Hidden Evironmental Dangers Of Greek Yogurt - Information and Suggestions

GREEK YOGURT
GREEK YOGURT | Source

Price and Production Issues

Greek yogurts have enjoyed increased popularity in the United States, especially in 2013. This is true despite the fact that a cup of Greek yogurt is twice as expensive as most like-sized cups of other styles of the dairy product in many consumer market areas. Moreover, the production of the newer style of yogurt is shown to produce an overabundance of acid whey waste matter that has caused extreme problems in places like Upstate New York.

Dairy Catastrophes

Justin Elliott in the Modern Farmer online tells us that farmers in Upstate New York are quite concerned about the effects that acid whey from Chobani yogurt company has on their farms. One dairy farmer reports that without fail, he receives a truck carrying 8,000 gallons of acid whey driven onto his farm twice a day 24/7/365. This is 112,000 gallons very week. Sources vary on quoted amounts, but for approximately every four ounces of milk processed, only one ounce of Greek yogurt can be produced. All the rest is acid whey, which is illegal to be dumped.

Dumping acid whey in ponds, lakes, and rivers is horrid, because its decomposition in the waters takes away oxygen. Cheese whey is very much like the acid whey in question and in my state, the Minerva Cheese Factory dumped cheese whey into Sandy Creek, depleted oxygen, and killed 5,400 fish needlessly in 2008. The cheese company corrected their disposal procedures and equipment and paid a fine of $6,067, while the few fish left in the dumpsite were aided by aerators (like larger versions of those used in aquariums) used by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Reference: Salem News). The fish were able to repopulate the portion of Sandy Creek in Minerva OH that had been harmed.

Manufacturers of all types of products must monitor their equipment and disposal processes on a routine basis to prevent enironmental mishaps and to prevent harming humans as well. The Minerva area catastrophe could have been averted. However, the Amish cheese manufacturer took quick corrective action. The company uses only local milk, from Amish dairy farmers.


Sandy Creek Dumping In Ohio Was Remedied

show route and directions
A markerSandy Creek, Minerva OH -
Sandy Creek, Brown, OH, USA
[get directions]

B markerMinerva Cheese Factory, 430 Radloff Ave, Minerva, OH 44657 -
430 Radloff Avenue, Minerva, OH 44657, USA
[get directions]

New York Greek Yogurt Triples

The production of the increasingly popular Greek yogurt, which many people say is more like cream cheese than yogurt, has tripled in the State of New York between 2007 and 2013. In fact, the New York Times has reported that it is now a $2,000,000,000 industry in the USA (reference: here) and about a third of all yogurt sales here,but increasing.

The Times warns readers that some manufacturers go beyond the usual milk-and-active-cultures ingredients to add things to quicken the production process - like protein powder and gums. However, good quality product can be used in savory or sweet dishes or by itself as a snack, in alcoholic drinks, and in other concoctions.

The large amounts of acid whey produced yearly must be handled properly without hurting the environment, animals, or humans, if the yogurt is to continue to succeed in American market areas. Acid whey is a toxic waste product.

Whey Not

How can we dispose of acid whey and even make a profit from it?

The farmer mentioned at the head of this Hub mixes it with other materials and feeds it to his cows. That makes me cringe as much as when I hear that chickens eat chopped waste chicken parts on some poutry farms in Ohio. When I mention it, soneone always makes a Solyent Green joke.

The New York farmer above uses some of the acid whey as fertilizer - how much is likely controlled by government regulations - and he uses some to produce biogas (methane) for electricity. If we can convert more of it to biogas for electricity, I think that is the solution. However, it smells bad and neighbors of the farmers making the biogas fron the yogurt whey complain. In fact, I had one patient that suffered brain damage from inhaling constant methane produced by his pig farming neighbor, so a health factor may even by in play.

How acid is the acid whey? - Elliott says it is as acidic as orange juice (average 3.5 pH) and that's substantially acidic. Its main ingredient is sugar and the whey upsets the cows' stomachs.

Now scientists feel that human babies can consume acid whey, or at least the miniscule amount of protein in it. Should they? Other suggestions are to make it into bodybuilders' whey supplements and to use it in baking bread and in other cooking techniques.

Popular Brands and Ingredients

Ingredients from the packages and websites of some of the leading Greek brands. Many sources agree that real Greek yogurt contains only milk and live/active cultures.

