Reality check on animal-free ‘milk’

A leading dairy chemist says some start-up companies say they are developing animal-free milk but he says they need a reality check.

Dr. John Lucey with the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Dairy Research tells Brownfield milk is complex, not merely a few components.

“Their kind of goal is to replicate, if they can, the milk proteins but do it in a lab or from a yeast or a bacteria and then say, well, this is done without the cow – so it’s animal-free or dairy-free. They are making one or more simple proteins or simple components. It is NOT something we’re seeing right now that I, as a dairy chemist, would even say is comparable to milk.”

He says nothing these startups are making contain all the nutrients and special structures and components of dairy milk, “It’s no more milk that just, for me, going to my lab, throwing a few ingredients into a beaker and stirring it around. I wouldn’t call that milk, either.”

Lucey says a better use of these start-up technologies would be to make cow’s milk more like the nutrition in breast milk that could be used to improve infant formulas.

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