International award for VU's big cheese

Professor Nagendra Shah's low-fat mozzarella is appreciated by weight-conscious pizza lovers the world over and his research into probiotic bacteria has led to the more efficient use of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus acidophilus in a range of dairy products.

After a lifetime of work in the dairy industry, the Victoria University Professor of Food Science and Technology was presented with the California Dairy Research Foundation's (CDRF) prestigious William C. Haines Dairy Science Award at a ceremony in San Francisco earlier this month.

Presenting the award, CDRF executive director Dr Joe O'Donnell, said Professor Shah "truly represents the diversity of dairy research and the global nature of the dairy industry".

"Over his 30-year career his work has spanned three continents, four countries and five universities and has focused on topics such as the use of probiotic bacteria in foods, the functional properties of milk, fermented dairy products and the development of low-fat mozzarella."

The award recognises researchers in chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, technology, nutrition and engineering whose work has made a significant contribution to dairy science and industry.

Professor Shah said he was honoured by the recognition: "Awards like this encourage scientists and academics to carry out innovative research in dairy science of commercial significance.

"My work on mozzarella cheese, which uses a number of innovative approaches to reduce fat content while retaining similar functionalities as a full-fat mozzarella, is a good example."

Professor Shah teaches and conducts research in the School of Biomedical and Health Sciences at VU's Werribee Campus. He is now working on microencapsulation to enhance stability of probiotic bacteria at room temperature as a precursor to its addition to juice, and on the impact of reducing salt content in cheeses.

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