One of the reasons for this high regard is that New Zealand dairies are held to some of the most stringent standards in the world. In New Zealand, the Dairy and Plant Products Group (a division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry-MAF) provides assurance to consumers, both domestic and international, that New Zealand’s dairy products are safe and true to label. And, the government mandates that all dairy products must be free of antibiotics, chemical residues and hormones (rBST is illegal in New Zealand). Grazing practices, the treatment of cattle, collection and storage methods, and processing all affect the quality of whey protein. When choosing a whey protein supplement, it is important to keep these points in mind.
Pasture fed cattle are exposed to a wide variety of soil-based pathogens, which means they will naturally develop more antibodies. Healthy green grass also provides Vitamins, Minerals, and beneficial enzymes (aiding in its assimilation). Intensively managed, year-round pastures in New Zealand furnish nearly 100% of herd feed requirements, so the cows need little or no supplemental grain. In New Zealand-style grazing systems, the animals are rotated frequently to fresh, small pastures and produce more milk per acre. A 1993 survey determined that greater than 40% of United States dairy heifer calves had serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) concentrations of less than 10 mg/ml. The Journal of Dairy Sciences reports, “U.S. society will soon demand that agriculture back off, at least to some extent, from confinement and pay greater attention to agricultural animal comfort and happiness.”
In New Zealand, dairy farmers use high-quality rye grass and white clover pasture virtually year round.
The use of antibiotics is illegal in the New Zealand dairy industry. The MAF requires a screening test for antibiotic residues, while in the US, antibiotic use is widely practiced on dairy farms. Most US dairy farms store antibiotics on the premises to treat cows that are about to give birth. The Dairy Science and Technology division of the University of Guelph reports, “the presence of antibiotic residues in milk products is very problematic for at least three reasons;
For these reasons, it is extremely important that milk from cows being treated with antibiotics is withheld from the milk supply.
While certain antibiotics can be extremely helpful in combating short-term bacterial infection, their long-term ingestion, even in small amounts can actually weaken human immune systems. Also, antibiotics destroy beneficial bacteria or probiotics in the human digestive tract which are critically important for overall digestive health, including the assimilation of food and micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
Dairy management systems in New Zealand prohibit the use of hormones. In the US, hormones like rbST (recombinant bovine somatotropin) are used to stimulate growth and milk production. Research shows that higher producing cows are more likely to have lower concentrations of IgG in their colostrum at calving.
The sale of milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is also approved in the US. Recent studies find that milk quality may actually be degraded somewhat as a result of the increased incidence of mastitis associated with the use of rBGH/rbST.
In several countries, milk quality is measured by somatic cell counts (SCC). SCC are significantly elevated in the milk of rBGH/rbST-treated cows. Milk with a high SCC tends to spoil faster than milk with lower SCC. Also, a decline in nutritional quality and protein content has been observed in the early stages of supplementation with rBGH/rbST. Dairy products coming from the US are also linked to allergies, constipation, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
In New Zealand, farmers may be fined up to $100,000 for infractions against regulations, including the presence of hormones, antibiotics or pesticides. According to the US Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, “No penalty is imposedon the producer or distributor upon the first violation of any of the sanitation requirements.” Additional infractions are considered misdemeanors and no fines are imposed.
Instead of using destructive chemicals, CFM uses filters to separate protein from undesirable fat, cholesterol and lactose, based on molecular size and shape. The low-temperature process isolates the native protein of whey at its biologically natural pH, carefully preserving its biological activity. Glycomacropeptide’s and other immune-boosting components remain intact. Whereas ion exchange keeps only some of whey’s biologically active components, CFM sustains a more complete protein profile-one of optimal balance, as found naturally in whey. There are no denatured proteins, a superior amino acid profile, and more calcium and less sodium.
The problem with Ion-exchange processing is that they are made by running concentrates through what is called an ion exchange column, which separates proteins based on their electrical charge, which then alters the pH of the whey. Hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide are the chemical reagents normally used to achieve this. The electrical charge on the proteins attaches them to resins in the reaction vessel. Obviously, these reagents damage pH-sensitive fractions and denature some amino acids. It becomes clear that we can say goodbye to glycomacropeptides, the immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, the growth factors, and a big percentage of the alpha-lactalbumin content. Cysteine and methionine will also be denatured (lost).
If some fractions have been eliminated or reduced, the resultant shift in the balance will mean that other fractions represent a higher percentage of the material. Beta-lactoglobulin, a reasonably stable fraction, can account for up to 75% of the fractions present in ion-exchange material.
Is there a problem with this? Yes, High amounts of beta-lactoglobulin can cause severe allergic reactions in humans. This fraction, not found in human milk, has even been responsible for the deaths of several individuals over the past ten years.
Another damaging factor with this type of processing is that it is known to form lysinoalanine, a bonded amino acid compound that results in losses of the following amino acids:
High amounts of lysinoalanine can be found in ion-exchange whey and may produce adverse effects on growth, protein digestibility, protein quality, and mineral bioavailability and digestibility.
Also ion-exchange strips out calcium and magnesium ions, and replaces them with sodium ions. The excess sodium throws the potassium levels out of balance. When that happens, the electrolytes go out of balance and the entire metabolism suffers.
So why did this material ever become popular? Heavy marketing from the dairy companies is the answer, but then you have to ask yourself why they developed it in the first place. Before ionexchange came along, Cross Flow Microfiltration was the only practical operation. However, a French patent on this process meant that all companies had to pay to use it. This expensive inconvenience led them to look for alternatives.
When the ion-exchange process was developed, it provided these companies with a lot more freedom. Even when micro-filtration came along, the ion-exchange process still remained popular, as the set-up cost is around one-fifth that of microfiltration.
So the development of ion-exchange whey had little to do with any benefit to the consumer. Long after several nutrition companies became aware of the disadvantages of ion-exchange whey, dairy companies kept on promoting it, as they sat on a mountain of this material.