New Codex standard for dairy permeate powder will help dairy industry

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

The Asian market is expected to open up to permate now that there are global standards for the product.
The Asian market is expected to open up to permate now that there are global standards for the product.

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The final approval of a Codex Alimentarius international standard for dairy permeate powder has been welcomed by permeate producer Arla Foods Ingredients.

The new science-based standard establishes global criteria for the composition, identity, quality and safety of powdered milk and whey permeates for the first time.

Arla Foods Ingredients said this expected to accelerate demand for permeate and open up new sales channels, particularly in Asia.

Raising ingredient profile

Charlotte Sørensen, senior project manager at Arla Foods Ingredients, said the new Codex standard will spark the permeate market into life, generating new sales opportunities for a valuable and affordable ingredient that has often been overlooked.

She said as permeate is still a relatively new product in the food industry, the standard will help raise its profile and build trust in the ingredient.

Expansion in Asia

Sørensen told DairyReporter whey permeate is already widely used in food applications in the EU and US. However, as there was no standard until the Codex announcement, China has not permitted its use.

“The new Codex standard will help to expand its use globally – particularly into Asia,” ​Sørensen said.

Use in products

Permeate is a by-product of whey manufacturing; a low-cost, carbohydrate ingredient often used as a bulk sweetener.

As such, permeate can replace other, more expensive milk solids in food products without altering the taste or texture, or requiring any changes to processing parameters. Used as an alternative to whey powder, demineralized whey powder and lactose, whey permeate can optimize product quality in a range of applications.

Sørensen, told DairyReporter permeate can be used in a variety of products.

She said it could be used in, “Chocolate, confectionery, ice cream, desserts, beverages and bakery products – and hopefully also new food applications like ready meals and affordable products for tackling malnutrition.”

In other parts of the world, permeate is already approved – but many companies have been reluctant to use it due to a lack of a global consensus on how it should be labeled.

Sørensen said for labeling, if the original raw material is whey then it can be listed as whey permeate powder, and if the raw material is milk then it can be listed as milk permeate powder.

Agreement on standard

At the Codex annual meeting in 2015, dairy companies agreed to develop a new standard for permeate within two years to address this and other technical issues, such as harmonization of product quality and consistency.

The standard, which was finalized and approved this month, comes into effect immediately.

Sørensen said the development will be welcomed by the whey industry because it will add more value to what is a major by-product of the whey protein manufacturing process.

“Dairy permeate powder is a high quality and cost-effective dairy ingredient and approval of the Codex standard will generate more interest from the global food industry.

“It will help to improve standards in general and eliminate unfair competition by making it difficult to sell cheap, low quality permeate that doesn’t meet the standard. It will benefit the entire dairy industry.”

IDF collaboration

The International Dairy Federation (IDF) collaborated with Codex Alimentarius in the development, identification, elaboration and dissemination of the new standard.

Claus Heggum, leader of the IDF Action Team working on the project, said, “Dairy permeate powders are new to the food market. There were no clear definitions available as a reference. This situation could jeopardize the true identity of these food ingredients and lead to unfair trade practices.

"In some countries, import restrictions have already been imposed. This new standard is necessary as a reference in trade."

IDF contributed by providing a compromise on compositional specifications, including identification of the relevant analytical methods, and by clarifying the technical justifications relating to processing aids and food additives.

“The anticipated increased demand in food and feed markets for whey permeate at regional and international levels will be a major challenge for the future. Regulatory frameworks need to evolve accordingly,”​ said Nico van Belzen, PhD, director general of IDF.

“This collaboration with Codex will amplify the global consumer health impact of both organizations by leveraging our mutual scientific resources to advance food safety, protect consumer interest and ensure fair practices in the food trade."

Investment in permeate

In recent years, Arla Foods Ingredients has invested in the manufacturing of food-grade permeate. The company has a permeate production facility in Denmark, which manufactures Kosher and Halal certified whey permeate – demand for which is now expected to increase.

It also has joint venture facilities in Argentina (with Sancor) and in Norway (with TINE).

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1 comment


Posted by Riina Annus,

Nice to read of regulation but where I can find full text of regulation?

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