Lab made milk and the company Perfect Day Foods (perfectdayfoods.com) just came across my radar a couple of weeks ago, and it got me very intrigued. Most of us by now have heard of Beyond Meat and lab made meat, so as a layman, it would seem that lab made milk should be possible too, right?
But I’m not a health expert, and certainly am not qualified to say with any authority whether lab made milk is safe and/or set to take over the dairy industry. That’s why I put out the following query:
After the media buzz about lab made meat and Beyond Meat, recently lab made milk is getting some attention. We’re researching lab made milk and especially the company Perfect Day Foods which just got $140M in funding and seems to be leading the lab made milk space. What do you think of lab made milk? Is it realistic, do you forsee health risks, are you optimistic or pessimistic about it? Any comments welcome.
So far I’ve gotten just 2 reputable comments from trustworthy sources, and am still researching this topic. If you can comment on this topic — and you have the credentials to back up your views — I would very much like to hear from you. Just make a submission here and I’ll add it to this article.
After seeing such success with faux meats like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, it is logical to assume that lab-made dairy will become just as popular. The main reason people turn to animal products alternatives is sustainability – realizing that our planet and its resources are finite and attempting to reduce the carbon foot print through decreasing consumption of animal products is a more sustainable way of living. Another reason would be animal welfare, ethical and compassionate treatment of living beings. As for health reasons - lab-made products are still very highly processed foods and therefore should not be considered health products. We still don’t know any long-term implications of regular consumption of those foods, limiting our understanding of any health impacts. People who choose not to consume dairy for health reasons do so due to dairy allergy, lactose intolerance and other potential risks associated with it (cancer (1), hormonal disbalance (2) , heart disease (3))*
*I can foresee lab-made dairy being manufactured for a particular market niche – those individuals who understand the need to reduce their dairy consumption due to the sustainability and ethical reasons, however finding it hard to turn down the taste and daily habits. Lab-made dairy products mimic the main components of dairy that make it taste the way it does – dairy proteins whey and casein, something plant-based milks and cheeses have not been able to achieve. I can also predict the dairy industry fighting back by funding research studies trying to prove synthetic milk being harmful or just as unsustainable in terms of production, as dairy. Despite some denial and animal food industries’ attempts to disprove the effects of animal agriculture on climate change, the world is beginning to connect the dots and shift towards more sustainable living, and as a climate change supporter myself, I attest that any movement towards decreasing the carbon food print and saving the planet, including production of lab-made dairy, is a step into the right direction.
1. Lu, Wei et al. “Dairy products intake and cancer mortality risk: a meta-analysis of 11 population-based cohort studies.” Nutrition journal vol. 15,1 91. 21 Oct. 2016, doi:10.1186/s12937-016-0210-9
--Tatiana Larionova, MS, LDN, CNS, eMediHealth
There’s a lot of uncharted territory in the field of lab-made milk.. While creation of this type of product is still underway, here are some possible pros and cons with lab-made milk: PROS: - A non-animal-based milk would give vegans another option to turn to. Currently, vegans can only turn to plant-based milks like almond, coconut and soy. Most plant-based milks do not offer the same protein profile as cow’s milk, with the exception of soy milk. Soy milk is a plant-based protein that most closely resembles cow’s milk. However, soy is one of the top 8 allergens, so a vegan with a soy allergy cannot turn to soy products for protein. - According to lab-made milk companies, their products are “nutritionally identical” to cow milk proteins. While I hope this is indeed true, these products are in the beginning stages and need to pass testing and labeling restrictions to make such claims. Also, companies like Perfect Day are not selling milk yet and still may be working with other companies to provide the protein ingredient in various food items. - Using less cows (or no cows) can help reduce the need for land, water and food needed for these animals. - According to Perfect Day, they have been working with the FDA since 2014 and their lab-made protein is considered a GRAS (“Generally Recognized As Safe”) ingredient. CONS: - In the age of “organic” and “non-GMO,” lab-made milk companies are presenting their synthetic product to a consumer group that has shown fear of genetically-modified and synthetic ingredients. While there are actually minimal differences between conventional and organic products, these companies need to be able to market their lab-made milk to appeal to health-conscious and lab-wary consumers. - No products are available yet from Perfect Day, so we can’t comment on the nutrition, taste, pricing, ingredients and marketing of Perfect Day products.
--Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, Fitter Living