Chobani (real Greek yogurt):

  • Whole Milk and "live and active" cultures.
  • Result - 13 to 18g protein to a 6-oz. cup.
  • Note: Website reports no artificial thickeners in use. Does not use milk from cows treated with synthetic growth hormones.

Yoplait (General Mills):

  • Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Nonfat Milk
  • Milk protein concentrate - usually not from cows.
  • White sugar
  • Kosher gelatin (from beef hooves) - a thickener that may contain MSG!
  • Pectin (thickener often used in jams and jellies)
  • Lemon juice concentrate
  • Natural flavor
  • Locust bean gum - a thickener. This is what gets gummy in some ice creams as they sit in the freezer!
  • Vitamin A Acetate
  • Vitamin D3

Fage (real Greek yogurt) (New York):

  • Grade A Pasteurized Milk (Whole, 2% or 0% fat) and Cream
  • Live and active yogurt cultures: L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, and L. Casei.

Oikos Brand Ingredients

Notice the large number of ingredients.
Notice the large number of ingredients. | Source

Lawsuit

General Mills company was sued in 2012 over allegations that its Yoplait brand Greek yogurt was an imitation -- Reference here. A class action suit seemed imminent.

Quote:

Consumers were harmed because they were paying a premium for General Mills Greek yogurt compared with regular yogurt, the plaintiffs argue. Greek yogurt usually costs about 75 cents more per 6-ounce container than traditional yogurt.


General Mills suggested that consumers look for Yoplait Greek 100 strained yogurt in the future. However, it contains sucralose (Splenda®), to which some people are deathly allergic.

A district judge referred the case to the FDA in December 2012.

Ingredients (still doesn't look like real Greek yogurt):

  • Cultured Pasturized Grade A Nonfat Milk
  • Water
  • White Sugar
  • Corn starch - a thickener.
  • Natural flavor
  • Lemon juice concentrate
  • Sucralose - many people are allergic to this.
  • Acesulfame Potassium - am artificial sweetener.
  • Vitamin A Acetate
  • Vitamin D3

NOTE: Good Kosher Gelatin and Yoplait

One of the few sources for good Kosher gelatin thickener that is made form grass fed cows in the Great Lakes Gelatin Company in Illinois. It is known if Yoplait uses this brand.

Contact Information:

Great Lakes Gelatin Company, 253 Commerce Drive, PO Box 917 Grayslake IL 60030

Phone: 847-223-8141

The company's official Kosher Certificate is on file at the company website, greatlakesgelatin.com. The corporation also lists that they have Type A gelatin from pigskin (non-kosher) and Type B gelatin from cowhides. In addition, the company reports using no allergins.

Half full or half empty, the glass contains acid.
Half full or half empty, the glass contains acid. | Source

Other Suggestions From Farmers

One pig farmer from Vermont suggests that pigs be fed yogurt, acid whey and grass/hay from pastures. He says he buys no other pig feed. That might be a good solution.

On various discussion boards, long arguments exist and are ongoing about what to do with whey, not any of the suggestions very useful. However, one Hawaiian farmer mixes acid whey with other ingredients and creates a Black Soldier Fly colony of some sort that eats the whey and other wastes. Then he feeds fly larvae to his chickens as high-protein feed.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Do they like yogurt and acid whey?Cows can eat some acid whey.Fish do not like whey!Chickens prefer Black Fly Larvae.Maybe.Not safe enough yet for baby.
Do they like yogurt and acid whey?
Do they like yogurt and acid whey? | Source
Cows can eat some acid whey.
Cows can eat some acid whey. | Source
Fish do not like whey!
Fish do not like whey! | Source
Chickens prefer Black Fly Larvae.
Chickens prefer Black Fly Larvae. | Source
Maybe.
Maybe. | Source
Not safe enough yet for baby.
Not safe enough yet for baby. | Source

Hedging the Question

Chobani representatives told the Daily Reporter that their Greek yogurt whey is not harmful, because it just has a low pH and is not really acid, as in chemically added (but acidity is a chemical property and acid is already in the whey) -- What is acid if not a low pH?

General Mills makes Yoplait Greek style product and had no comment. Fage yogurt company in New York had no comment.

I keep thinking about those 5,400 dead fish and the cows with the upset stomachs - and the babies that might be fed acid whey and possibly become ill. I have to pass on the Greek yogurt, as good as it sounds.

