Whey is a byproduct obtained during milk coagulation by means of acid, rennet enzyme, or physiochemical processes used in cheese production. Whey embraces approximately half of solid ingredients of milk including nutrients like lactose, protein, and minerals. During recent years, whey application has emerged as a necessity considering the need for loweing environmental contaminations and utilization of accessible nutrients for feeding human population suffering from malnutrition. Presence of significant nutritional compositions with tremendous practical properties leads to rising use of whey in different aspects. The present paper analyzes application of whey as a basis for production of different drinks.


Key Words: Whey, Drink, Nutritional Value


Whey is a greenish yellow liquid which is separated from milk clot following milk coagulation by proteolytic acid or enzyme during dewatering stage and contains between 60-90% of milk constituents depending on production procedure. In cheese production from milk, considerable amount of whey is acquired, often discharged into wastewaters. The issue of whey consumption in milk industry and dairy products is greatly significant. Whey possesses high nutritional value and has been in use since medieval times as medicine in treatment of many chronic diseases. Currently, in the light of establishment and development of cheese production factories in the country, millions of tons of whey are produced annually. These byproducts are not utilized and enter the environment resulting in contamination (Pin, 1943).

Compositions of Whey:

According the definition of International Milk Federation, cheese water contains lipid-soluble matters like vitamins, casein-associated colloid minerals and also aqueous phase of milk including lactose, soluble proteins, soluble minerals, organic acids, vitamins, and enzymes. Whey has high biological value and contains large amount of amino acid cysteine, known as a valuable and high-quality food for human consumption (Pin, 1943).

Whey Environmental Issues

BOD of whey is around 50,000 ppm which is regarded as a highly polluted wastewater. Therefore, its disposal without biological purification or recycling of its organic matters would contaminate the environment. If whey is distributed over agriculture soil, its salts will prevent from growth of plants. Chemical and biological operations aimed at utilizing these byproducts or purifying them requires great deal of expenses. And in many countries, the high price of cheese is due to treatment or elimination costs of whey (Mayorla & Castillo, 1984).

Based on the abovementioned discussions, not only products having nutritional and medicinal values can be produced with application of whey in drink production but also the resulting contaminations can be to a great extent reduced.

Production of Fruit-flavored Beverage from Whey:

The most inexpensive way to prepare a beverage based on whey is collection of whey from cheese-making vat, pasteurization, alleviation of bad smell if demanded, adding flavor, and packing (Matour & Shahani, 1979). Graph (1898) designed a simple process in which cheese is heated, aerated and filled with CO2 and formaldehyde.

Julies et al. (1913) described a healthy and nutritious beverage from whey. Whey is decolored and deodorized by charcoal. And in the subsequent stage, acid, salt, and CO2 are added for production of final beverage. He realized that flavor of whey especially acidic cheese is more compatible citrus flavors, in particular orange juice.

Later, Kastovaskaia (1969) prepared a product called “Detskii” via adding pasteurized sugar juice and carrot juice to deproteinized whey. The product is then pasteurized and packed. Its total solid matter was at least 20%, sugar content was 15%, and maximal acidity was 28.125 Dornic degrees.

Kosmina (1966) produced two beverages with different flavors of whey; the first one a compound with lemon flavor and orange, and the other one containing 25% tomato juice, salt, and citric acid. Both compounds are largely acidized and had 0.3 weight percent carbon dioxide and were able to preserve for 5-7 days at 20 ̊C.

With progress in whey beverage production industry, 25-40% of whey was mixed with grape juice and 7-20% of fruit juices in the University of Arizona. A combination of whey, grape and peach juice received an average score of 5.9 at a Hedonic scale between 1 and 7 (Holsinger et al. 1974).

The product assessed in the University of Michigan State was considered as a breakfast meal, a combination of sweet or acidic whey and orange juice. A volume of fresh concentrated orange juice was mixed and packed with four volumes of deodorized cheese. The final product contained 0.7-1 % of protein. The beverage could be also gaseous and used as a sweet nutritious drink (Holsinger et al. 19740).

Following success of non-alcoholic drinks such as Rivella (a whey product) in Europe, some attempts started in USA for producing beverages with fruit flavor, as well as carbonated, alcoholic, and high-protein drinks. Carbonated beverage with orange flavor was produced in 1971 and distributed in Brazilian stores. This product contains 1.5% whey protein derived from whey via inverse osmosis. Whey can be used in the production of beverage with fruit flavor when it is not coagulated at high acidity (Matour & Shahani, 1979).

