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April 2, 2020

Whey Production

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The United States of America is the world’s largest producer of dairy products, including whey. Nearly 950,000 million metric tonnes per year – over one-fourth of the world supply — is produced in some 200 plants across the country.

The nomenclature for the U.S. grade of is “U.S. Extra.” The U.S. grade of dry whey is determined on the basis of flavor, physical appearance, bacterial estimate, coliform count, milkfat content, moisture, and scorched particle content.

Whey contains essential amino acids, is easily digested and provides a Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) greater than 3.0. U.S. whey products are also rich in vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12.

Whey is not a single product. Rather, whey protein products can range in protein levels from less than12% to over 90% and mineral levels between1% and 28%. In addition, modified whey products with enhanced functional and nutritional characteristics are also widely available and typically customized for optimal performance for their purpose.

Two types of whey protein products are whey protein concentrates (WPC) and whey protein isolates (WPI). WPC have protein ranges from 34 percent to 80 percent and WPI contain greater than 90 percent protein. There is also dry sweet whey that contains between 11 and 14.5 percent protein; permeate or dairy products solid, that contains three to five percent protein, and reduced minerals whey that contains between 11 and 15 percent protein. These products also vary in their pH, their color and flavor, as well as lactose concentration, milkfat concentration, and ash concentration.

Whey is a byproduct of cheese manufacturing. Cheese culture is added to fresh pasteurized milk to make the milk casein curdle. The liquid that is left is whey. The whey is immediately cooled and then pasteurized or directly pasteurized for 15 seconds at 72 degrees centigrade (161.6 degrees Fahrenheit) Whey is further refined, dried and dehydrated to create products for consumption or food manufacturing.

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