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Dairy Whey Closer to Mother’s Milk than Media-made Menace

May 31, 2013

Cornell University professor rebuts recent media reports that acid whey, a byproduct of yogurt production, presents a unique danger to human health or the environment.

Source: Cornell University news release

Andrew Novakovic is a professor in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, whose research focuses on the U.S. dairy industry. He comments on recent media reports that acid whey, a byproduct of yogurt production, presents a unique danger to human health or the environment.

Novakovic says:

"The suggestion that the production of acid whey is just a hair’s breadth away from creating an environmental catastrophe is astonishingly hyperbolic.

"The whey that comes from yogurt production, as well as cheese and cottage cheese production is, literally, acidic, but that shouldn’t bring to mind images of battery acid or industrial corrosives. The acidity of acid whey is comparable to that of a banana or tomato juice. In fact, acid whey measures from a 4.4 to 4.8 on the pH scale (the most common measure of acidity), while maple syrup comes in at 4.6.

"Currently, whey from strained yogurt production is primarily used for animal feed on nearby dairy farms because this is the most cost effective at present. However, researchers are working on finding other uses for it, including possibly being used as a base for infant formula. Yogurt whey is an unusually rich source of a protein that is characteristic of mother’s milk."

A new paper by Novakovic titled Program on Dairy Markets and Policy Information Letter: Acidity is not a Synonym for Toxicity is available for download at https://cornell.box.com/acidwhey.

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