29 May 2007
The Cow That Laid The Golden Lactose
by Kate Melville
A biotech company investigating milk composition across the entire herd of 4 million New Zealand cattle has identified some cows that produce skim milk naturally. Reporting on the discovery in the magazine Chemistry & Industry, New Zealand scientists say the cows have genes that give them a natural ability to produce skimmed milk. Plans are now ahoof to breed herds of the cows that produce the natural low-fat milk.
Ed Komorowski, technical director at Dairy UK, said the rogue milkers could udderly revolutionize the dairy industry, swinging consumer sentiment back in favor of whole milk. He envisions cows that still produce full-fat milk, but with only the good fats. "In future if whole milk can be made to contain unsaturated fats - which are good for you - then it might mean that people change back to whole milk products. The big thing about dairy products is taste, so this would be a way of giving the benefits of taste without the disadvantage of saturated fats," he explained.
Only 25 percent of all milk sales are whole milk, so the current method for producing skimmed milk generates large amounts of left-over fat. Natural skim milk would help overcome this problem of wastage. "If you can genetically produce milk without fat then that may turn out to be a very good solution to what might later be a big disposal issue," says Komorowski.
The researchers are busy identifying other unique milk characteristics in New Zealand's cattle and have moo-ted the possibility of making a butter that is spreadable straight from the fridge. They have already identified a cow with the genes required to do this and note that the cow's milk is also very low in saturated fats and so should be high in polyunsaturates and monounsaturated fats.
Source: Society of Chemical Industry