A Successful Collaboration on Warm Whey

Volume 141, No.24, Friday, December 2, 2016

Imagine a world where regulators charged to protect public health and safety join with industry and academia to use the best available science and experience to craft effective, reasonable regulation.
Too utopian?

It’s happening in Wisconsin, with a collaborative research project between Center for Dairy Research (CDR), Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) and the food safety team at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WDATCP).

This is not to say that industry and regulators don’t continue to debate many aspects of regulation. But this year’s detailed study of the safety of warm cheese whey displays cooperation and shared food safety goals between industry and its regulators, and the teamwork and transparency in this collaboration has further strengthened a good working relationship.

During the past two years, WCMA, CDR and regulators at WDATCP have addressed the food safety aspects of cheese whey shipped warm to processors. A preliminary measure — a prescription from WDATCP to use 100 ppm hydrogen peroxide in whey to destroy any potential pathogens — allowed industry, CDR and the agency to construct a definitive whey research project in early 2016.

Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin joined a series of project planning meetings in the spring, and WDATCP, CDR and WCMA worked together on parameters to test the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide in whey, cheese starter cultures in whey and even whey without starter cultures in defeating the food pathogen of most concern: Staphylococcus aureus.

S. aureus itself does not cause illness, but if found in raw whey in very high concentration, it can produce a toxin that is heat stable and is not eliminated by further processing of whey.

Kathy Glass, Associate Director and Distinguished Scientist at Food Research Institute (FRI), took up the project and executed multiple research trials this summer and fall with funding from WCMA.

Throughout the project, FRI used fresh whey produced at Center for Dairy Research, just two blocks away. Researchers inoculated fresh, warm whey with S. aureus, then watched for growth in whey held at 90F and 70F. The whey at these temperatures was monitored in samples with no added hydrogen peroxide, 10 ppm hydrogen peroxide and 100 ppm hydrogen peroxide. The study even ran unique trials using cheese whey with mesophilic starter culture, thermophilic starter culture or no culture at all, mimicking some Hispanic cheese styles.

Preliminary results find that in 90F raw whey with starter culture, S. aureus dies off with no addition of hydrogen peroxide or with the addition of hydrogen peroxide. Initial speculation from researchers at CDR is that the beneficial dairy bacteria successfully outcompete this pathogen. In 70F whey with added starter cultures, S. aureus fails to grow and dies with addition of 100 ppm hydrogen peroxide.

Study results will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed food safety journals this winter. The most recent edition of Dairy Pipeline, published by CDR, includes a complete write-up on this warm whey research project. Visit www.cdr.wisc.edu/pipeline to view the issue.

In the end, these study results provide long-sought answers on the safety of fresh, warm whey. Both state and federal regulations can be revisited with published findings on the effectiveness of starter culture and low levels of hydrogen peroxide in defeating S. Aureus.

Good, defensible science is the common ground where the dairy industry, regulators and academia can meet to solve problems. WCMA looks forward to more cooperative efforts that assure the safety and wholesome of dairy products.

Or, as CDR concluded in its Pipeline article: “It is important to note that this work was only made possible by the collaboration of DATCP, WCMA, FRI and CDR. By working together these four groups were able to construct a study that would reflect real life conditions in the cheese/whey industry with the end goal of ensuring cost effective methods for producing a safe, high quality product.” JU

John Umhoefer has served as executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association since 1992. You can phone John at (608) 828-4550; Fax him at (608) 828-4551; or e-mail John Umhoefer at jumhoefer@wischeesemakers.org


Other John Umhoefer Columns

 Constructing Communication at UW-Madison

 The Making of a Champion
 Internet Coins a Cheese Mountain
 Our 125th Year! (Sort of)
 A Dangerous New Raw Milk Bill
 Wisconsin Makes Its Case Out West

 Dancing with the Devil in the Details
 Phosphorus’ Final Act
 20 Years of Change In One Bite
 The Whey Problem and California’s Solution
 The System Works - March 6, 2015
 100 Years of Success
 Thoughts for a Dairy Forum
 A Different Dairy Scene in 2015
 The Truth About Animal Care
 A Regulatory Hat Trick
 Flawed Security Program Bilks Wisconsin Dairy
 Leading Cheese Producers
 Success by the Numbers
 It’s Time for Training
 Exports Trump Farm Bill
 Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute’s 20-20 Vision
 Addressing Wastewater Head On
 Knowledge Opportunities Abound
 Say No to an Extreme Raw Milk Bill
 A Generation's Gift
 Government-Induced Uncertainty
 Decades Ahead on Food Safety
 Wisconsin’s Hot Winter
 A Successful Campaign for Babcock
 Ireland: Gearing Up For Growth
 Mired in Wash Water
 Less Government, More Dairy
An Interview With Jim Sartorii
The Other Solids Price Crush
 The Policy Answer Is Exports
 Rolling The Dice On Dairy Reforms
 Productive Changes In Wisconsin

 The Successful Idea Of DBIC
 Cheese Cuts Both Ways: Consolidation and Growth
 IDFA's Deep Dairy Reforms
 Wisconsin In The Spotlight
 An Overbuilt Foundation
 What the New Governor Means To Wisconsin
 No Man's Land
 Dairy & Wisconsin’s New Leadership
 Wisconsin Cheese Is Investing, Expanding
 Talking Competition
 Being Big Dairy
Upper Midwest Prospects in 2010
Upper Midwest Growth: Perspectives From The Farm
Blue Skies or Bust
Pushing Back Against A Tough 2009
Support Demand, Not Price
Dairy: A Good Bet in a Bad Economy
Wisconsin's Future: Growth
Keeping Sustainability Real
Nose Dive
Dairy Dives into 2009
 Consider This...
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Implement Make Allowances ASAP
Security Reforms
Spring Forward
A Week of Clarity

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