SOUTH BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — For more than a decade, Lactalis has produced Galbani brand cheese right in Western New York.
In the United States, Galbani brand ricotta is the number one seller, and it’s made exclusively at the South Buffalo plant. Now, Lactalis – Galbani’s parent company – has found a way for people who are lactose intolerant to enjoy ricotta cheese.
“We did research and we saw that there are 30 million Americans that are currently lactose intolerant, so then we decided to look into ‘where is that consumer need the most?’ and we realized it was in ricotta,” said Ann Queen, director of innovation for Lactalis.
The Lactalis plant produces ricotta, mozzarella and provolone under the Galbani name. Because ricotta has the same amount of lactose as ice cream, local food scientists stepped in to create a container of the cheese than anyone can eat, regardless of dietary issues.
“It took about several months to get the right texture, flavor and mixture with the lactose broken down into it,” said research scientists Douglas Albright.
Ricotta cheese is made up of three ingredients: milk, vinegar and salt. There’s one special ingredient in the lactose-free version.
“The magic ingredient is the lactose enzyme because, basically, lactose intolerant people cannot break down these milk sugars into simple sugars alone with their bodies, so we help them by adding this enzyme to their formula,” Queen said.
It’s a delicate process to make sure each container comes out just right.
“You have to be careful because if you’re not, the flavor will be off, the texture won’t be what you want it,” Albright said.
In a day, researchers say Lactalis could make 1,000 containers of the lactose-free ricotta.
And as development ramps up, the demand is too. Right now, this product can be found at Tops or ShopRite, and starting next month the company is expanding into 800 additional stores.
“I think Western New Yorkers should be very proud this is produced and manufactured right in their backyard in Buffalo,” Queen said.
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Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.