Within the four fundamental sub-sectors – milk, yogurt, butter and cheese – are the treasures of the great Italian dairy tradition, and the most refined innovative products.
According to European legislation, “milk” means the product of the milking of one or more cows, whereas “raw milk” is the milk produced by secretion of the mammary gland of farmed animals that has not been heated to more than 40°C and has not been subjected to any treatments with a similar effect.
The following types of milk are considered “drinking milk”:
- raw, i.e., milk not subjected to temperatures exceeding 40°C or treatment with similar effects
- whole, i.e., milk subjected to heat treatment and with a normalized fat content (with minimum fat content of 3.50% m/m, but 4.00% m/m or more is also admitted)
- non-normalized milk (fat content not modified but equal to at least 3.50% m/m); semi-skimmed milk, i.e., milk subjected to heat treatment, with a fat content between 1.50% (m/m) and 1.80% (m/m);
- skimmed milk, i.e., milk subjected to heat treatment, with a fat content less than or equal to 0.50% (m/m).
Milk is offered on the market in many varieties, each with different characteristics in order to meet the different needs of consumers, making possible to make purchasing choices based on habits, taste, frequency of purchase or the need for a particular diet, maintaining the fundamental contribution to health that milk provides daily.
It range from classic fresh milk to micro-filtered or long-life milk, from whole to partially or totally skimmed, from milk without lactose to that added with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and more. Or enriched with irresistible ingredients, such as cocoa and fruit. The full taste of milk, its softness and nutritional characteristics make it pleasant to taste it and fully enjoy its qualities at different times of the day: at breakfast to “get off to a good start”, as a snack or in the evening for a peaceful goodnight. Milk is not only good and nutritious: the strict controls of the industry make it absolutely safe.
Since the dawn of time and the first dairy farms, butter has been a fundamental food for the nutrition of the population. It is a product derived from ancient traditions and has managed to maintain its role in European cuisine. Community legislation requires butter to have a minimum fat content of 82%, 2% dry extract and 16% water; if it is salty (2%), the admitted fat content goes down to 80%.
Although butter is is high in fat, it contains less calories than oil because, it is also composed of water. The conservation of the butter must take place in the refrigerator during its shelf-life, otherwise its quality will deteriorate. The minimum shelf life is left to the manufacturer who can establish it on the basis of challenge tests, predictive microbiology, etc., taking into account all stages of marketing.
Function food par excellence thanks to its numerous and beneficial effects on health: from the enhanced digestion of lactose to the inhibition of the growth of pathogenic intestinal microflora, from the reduction of cholesterol to anti-hypertensive action. Its sour taste makes it pleasantly thirst quenching, while its freshness makes it a particularly pleasing food both at breakfast, as a snack, and to complement a light meal. But it is also used as ingredient in many dishes. Thanks to the selection of particular bacterial strains, they have unique peculiarities which, for example, stimulate the immune defence mechanisms or improve intestinal function. Functional or probiotic, prebiotic or symbiotic. Creamy or compact or to drink. Natural or with fruit. Whole or skimmed. The wide offer allows to meet everyone’s needs, both in terms of palatability and health.
In addition to taste, aroma, nutritional value, safety, ease of use, versatility, and innovation, the quality of European cheeses is intimately linked to the characteristics and wholesomeness of the raw materials and to the skill of the cheesemakers, who have all made the European dairy tradition the richest in the world. We can find cow, goat, sheep or buffalo cheeses, or mixed, born from the combination of milks of different species.
The cheese is suitable for people of all ages and is able to satisfy all tastes. It is also particularly suitable for growing children and young people, due to its high content of proteins, calcium and fats. For those who have dietary concerns or special needs, from the vast family of cheeses on the market today, it is possible to choose the ones that best suit their individual needs in terms of calcium intake, quantity of fat and energy. The offer of light dairy products, or in any case with a moderate caloric content, is now increasingly wide: thanks to the progress of technological processes, not only “modern” products such as cottage cheese, but also traditional Italian ones, can be found in lighter versions.
- Soft cheeses，such as crescenza, Gorgonzola PDO, robiola, stracchino, and Taleggio PDO, are characterized by having high humidity (between 45 and 70%) which makes them soft, or can be subjected to a brief maturation or ageing period.
- Fresh cheeses，such as mozzarella, mascarpone, burrata, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO, primo sale, cream cheese, tomino and cottage cheese, all have a delicate flavor and aroma, they are white in color have a smooth texture, and are ready for consumption immediately after production.
- Semi-hard cheeses，such as provolone, caciocavallo, caciotta, emmenthal, and pecorino, which owe their consistency and flavor to an ageing phase which can last up to six months.
- Hard cheeses，such as Grana Padano PDO, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and Pecorino Romano PDO, some of the excellences of the Italian industrial tradition, are cheeses whose particular processing means they can be matured for many months (even three years) and that during the maturation they are enriched with flavors and scents unique in the world.