To produce newer flavors, beverages containing 60-90% of whey and 10% of raspberry porridge with 20% of natural peach porridge received an acceptable score from the examiners. The highest score was given to acidic whey beverage with orange juice flavor acidized by citric acid (Holsinger et al., 1974).

In 1974, a cheddar whey based beverage was formulated in Mississippi State University. This product was prepared by blending whey, sugar, orange concentrate, citric acid, and other additives for producing a product with pH = 3.8 and dry matter of 16.5% in the final beverage and persistence period of minimum 15 days at 5, 10, or 22 ̊ C. 956 consumers from all age groups tested the beverage; 76.5% described the beverage as acceptable (Holsinger et al. 1974).

Subsequently, Holsinger et al. (1974) analyzed a new beverage based on whey designated “freshi”. The respective product contained more than 50% of pure whey. Sugar, water, natural orange juice, lemon, and grape juices were added as well. Whey mixture was heated at 90 ̊C and packed under aseptic conditions in 250 ml tetra packs. Preservation period was determined to be 6 months without refrigerating.

Whey powder replaced whey by the course of time. Kasi Kouski (1987) demonstrated that an acceptable beverage can be obtained with combination of more than 6 percent of acidic whey in restored frozen orange juice. Acidic whey powder with a 6% content has a completely noticeable salty taste. When its amount is decreased to 4%, the evaluators described the product’s taste as excellent. The mixture was packed and frozen at -25 ̊C. After one month of preservation, the restored beverage had the freshness properties of the original product. At 6% concentration of whey, the color of the respective nutritious beverages was acceptable. Color variation was very little or didn’t exist in the beverages derived from orange, lemon, pineapple, and grape juices at 4% level of whey powder. At around 6% of whey powder, the beverages derived had a crimson-purple color in comparison with dark red color of restored grape juice concentrate. The beverage acquired from orange juice was lowly sweet.

Kasi Kouski (1987) in another study figured out that the outlet whey from vat shall be skimmed in order to protect kaymak formation and then pasteurized in order to prevent from formation of additional lactic acid and growth of contaminant microorganisms. In the present research, a commercial powder was also designed to be normally used as a restored beverage and had a good taste and consisted of the following components: sugar, whey with lowered contents of lactose and minerals, citric acid, monobasic acid, phosphate, lecithin, dextrin, sodium chloride, vitamin C, synthetic flavors and suitable vitamins. Acidic whey powder is very compatible with an acidic beverage and the combination of demineralized acidic whey powder with fruit juice might probably cause problems.

Matour and Shahani (1979) conducted researches in which the whey lactose added to foods acted as a flavor and color carrier and enhancer of oral perception. Solid whey powder together with slight amounts of gelatin acts as a new compound that can retain oil, lipid, and flavor two times of its own weight. These properties can be specifically used in non-watery products.

Ravest (2003) analyzed the compositions of whey and their usages. In his analyses, he realized that application of whey in other products leads to improvement of their nutritional values. The simplest way in applying whey is pasteurization and combination of whey with fruit juices like mango, blood orange, and so on. To prevent from precipitation of proteins, pectins and other surface active compounds were applied. Sugar and other synthetic sweeteners were also used. This product was sold as a healthy, low-fat, vitalizing, and energetic beverage in Europe at a price even higher than milk.

In analysis of whey properties as a byproduct of cheese production, Buckler et al. (2005) introduced sensitivity of whey to heat as a fundamental property of whey proteins in whey process industry and beverage preparation from whey. The respective protein is denatured during thermal process depending on the intensity of the heat and protein coagulation develops in the production of heat-treated beverage. Pectin leaves a positive effect on thermal resistance of whey proteins.

Mohebbi and Najafi (2004) investigated optimization of production, persistence, and quality of fruit-flavored whey beverages in which 27 beverage varieties were prepared using three concentrate types (orange, cherry, and grape) at three levels (3, 4, and 5%) and 3 sugar concentrations (5, 10, and 15%). Based on the results of the respective research, the optimal conditions in production of orange-flavored whey beverage was achieved using 3% of orange concentrate, 10% sugar, and with persistence time of at least 3 months at refrigerator temperature and 6 weeks at ambient temperature with acceptable sensory and microbial quality.

Abdolmaleki et al. (2004) analyzed the possibility of benefiting from whey in beverage production via its fermentation by means of kefir microflora, where different proportions of microbial culture broth were used. The results of the respective research indicated that mint essence is the best one with regard to color, flavor, and odor. And the samples resulting from inoculation of lactic and acetobacter bacteria (3%) and yeasts (2%) were chosen as desirable products in terms of quality and public satisfaction.


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