Greensboro, NC -- Greek yogurt. Toxic? Two things you would probably never put together. But look at this headline from the New York Post: "Greek Yogurt's Half-a-Supertanker per Year Toxic Waste Problem" This article and others say the popular health food could be unhealthy for the environment.
It's all about a byproduct in the manufacturing process -- acid whey - named for it's low PH level. If this natural byproduct ends up in streams and waterways, it can kill fish. Right now Chobani and other manufacturers send most of the acid whey to farms for animal feed.
But with sales soaring - up 50 percent from last year -- they have to keep looking for other options. 2 Wants To Know found the solution may be right here in North Carolina.
NC A&T Food Science Professor Salam Abraham is working on the problem. He says the acid whey is easier to handle when it's freeze dried and turned into powder. That complicated freezed dried process helps neutralize the PH level. And it actually contains a lot of protein and calcium. The research team turned the powder into an acid whey enhanced waffle. Despite the name, they said it was good.
"Think about it, you get more protein. Texture is more crispy and it has a rich flavor," Dr. Abraham said.
Yogurt companies say they are also working on other possible uses - one day it might power your lights.
Acid whey is only an issue with Greek yogurt because the Greek version is more sour and acidic---making the whey's PH level lower. Traditional yogurt, on the other hand, has a higher PH level which produces something called "sweet whey." And that is less problematic because it has a drastically different p-h level and is more neutral.