Milk contains many health-promoting constituents, including immunoglobulins, bioactive fatty acids and peptides (often encrypted in casein and whey protein); many of these have been associated with health benefits following consumption. Studies
have shown that consumption of milk and dairy products may have positive health consequences such as decreased vulnerability to colon cancer and heart disease (Wells 2001). This healthy image of milk has resulted in dramatic growth in the diversification of dairy products in recent years and in huge increases in the varieties of products such as dairy desserts, flavored milk drinks, cheeses and yogurts. Indeed, milk can be considered a very suitable starting point for the innovative development of foods for health, or functional foods. Functional foods are already a well-developed concept in Japan, where the term was first introduced in 1984 (Arai 1996); the term refers to processed foods that are nutritious as well as an aid to bodily functions (Hasler 1998). Interestingly, markets for functional foods in Europe are predicted to increase dramatically in the next 5 years (Stanton
et al. 2001). Indeed, in 2000, $100 billion of the global market was attributed to functional food use (Weststrate et al. 2002). For these reasons, milk components such as lactoferrin,
-lactoglobulin and conjugated linoleic acid are examined for specific health purposes on an ongoing basis.