More by this Author


Comments 25 comments

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 3 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Thanks for this information! As mentioned in Facebook, I am going to pass Greek Yogurt as my stomach is sensitive.


missolive profile image

missolive 3 years ago from Texas

Hi Patty, very interesting info here. The downside of industry is not a pretty place. You've given me some things to think about. Thank you for sharing this.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

VioletSen and missolive - I was just to the point where I was going to try some, having been put off by the price before. I am going to wait until something more is done about the acid whey and then I'll gt some - it sounds delicious.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Patty, thanks for this information. I was one of those who felt like Greek Yogurt was full of health. Thank God, I can't afford it here. There's much for meat eaters to think about too. Voted Up and Useful!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Thanks, MsDora! I suppose we could make our own yogurt and drain it though cheesecloth overnight to get the same end product.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I don't like Greek Yogurt. I'm glad I don't now. Everyone was saying how healthy it was I thought I was mistaken in not eating it. Interesting hub voted up.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

That's interesting. Maybe I really would not like it either! Thanks for your opinion about it - I may never try it.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

I was never that fond of Greek yogurt, Patty, and now I know why. But I don't particularly favor acid whey being fed to chickens and pigs. Using it to produce methane seems to make more sense.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Hmm, here I thought the stuff was the most popular thing in dairy case. I was definitely wrong about that; it seems many people do not like it.

I like the elctricity producing angle, too.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Thanks so much, Patty, for such an eye-opener here! Wow, and reading this made my stomach turn.

Very insightful hub here and good warning to heed.

Blessings, Faith Reaper


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

Interesting info, especially because Greek yoghurt is all the rage among the so-called elite who promote conservation/save the earth concepts (for others) even as they profit from mass produced products without regard for side effects.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Patty thanks for this interesting and valuable information. I was going to try this Greek Yogurt but after reading this may not, or wait a while before i do.

Vote up and more !!! Sharing !


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 3 years ago from United States

I don't have a comment on the ethics of whey disposal, as it is practically always a harmful thing to dump too much of something in one place - even too much water creates problems. What I do know is that chickens, goats and other animals like drinking whey free-choice, and it doesn't seem to harm them. Even my children and dog like it in small quantities, tho I think it's too sour, with a bitter undertone.

I make goat cheeses, yogurt, and other products from goats milk, once a week for several weeks out of the year. Milk typically has about 1 gallon of solids to 4 of liquid (whey). As I process 8-10 gallons of milk in an average week (strictly for home use), I dump at least 5 gallons of whey. (Some is lost during draining of soft cheeses.) What I give to the animals is always drunk within 24 hours, split among 7-10 goats and a small flock of free-range chickens. I also keep some whey in the freezer for lacto-fermenting vegetables, soaking grains and legumes, and other cooking purposes.

If whey can be used for industrial purposes, that's of course great. I just mean to point out that in moderation it's OK health-wise, and can be a good thing, used in context.

On a personal note, Greek yogurt can be either great or disgusting, depending on the brand. Some processing methods leave it chalky, some delicious and smooth.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

Thanks for this very informative hub. There is a lot of concentrated nutrition in Greek yoghurt that is very healthy for some people, but it is good to know the environmental cost. I hope that companies quit lying, dodging the issue, and hiding their head in the sand, but that seems unlikely. Extracting the whey from the acid to make whey supplements makes sense. Chemical or biological transformation - such as into healthy animal feed or methane makes sense. Methane production without leaks is not difficult, for those who care, and then it can be used to produce energy - though that does release CO2 into the atmosphere.

Most importantly, though, is that we've created a new industrial waste from food production, and no one who is doing it and no one with responsibility over them is likely to care enough to address the issue. I hope that changes.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Thank you for all the wonderful new comments and ideas from personal experiences!

Everyone -I am a bit worred about the industrial run off, especially in Ohio, since we have a history of it.

Joy At Home - I would not know where to begin with a farm or raising these animals, so your information is highly informative.

SidKemp - A new way to pollute industrially, that's exactly what it is. I hope something changes as well.


DigbyAdams 3 years ago

Thank you for this very useful hub. I've been leery of commercially produced Greek Yogurt for quite some time. Usually it's thicker because thickening agents have been added, not because it's been made properly. I'm horrified at the way that it's byproducts are being disposed. I'm not sure that I want to eat the meat from some of these animals being fed large amounts of acidic whey.

