UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Fat-free chocolate milk processed for the first time with high-pressure jet technology exhibits enhanced viscosity, stabilizing cocoa particles in the fluid and eliminating the need for adding a controversial emulsifier.
That’s the conclusion of a team of Penn State researchers, whose study suggests that the new technology can preclude the use of carrageenan in chocolate milk. The widely used food additive — which helps keep the liquid smooth and well-mixed even after days sitting on a store shelf — is not desired by many consumers, especially in organic chocolate milk.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of carrageenan, concerns about its safety remain, according to team leader Federico Harte, professor of food science. He noted that some scientists believe that the additive — a compound extracted from red seaweed — can cause inflammation and digestive problems such as bloating and irritable bowel disease. As a result, the additive is banned in infant formula in the European Union.