Where is the biotechnology in the Tatua story?
Tatua is a co-operative dairy company that produces a range of products based on milk and milk components.
The focus story explains the production of casein and casein products, which can be used as nutritional supplements for specialised diets.
Using bacteria to produce lactic acid
Casein (‘curds’) is separated from the rest of milk when the milk is acidified.
One way of doing this is using special bacteria, which produce lactic acid. This is what happens when yoghurt is made, and is an example of how living organisms can be used, in this case, to separate the casein from milk.
Using enzymes to break down proteins
Enzymes are able to break down the casein protein into peptides and amino acids (the same process that happens during human digestion). Enzymes are produced by living cells.
Tatua buys the enzymes from a biological supplier and then uses them to break the casein from milk into smaller peptides and free amino acids.
What a biotechnologist needs to consider
Biotechnologists need to provide the best conditions for growing the bacteria so that they produce just the right amount of lactic acid.
Usually the bacteria are grown in culture first to create large numbers, and then this culture is transferred to milk. When using enzymes, a biotechnologist must check what the optimum conditions are for the enzymes to work.
The biotechnologist must then monitor all stages of the production process to make sure that the correct operating conditions are being maintained. The quality and properties of the end product are very important, and need to meet the customer specifications.
Testing and monitoring is carried out at every stage of the process. Biotechnologists also need to consider the effect of carrying out the process on a large scale (upscaling) in order to produce larger amounts of product.
- 01 December 2005