Jul 19, 2012

Rise of a food villain: but is permeate as mild as milk?

You probably hadn’t heard of permeate a few months ago. And yet now it’s a food super villain. How did we get here, asks Georgie Moore?

You might not have heard of permeate a few months ago. It's become a food villain, shunned by consumers. So what drove the vilification and exile of the mysterious milk substance? After Fairfax revealed the product (a watery dairy byproduct) made up roughly 16% of milk, the media and public furore spawned a plethora of permeate-free milk products.

It's not the first time permeate has been in the spotlight -- Fairfax picked up on the issue in April 2008 -- so why the drastic action this time around?

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17 thoughts on “Rise of a food villain: but is permeate as mild as milk?

  1. Flat tyre

    Rather than permeate consumers should be more worried about products like rbGH

  2. paddy

    I think we should blame Firstdog for this appalling scandal.
    (I note he’s not at his desk today and is obviously in hiding until the storm blows over.)
    I mean really! Adding milk products to milk. It’s bloody unorstralian

  3. David Allen

    I’m surprised my arsenic free line of soft drinks didn’t get a mention.

  4. John Newton

    Not too sure that Rosemary Stanton – who I respect enormously – is right there. I understand that hormones were once used in Australian chickens, but haven’t been for at least forty years. There’s no need to – because antibiotics perform the same function as growth promotants and are far more dangerous when routinely fed to animals that humans eat, many believing that such a practice is linked to antibiotic resistance in humans.

  5. Bill Parker

    Paddy might right – First Dog is undoubtedly been sitting too close to some wind turbines.

  6. mattholden

    Er … why the cynicism? Why shouldn’t milk be permeate-free? Cows don’t lactate permeate, do they? They lactate, you know, fresh, pure healthful milk – the stuff the big dairy companies market in their ads. So that’s what they should sell. Not something bulked up with the byproduct of another process.

  7. mattholden

    What’s more, if Crikey had broken the permeate story and got this result, you’d be crowing, not carping.

  8. gikku

    If it says “Milk” on the bottle, milk is what it should contain, nothing less.

  9. Rosemary Stanton

    I totally agree with the comments about the use of antibiotics as growth promotants – a horrible practice, and a good reason to recommend those who eat chicken should choose organic products that do not add antibiotics to the food chain. But I think it was the incorrect assertions about hormones in chickens in Australia that allowed the industry to get away with the growth promotants and the use of hormone ear implants in feedlot beef cattle to be totally ignored.

    Australia and the US insist that hormones in beef production is not a problem, but the EU does not permit meat from hormone-implanted animals to be sold because they believe it has not been proven safe.

  10. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Once upon a time you could only buy milk or cream. When you take the cream out of whole milk you are left with “skim milk”. But when you market “Smart milk”, “Trim low fat milk”, “Lite milk” and a couple of others I can’t remember now, what are you getting? It’s something less than whole milk, it’s good for you because it is “low fat” or “boosted calcium” or “organic” so it is quite possible that it is just parts of whole milk with bits removed, all reconstituted (nothing non-milk added) to create a new ‘milk’ product that is less than the real thing but good for you. Oh and of course it is ‘processed’ food so there is GST added plus a whole lot more. This stuff only contains milk but it is not “whole” milk and we (happily apparently) pay through the nose for it. Are we suckers or are we getting exactly what we ask for?

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