Speaking with DairyReporter.com, New York-based Greek yogurt manufacturer, Chobani, played down circulating claims about the potential environmental impact of 'acid whey', but promised to explore "the best ideas and options for beneficial whey use."
Dannon, which boasts the fastest growing Greek yogurt product portfolio in the US, issued a similar promise - vowing to "improve the usage of whey from a nutritional and environmental perspective."
‘Acid whey’ is toxic to the natural environment and has the potential to deplete water oxygen levels and kill fish.
Concerns about the potential environmental impact of ‘acid whey’ were fueled last week by an article published on the Modern Farmer website.
According to the article, Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side, US-based Greek yogurt manufacturers are “scrambling to figure out what to do with” the increasing amount of ‘acid whey’ being produced.
“No chemicals or acid added”
In a statement sent to DairyReporter.com, New York-based Chobani “committed” to finding responsible uses for ‘acid whey’.
“Right now, we choose to return whey to farmers, most of whom use it as a supplement to their livestock feed. Some is used as a land-applied fertilizer but only at farms that have nutrient management plans in place with the state environmental conservation agency. A small percentage is also sent to community digesters, where the whey is used to produce energy," said the statement.
“At Chobani, we are committed to being a good community partner. That includes finding responsible uses for whey, a natural by-product of the process to create authentic strained Greek yogurt. We are constantly exploring the best ideas and options for beneficial whey use,” the statement added.
In an additional statement posted on its website, Chobani attempted to play down the toxic connotations of the term ‘acid whey’.
“Whey, put simply, is just a natural by-product of making Greek yogurt,” said the statement. “It’s the milk minus the ingredients that are used to make yogurt.”
“While it is commonly referred to as ‘acid’ whey, the acid really just refers to the lower pH, occurring during the culturing process. No chemicals or acid added!”
No environmental concern if “managed appropriately”
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, senior director of public relations at Dannon, Michael Neuwirth, said that there should be no concern about ‘acid whey’ on an environmental level “if it is managed appropriately.”
“Since we stared making Greek yogurt we have disposed of the extracted whey in a sensible and responsible way via agricultural recycling in the form of animal feed and fertilizer when that is possible. We have also been exploring ways to further improve the usage of whey from a nutritional and environmental perspective,” he said.
General Mills, which manufactures Yoplait Greek products, and New York-based Fage USA were also approached in regards to their ‘acid whey’ disposal policies.
Neither was available to comment prior to publication.