There have been huge advances over the past 60 years in the development and analysis of infant formulas in comparison to breast milk. Paediatric nutrition experts are helping to narrow the gap between the two by focusing on how to best utilise the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM), which is unique to mammalian milk, and ensuring a balanced composition in infant formula.
NZMP, the global dairy ingredients brand of Fonterra, has been at the forefront of research and has been manufacturing MFGM complex lipid ingredients for more than 25 years. It has now been granted a patent allowing its European customers, who are using SureStart™ MFGM Lipid 100 and MFGM Lipid 70, the ability to position their products as beneficial for cognitive development.
The patent (EP 2211629) will give protection to customers until October 2028 and provide reassurance for consumers that they are purchasing a high-quality, innovative product with benefits that are backed by robust science.
When parents choose infant formula, they look for products that are as close to human milk as possible. Historically, milk fat has been replaced with vegetable oils, producing formulas that are usually diminished of the milk fat globule membrane complex lipids that are naturally present in breastmilk. Pure vegetable oils, unlike cow’s milk, do not have MFGM. It is now possible to obtain the more concentrated ingredients in MFGM at a commercial scale.
The benefits of MFGM ingredients were confirmed in an infant clinical study, presented by NZMP - the global dairy ingredients brand of Fonterra - in 2018. It found that an infant formula fortified with a SureStart™ MFGM ingredient to enrich the complex lipid content, improved some measures of cognitive development in infants.
NZMP Marketing and Business Development Manager for Paediatric Nutrition Angela Rowan says: “There is increasing consumer awareness around the role of MFGM complex lipids, such as phospholipids and gangliosides, to support brain and cognitive development in infants and young children.
“Our customers will be able to talk about cognition benefits for their products that contain NZMP’s SureStart™ MFGM ingredients due to the patent protection. The patent provides an added level of credibility for consumer brands.”
The granting of the patent leverages NZMP’s unique value proposition for SureStart™ MFGM Lipid ingredients in Europe.
NZMP Senior Research Scientist Dr Paul McJarrow says the European patent demonstrates NZMP’s leadership in nutrition backed by innovative science: “We’ve been manufacturing MFGM complex lipid ingredients for more than 25 years. Research and development undertaken over this time has allowed us to refine our product offerings, so that our customers can offer their consumers MFGM containing products and the benefits thereof.”
The patent is part of a family of patents that supports the use of MFGM complex lipid ingredients, including SureStart™ MFGM Lipids in maternal and paediatric formulations for increased cognitive development. These have also been granted in China, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Mexico, and Russia.
Human milk is the optimal source of nutrition for infants. When breastfeeding is not possible, infant and follow-on formulas are the only suitable alternative. When parents are choosing infant formula, they are looking for products that are as close to human milk as possible. Historically milk fat has been replaced with vegetable oils, and therefore formulas are usually diminished of the milk fat globule membrane complex lipids which are naturally present in breastmilk.
More information about cognition and the benefits of MFGM can be found in the following NZMP White Papers.
 Xia et al. (2018)