Food | Polarimetric Determination of Lactose Content in High Lactose Dairy Products

The quality of milk and milk powders depends, among others, on the lactose content. The lactose needs to be extracted from dairy products having high lactose content (e.g. milk and milk powders) before using the polarimeter for concentration determination. Please note that the polarimetric approach is not suitable for lactose-free products.

The characteristic carbohydrate of milk is lactose, commonly referred to as “milk sugar”. Lactose is present in the milks of mammals in various amounts, e.g. goat milk contains 4.0-4.9 %, cows’ milk 4.7-5 %, and horse milk contains up to 6.3 % lactose. The average lactose content is around 4.8 % anhydrous lactose, while in human milk it varies from 4.5 % to 9.5 %.

In dairy products the amount of lactose differs depending on processing. In concentrated and dried products it increases proportional to the dry substance, whereas fermented products have a lower lactose concentration.

This application report provides an overview and a detailed description of the methods used to prepare milk samples in order to determine the lactose content by means of an Anton Paar Polarimeter. 

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