Butter Quality Parameters


Butter is the animal fat obtained from the separation between fat and non-fat fraction of milk. Separation is done using a cream separator centrifuge method based on the differences in specific gravity. Fat (the cream part) has lighter density therefore it will rise to the top surface, while the non-fat fraction is in liquid form at the bottom. Cream separation results is used as raw material for making the butter. The process of making butter in principle consists of several stages:
1. Separation, the separation of fat and non-fat fraction using a cream separator.
2. Crystallization (churning), the formation of crystals by means of agitation (stirring) at low temperature to obtain crystals of small size so that the resulting butter will be smooth and sintered.
3. Neutralization, namely neutralizing the acid formed due to microbial activity in fermentation cream using alkali ‘food grade’ before it is pasteurized.
4. Pasteurization, which is to destroy microbial pathogens, reducing bacteria, the inactivation of enzymes, liquefy the fat and eliminate unwanted volatile components.


In Indonesian markets, butters mostly are imported from other countries, particularly countries that have more resources in dairy such as the countries in continental Europe, New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Based on CODEX STAN 279-1991, Butter is a fatty product derived exclusively from milk and/or products obtained from milk, principally in the form of an emulsion of the type water-in-oil. In this case, a milk protein that acts as the emulsifier. Other materials are approved for use therein is sodium chloride (NaCl) and salt ‘food grade’ other cultures of lactic acid producing bacteria and / or flavor, and water. Its composition is a minimum of 80% butterfat, a maximum of 16% water and 2% milk solids non-fat. Certain food additives in the making such as dyes and preservatives are allowed. Name butter is only allowed for butter containing more than 95% fat, and may be annotated ‘salted’ and ‘unsalted’ in accordance with national legislation.


Indonesia also has a standard for butter (SNI 01-3744-1995), which includes definition, quality requirements, sampling method, test methods, labeling requirements and how the packaging of butter. The definition of butter according to SNI is a soft solid shaped products made from fat milk or cream or a mixture thereof, with or without the addition of salt (NaCl) or permitted food additives. The following are the details of the quality requirements:

No. Parameters Unit Requirements
1 Condition:    
1.1 Aroma   Normal
1.2 Taste   Normal
1.3 Appearance on 30°C   Normal
2 Water %, b/b Max. 16,0
3 Milk Fat %, b/b Min. 80,0
4 FFA as butyric acid %, b/b Max. 0,5
5 Reichert Meissel Value   23-32
6 Polenske Value   1,6-3,5
7 Salt (NaCl) %, b/b Max. 4
8 Food additives   According to SNI 01-0222-1995 & Peraturan MenKes no. 722/MenKes/Per/IX/88
9 Heavy Metals    
9.1 Iron (Fe) mg/kg Max. 1,5
9.2 Copper (Cu) mg/kg Max. 0,1
9.3 Lead (Pb) mg/kg Max. 0,1
9.4 Zinc (Zn) mg/kg Max. 40,0
9.5 Mercury (Hg) mg/kg Max. 0,03
9.6 Tin (Sn) mg/kg Max. 40,0/250*
10 Arsenic (As) mg/kg Max. 0,1
11 Microbiological contaminants    
11.1 S. aureus colony/g Max. 1,0 x 102
11.2 Salmonella colony/100g Negative

* in the tin pack

Butter included in the food categories namely class 2 Fats, Oils and Oil Emulsion. The color is usually pale yellow, but the color range is quite varied from yellow to nearly white. Butter color differences can be influenced by the milk-producing animal feed and possibly also added food coloring such as annatto or carotene. Butter sold in the market contained in various types of packaging and sizes. Generally butter packaged in aluminum foil (sometimes given secondary packaging such as boxes), polypropylene plastic containers and cans. There are smaller pack per serving (about 10-15 grams), moderate pack (about 200-250 grams, 500 grams) to the bigger packs such as 1 or 2 kg.