For the past few years, I've only eaten organic dairy products made at small local dairies. Thankfully they make yogurt as well.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Hi DigbyAdams - I'm reading food lables more than ever now, and putting a lot of stuff back on the shelves. Famres say the whey they yse for fertilizers is pretty smelly as well.


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 3 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

I 'm not sure if all so - called "GREEK" yogurt is made from goat's milk or not.I have tried it once just because it is thicker and has more protein that yogurt made from cows milk.All the other yogurts I know about are made from cows milk.

I have been making my own yogurt at home lately.

It's not very difficult really.I mixed a quart of a good organic yogurt with at least six active strains of probiotic bacteria in it with a gallon of half percent milk in a six quart stainless steel bowl and whisk it briskly with about a third of a gallon of the milk and continue doing that until the whole gallon is mixed.It,gets very frothy because of the air mixing with the protein in the milk.Then I use a funnel to pour the mixture into one quart glass jars leaving space at the top of each jar and put covers over the jars.I get about six quart jars of the mixture.

Then I place three of the jars into a six quart pot with bamboo sticks around the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from touching the bottom of the pot to prevent overheating them.

I pour hot water from the sink into the pot while the jars are in them up to almost the brim of the pot.Place the pot on an electric stove top or into a preheated electric oven at no more than 120 degrees to start the fermentation process.When the water in the pot reaches 120 degrees I lower the temp to about 85 or 90 degrees.It takes about 12 hours to turn into yogurt. The pot can be covered to prevent evaporation but the jars should be covered loosely to allow air or fermentation gases to flow into and out of the jar during fermentation.

The amount of yogurt varies depending on how much protein is in the milk you start with. I get between two quarts to two and one half quarts of yogurt from one gallon of half percent milk.

This type of yogurt has no fillers or any thickeners other than what you would put into it yourself.So, the texture is quite different than the yogurt people usually buy at the store.

As,for the whey.I refridgerate it and use it to make oatmeal.I figure waste not want not.Right!

If there is money to be made with the whey some enterprising person would find it and use it to their advantage.

Just like J.D. Rockerfeller did when he discovered that the gasoline he had been throwing into the Chicago river for years because he didn't have a use for it at the time decided to pay a babtist womans temperance movement to get congress to prohibit the production of alcohol for any reason with the exception of medical purposes. Ten years later most cars then ran on gasoline instead of ethanol that Henry Ford has originally intended to have all his cars run on.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 3 years ago

This was a very enlightening article. I enjoy Greek yogurt, and had no idea about any of the negative aspects of this food product. Thank you for putting this info together. It really is a matter of buyer be ware. I appreciate the education. Thanks so much.


easylearningweb profile image

easylearningweb 3 years ago

Commercials and advertising make people think that Greek yogurt is so healthy and so great, but little did we know about the waste products. I don't really care for yogurt much including Greek yogurt and I happened to be lactose intolerant. I hope they figure out what to do with their whey waste! Thanks for informing us of this information.


MJennifer profile image

MJennifer 3 years ago from Arizona

What an interesting hub, Patty. I am ... I confess ... a huge fan of Greek yogurt (unsweetened and full fat -- it's one of my few dietary vices). I had no idea that the industry produced an acidic waste -- shame on me, as I take our food sources and industry quite seriously. Thanks for enlightening me in such a well-written, neatly presented manner.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Thanks Patti for the great well-written information. I read labels and am concerned about all the issues about what we put into our bodies. I have tasted Greek yogurt, but it is a little too thick for my taste. I had no idea of the waste and resulting problems. You are so filled with information that it is unbelievable. I am pleased to find people who read labels and look into issues like I do. My neighbors think I go too far. We know different. Thanks for sharing this information.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

It's a great bunch of comments you all have left here!

I would like to try Greek yogurt, but I won't until the toic waste problem begin to be handled. When I have time, I will purchase a very large plain yogurt and drain it over cheese cloth over a bowl in the refrigerator and see how thick it gets. Did this with sour cream and it's pretty tasty.


lenamaewrites 3 years ago from Winchester, KY

Good thing I don't even like the taste of Greek yogurt anyway, huh? At least I'm not buying and contributing to the problem.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

I hope that producers come up with an easy way to dispose of the increasing amounts of acidic waste that is a byproduct of Greek yogurt. If a useful product could be made from it, all the better.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working