June 25, 2012
Two major Australian milk processors will no longer add permeate to milk from July 1.
Permeate is a by-product of milk processing. Some processors add it to dilute protein levels which fluctuate seasonally.
Recently there has been concern extra permeate has been added to reduce the cost of milk while keeping it within required food standards.
Pura and Dairy Farmers are announcing today that from Sunday permeate will not be added to their milk products. A spokeswoman said this would simplify milk processing and provide milk as close as possible to the natural product.
She said that by not using permeate, the natural seasonal variations in protein would provide the purest quality milk.
Permeate-free labels would identify milk to which permeate had not been added.
Dairy Farmers' permeate-free milk will be sold in NSW and Queensland from Sunday. A spokeswoman could not indicate yesterday whether it would be sold in the ACT. A representative of Canberra Milk could not be contacted.
On April 17, The Canberra Times reported that in 2008 some NSW farmers accused the milk industry of adding up to 12 per cent permeate to milk to cut its production cost. Internal documents from Australia's biggest supplier, National Foods - which makes Pura, Big M, Dairy Farmers and supplies Woolworths and Coles brand milk - showed its milk had contained up to 16.43 per cent permeate. This saved about 16 per cent from the production cost but did not have to be disclosed.
The composition of milk is governed by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand food standards code. All developed countries have very similar standards.
The code allows manufacturers to add or withdraw milk components to standardise the composition of milk sourced from dairy farms, as required, to produce nutritionally consistent and safe products.
Under the code, the standard for packaged whole milk requires it to contain at least 3.2 per cent of fat and 3 per cent of protein. Graham Downie