 g product, that means about 5 g yogurt goes into it (170 g Greek yogurt contains about 18 g protein). Five grams of Greek yogurt contains a maximum of 8 g calcium, which is less than 1% of the Daily Value (1000 mg).
Suggested product improvement(s):
1. Add a “natural” preservative, such as vitamin E, or more salt. “One month after opening” is a very short shelf life, unless you can use a large 15 oz tub before then. Our sample tub already was turning into blue cheese (blue veining) after being open less than a month; OR
2. Skip the protein/yogurt, but keep the probiotics, and add a vegetable oil to lower the saturated fat and cholesterol. Oh… and then you’ll need to change the name. Bacteria Butter, or Pro-Buttic, anyone?
Carol Harvey has been a nutrition labeling and product development consultant for over 15 years. She can be reached at palatemail [AT] yahoo [DOT] com.