U.S. Dairy Products > Permeate

Health & Nutrition

Permeate was first used as a cost-effective ingredient that added browning and flavor benefits to baked products. However, researchers discovered the salty characteristics of permeate and its ability to replace salt in formulations. 

The Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison - which works in partnership with the U.S. dairy industry- began conducting projects using permeate several years ago. The initial focus was on browning, flavor enhancement and cost reduction, but researchers learned that permeate also had salt-enhancement characteristics.

Differences in Sodium Content: Salt Versus Permeate

Product (Serving Size)Control - With Salt Sodium Content (mg)Permeate - Without Salt* Sodium Content (mg)% of Sodium Reduction
Scones (55g) 230 110 52%
Chocolate Chip Cookies (30g) 100 40 60%
Snack Cake (55g) 45 40 11%
Pound Cake (88g) 150 80 47%
Muffins (55g) 230 70 70%
BBQ Popcorn Seasoning on 1 Cup Popcorn (16g) 290 210 28%
Broccoli Cream Soup (1 cup) 550 135 75%

Source: Center for Dairy Research, Madison, Wisconsin
*In some bakery formulations, sodium-based leavening agents are responsible for the remaining system.

It is not clear which components of permeate are responsible for the salty properties. While the mechanisms are uncertain, it is possible that the non-protein nitrogen compounds - urea, creatine, creatinine, uric acid, orotic acid and ammonia - may serve as flavor potentiators. The mineral salts - calcium phosphate, magnesium, sodium and potassium - may function as salt enhancers.