Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Paul S. Kindstedt


The optimization of powder x-ray diffraction (PXRD) for the study of cheese crystals was the focus of this study. A survey was conducted of various manifestations of calcium lactate crystals on the rindless surface and within mechanical openings of Cheddar cheese using PXRD. The diffraction reference card database contained a card that was entitled calcium lactate pentahydrate and corresponded to some of the crystalline material found on the cheeses. Diffractions patterns generated from other samples of crystalline material revealed the existence of an unknown crystal that resembled and behaved similarly to calcium lactate pentahydrate, but did not match the reference card.

The existence of two enantiomeric variants of calcium lactate pentahydrate had been firmly established; an experiment was thus designed to determine if the unknown diffraction pattern represented one enantiomeric form, and if the ambiguously named reference card represented the other. This experiment demonstrated that the existing reference card corresponded to calcium DL-lactate pentahydrate and that the unknown diffraction pattern was generated from calcium L-lactate pentahydrate. This study resulted in the proposal of a new reference card for calcium L-lactate pentahydrate and the proposed renaming of the existing card to calcium DL-lactate pentahydrate. This discovery allows the rapid identification of both forms of calcium lactate that form in and on cheese.

In order to conduct the survey and experiment that are described above, the PXRD method needed to be adjusted for use with cheese crystals. Samples of cheese crystals pose a particular challenge because they are often composed of high proportions of moisture, fat, protein, and other amorphous material; these all disrupt the efficient diffraction of crystals and thus needed to be removed or minimized. The removal of water from samples is a particular challenge because some cheese crystals contain water of hydration that may be driven off in the process, thereby destroying the crystals. A protocol for the preparation of cheese samples for PXRD was consequently developed.



Number of Pages

98 p.

Included in

Food Science Commons