Yak Milk in Your Cracker?
Milk and Cheese processing isn't what it used to be...
First there was low-temp pasteurization - now there's high-temperature ultra-pasteurization. Decades ago, before opaque cardboard cartons, milk was in clear glass bottles that easily revealed its layered cream content. Now, there is consistent homogenization and measured milkfat. Before homogenization, milkfat content was anywhere between 2 and 9 percent, depending on the cow and her environment. Nowadays whole milk is required to have a set 3.25 percent milkfat. Well, cows do not give milk at a set 3.25 percent milkfat. So, the first process today's milk bottlers take is to completely remove the cream from the milk and then add it back, as per the products specifications, i.e. 2% reduced fat milk. All that excess fat goes into the butter and ice cream machine. So, if your healthy Jersey cow is giving 5.5 percent fat milk, you have a lot of cream left over for butter.
In fresh milk, fat globules range in size from 1-10 microns. After homogenization, the range is reduced to 0.2-2 microns. This is done by forcing the milk at high pressure through small tapered tubes -- typically 2,000-3,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, although ultra-homogenization uses 14,500 psi or higher, which results in a longer shelf life. Pasteurization usually takes place before homogenization; but due to the heat generated during the homogenization process, a second pasteurization usually results. Although low temperature pasteurization kills less enzymes and nutrients, high heat means longer shelf life. Longer shelf life always seems to win.
Some powdered water buffalo milk in your cheese?
Even if we accept ultra-pasteurizated, ultra-homogenized, de-fatted, de-enzymed milk as wholesomely healthful, even if we do not know the exact processes or long term consequences thereof, there are some lesser known milk-derived products that have been entering the food market at a surprising rate and that we should take note of.
Ultrafiltering of milk separates milk components by molecular size. Skimmed milk, even without its fat, is left with an overburden of protein and lactose. These are filtered out by ultrafiltration. Here we are concerned with the protein concentrates. Three types of ultrafiltered (UF) milk derived protein products to be wary of are: milk protein products, MPCs, and casein products. A serious issue regarding milk protein concentrates (MPCs), is that due to their vague description, they can be comprised of any milk out there. As long as it is: “any complete milk protein (casein plus lactalbumin) concentrate that is 40 percent or more protein by weight,” anything goes. Yak, water buffalo, sheep, not that these are bad sources unto themselves, but if the MPCs are coming from antibiotic-filled, poorly treated water buffalo in Asia, we should have the right to know, and yet we do not. MPC's are not regulated. Even though MPCs’ are considered an additive, they do not appear on the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) requirement list, nor on the FDA list of additives. MPCs are classified as an industrial ingredient and are not approved for human consumption under FDA rules, although not prohibited. This is why Kraft “cheese food” was re-labelled as a “cheese product.” In the olden days, milk proteins were used to make glue and paint, so the industrial designation. But due to the wizardry of food scientists, MPCs have been entering our food supply as fillers in a big way. MPCs are in yogurts, processed cheese, frozen dairy desserts, crackers, energy bars, coffee creamers, snack foods, sports nutrition products and protein and calcium fortified beverages. Since the FDA is not monitoring them, let's hope the big food brands are! Although much of our MPCs are coming from New Zealand, 70 percent of the milk protein- casein is coming from China and Mexico.* A miniscule amount of imported MPCs and casein product is opened and analyzed. Remember the melamine in powdered milk in China?
If it is cheaper to import long lasting milk protein concentrate, why use the local fresh stuff? The U.S. dairy industry has been fighting for a decade to have tariffs and quotas placed on Milk Protein Concentrates, but they have yet to win. Dairy farmers feel the increasing use of powdered milk proteins is hurting the U.S. dairy industry.
