New Zealand whey recall raises red flags

Separating dairy into curds and whey. Photo: Some rights reserved.

Separating dairy into curds and whey. Photo: Some rights reserved.

News broke late last week that New Zealand dairy giant, Fonterra, was issuing a food safety alert about whey protein concentrate (WPC) it produces. The company said there was a "potential presence" of Clostridium Botulinum, which can cause botulism. Fonterra is one of the world's largest producers of WPC, which is used in sports drinks, milk powder, and of most concern, infant formula. According to, the company first identified the issue way back in March.

TV New Zealand reports the possibly contaminated whey was actually sent to a school for "a science project", but no one reported illness.

We've reported several times about whey disposal issues, as a by-product of cheese and yogurt production. It's a particularly vexing problem for the Greek yogurt industry because that kind of whey is acidic.

But the whey does contain some protein, and researchers are trying to find a viable use for it, including in baby formula.

Fonterra's problems in New Zealand cast the potential uses in another, not so positive, light.



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