How to choose a butter

Generally butter on the market already meet the quality requirements of CODEX and SNI. On the other hand, the amount of butter selection of various brands, packaging and size, sometimes making the confusion for the consumers. Here are some tips on how to choose the butter:
1. Check the condition of the packaging. If buying butter in aluminum foil packaging, select the packaging is intact, not broken or torn, and the butter was wrapped nicely and the shape has not changed. If you buy butter in plastic packaging PP (polypropylene), make sure it is sealed properly. If the butter purchased packaged in cans, select the can that
is still in intact condition, no dents, rust or bloating. A good quality butter has a distinctive aroma and a uniform color.
2. Check the expired date.
The shelf life of butter quite varied, there were only a few months, one year, there are even more than one year. Select the date of expiry is still quite long.
3. Pay attention to the ingredients. It’s better to choose butter that do not contain food additives such as colorants and preservatives. Pretty much the only cream butter composition of milk and water. The composition also affects the aroma and taste. The aroma of butter using lactic acid bacterial culture is stronger. If you liked the more salty taste, select the butter labeled ‘salted’, but if you prefer the plain one, select the ‘unsalted’. The difference between the composition of ‘salted’ with ‘unsalted’ is
only in the salt content.
4. Pay attention to the nutritional value information. Especially if the butter will be used for household scale. Butter including animal fats generally contain saturated fat and cholesterol levels that were quite high. Naturally, milk also contains trans fats, although the levels are not high when compared with trans fats in partially hydrogenated margarine.
Butter labeled ‘salted’ generally have a higher sodium levels than the ‘unsalted’. Compare the nutritional value of information between one and the other brands before making your choices.
5. Select the butter according to the appropriate needs. If you need only to spread butter bread, both for household and catering in the airlines, café and hotel, the butter in small packaging size of 10-15 grams per serving is more practical. If you need butter for cooking and baking household scale, medium size 200-500 grams is a good choice. If you have a business bakery, pastry or martabak, butter purchase large sizes such as 1 or 2 kg might be better cut your spending.

Tips on Storing Butter

According to ISO, the butter should be packed in a sealed container, not influenced and influence the content, secure during storage and transport. Butter can turn into rancid if left for a long time without a proper storage. Therefore, you should buy the butter in accordance with the required size and make sure you also have a refrigerator to store it.

A Refrigerator (fridge) is an ideal place to store it because the butter tends to melt at room temperature. The ideal storage temperature range is between 2-5oC for butter. Butter classified plastic fat with melting point range is quite wide, which is between 30°C (when the fat starts to melt) to 37°C (when fat is melted perfectly). Prior to usage, let the butter melted beforehand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes so that is easier to be applied.

Here are some characteristics of butter damaged already unfit for consumption:
– The aroma that turn into rancid or sour
– The taste is bitter or

– The color is uneven (usually due to bacterial contamination), sometimes there is a black or green spots on its surface (moldy)
– Its texture that resembles a candle, mushy and sticky

Other applications in the food service industry


As well as margarine, butter, including plastic fat, with the specific texture for bread spread. In addition, butter is also commonly used as a fat for cooking various types of foods (such as side dishes and vegetables), sauteing, baking, making a variety of sauces (from salty or savory like sauce butter chicken to the sweet one like chocolate sauce) , making martabak, decorate cake (buttercream cake decorated with cream cakes shaped flowers of various colors back into the current trend), cookies and of course various types of bakery and pastry products. Applications of butter can improve the functional properties of bakery products. Its flavor and rich aroma also tend to be preferred by consumers than margarine.


Codex Alimentarius. 2011. Milk & Milk Products. Second Edition. World Health Organization. Food and Agricultural Organization of The United Nations.

Codex Standard for Butter. CODEX STAN 279-1971. Formerly CODEX STAN A-1-1971. Revision 1999. Amendment 2003, 2006, 2010.

Surat Keputusan Kepala BPOM RI No. HK tanggal 9 Oktober 2006 tentang Kategori Pangan.

SNI MENTEGA. SNI nomor 01-3744– 1995.

Zulkarnain, MR. 2016. Parameter Mutu Butter. Kulinologi Indonesia, June 2016 edition.