MPC pounds imported 2010-2011. johnbuntingsjournal.com
Imports of MPCs into the U.S. have doubled in the last five years.*
Milk Protein Concentrates are unregulated, de-fatted, ultra-pasteurizated, ultrahomogenized, ultrafiltrated (UF) powdered milk. Many manufacturers are using MPCs in their dairy products instead of real milk. Why? Because MPCs are a cheap and easy way to add a stable protein and filler into a product. Although MPCs do add protein, it is in a very processed form. Are MPC's hurtful to the local food movement? Yes, as this dried, spoil resistant product takes less to transport than fresh liquid milk, companies are choosing this processed powder over fresh milk. Some food corporations think nothing of filling up a product with cheap protein powders as opposed to the more perishable fresh fluid milk. Some U.S. dairy farms produce the MPCs as well, but due to the flood of low priced imports and the reduced demand for fresh milk, small dairy farmers are hurting. In fact they are hurting badly, about 40% of all dairy farms (or 46,000) went out of business over the last 10 years in the U.S. due to falling milk prices and rising costs. Farmers went from getting $21.70 per hundred pounds of milk in 2007, to $11.30 in 2009, while animal feed costs increased 35% and fuel prices rose 30%.** Farmers get about $1 per gallon (often below their production costs) the supermarkets and distributors pocket the rest. In Britain and Europe situations are similar.
Although we would never consider feeding babies ultrafiltered, ultrapasteurized, ultrahomogenized, concentrated and powdered breast milk - a mother might hand her baby a well traveled MPC containing cracker, without thought. You might want to rethink that energy bar too.
Of other Interest:
Those thickened skim milks like Farmland Special Request Skim Plus have powdered skim milk in them to thicken them up.
In the old days you could sour milk and turn it into yogurt and curds without help - now you must buy the enzymes separately and add them back because they were killed during pasteurization.
The FDA uses a disk-assay test that only detects 2 of the 30 or so drugs found in milk! For a really interesting read on the questioned benefits of drinking other mammals milk before or after lactation - see Milk Danger by Robert M. Kradjian, MD www.worldfoodandhealthwatch.tribe.net
Todays big agra-cows give milk for but two or three years before being culled for meat. In olden days before growth hormones and such, they could be milked for a dozen plus years and live till twenty. "In the 1940s, a good milk cow produced about 4,500 pounds of milk per year. Today’s cows produce 20,000 pounds or more per year." www.motherearthnews.com The Astonishing story of Real-Milk
Dairy products are generally extremely high in fat; an 8 oz. serving of 2% milk contains more fat than two strips of bacon! Cheeses can be as much as 65% fat, and are usually very high in sodium. gerson.org
Casein -which makes up a large portion of cow's milk protein was used in the studies in the Oxford/Cornell China Project where the animals (and later, people) fed a 20% animal protein diet suffered from numerous diseases, especially cancer, and had shortened life expectancies. This protein in quantity is harmful to your health. www.thechinastudy.com
If you think you are buying local, take a closer look:
Dean Foods, one of the largest milk processors and distributors of milk and other dairy products in the world, with products sold under more than 50 local and regional brands and a wide array of private labels, controls one third of the fluid milk market in the U.S., including 80% of the organic milk market. A few of its products: Horizon Organic milk, Silk soymilk, International Delight coffee creamers, Rachel's Organic brand (UK), Borden, Garelick Farms, Dairy Fresh, Dean's, Melody Farms, Nature's Pride, Shenandoah's Pride, Marie's refrigerated dips and dressings; Land O'Lakes fluid dairy and cultured products; and Hershey's milks and milkshakes (the latter two under license from Land O'Lakes, Inc. and Hershey Foods Corporation).
*www.foodandwaterwatch.org Milk Protein Concentrates
www.themilkweed.com The Great American Cheese Scandal
www.motherearthnews.com The Astonishing story of Real-Milk
www.npr.org Independant Dairy Farmers Feel Squeezed
**www.huffingtonpost.com Dairy Farmers Ask FED to Fix a Broken System
Yak Photo: Peter Keiling www.flickr.com