Greek Yogurt’s Dirty Secret

Acid whey byproduct is dangerous to the environment
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2013 2:54 PM CDT
Greek Yogurt’s Dirty Secret
Greek yogurt Oikos Organic.   (PRNewsFoto/Stonyfield Farm)

Greek yogurt is low in calories, high in protein, and generally delicious. What's not to like? How about this: The production of Greek yogurt creates a nasty byproduct called "acid whey." The liquid waste can't be dumped, because it would prove too toxic to the environment, ruining waterways and killing fish, reports Modern Farmer. But with the Greek yogurt market now worth $2 billion and still growing, it's a problem that's only going to get larger. New York State alone produced 66 million gallons of acid whey in 2011, reports the New York Post.

Now yogurt companies and scientists are trying to find some productive—and preferably profitable—use for acid whey, says Modern Farmer. One scientist wants to extract the small amount of protein to use in infant formula. Other scientists believe they can extract the sugar to be used in other foodstuffs. And one farmer is converting the lactose into electricity-generating methane. "If we can figure out how to handle acid whey, we’ll become a hero," says a Greek yogurt manufacturer. (More Greek yogurt stories.)

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