Milk proteins including casein are sources of peptides with bioactivity. One of these peptides is beta-casomorphin (BCM) which belongs to a group of opioid peptides formed from β-casein variants. Beta-casomorphin 7 (BCM7) has been demonstrated to be enzymatically released from the A1 or B β-casein variant. Epidemiological evidence suggests the peptide BCM 7 is a risk factor for development of human diseases, including increased risk of type 1 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases but this has not been thoroughly substantiated by research studies. High performance liquid chromatography coupled to UV-Vis and mass spectrometry detection as well as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) has been used to analyze BCMs in dairy products. BCMs have been detected in raw cow's milk and human milk and a variety of commercial cheeses, but their presence has yet to be confirmed in commercial yoghurts. The finding that BCMs are present in cheese suggests they could also form in yoghurt, but be degraded during yoghurt processing. Whether BCMs do form in yoghurt and the amount of BCM forming or degrading at different processing steps needs further investigation and possibly will depend on the heat treatment and fermentation process used, but it remains an intriguing unknown.
Keywords: Beta-casomorphin; cheese; fermentation; heat treatment; ripening; yoghurt.