Brief History of Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC and Ultra-filtered Milk
Following the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) imports increased dramatically because they were not subject to tariff rate quotas since they were imported for industrial purposes such as glue and adhesives. Several dairy co-ops, including Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), began importing MPC which they used in dairy product manufacturing. Kraft boldly used MPC in Velveeta and Kraft Singles without GRAS status.
Domestic Production of Ultra-filtered Milk began in the 1990’s.
April 17, 1997, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its proposed rule on substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), which allowed a manufacturer to “market a substance that the manufacturer determines is GRAS without informing the agency (FDA), or if the agency is so informed, while the agency is reviewing that information.”
February 10, 2000, National Cheese Institute (NCI) filed a “Citizens Petition” to allow Ultra-Filtered Milk to be used in standardized cheese and simply be labeled as milk or non-fat milk. FDA did not act in favor of this petition. Several other petitions and requests for GRAS have been filed since then.
Domestic production of MPC began in the early 2000’s.
March 6, 2001, General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report on Ultra-filtered Milk. The report cites MPC imports increased from 805 metric tons in 1990 to 44,878 metric tons in 1999. MPC was blamed for declining farm milk prices. FDA was also cited for “withholding enforcement.” FDA objected to this wording and it was replaced with “exercising enforcement discretion.”
December 18, 2002, FDA sent a warning letter to Kraft Foods North America Inc., charging them with violations of the Code of Federal Regulations for Standardized Cheese. Kraft changed the label from “Pasteurized Processed Cheese Food” to “Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product” and continued to use MPC.
April 12, 2005, USDA published Proposed Rules to change the definition for Class I milk.
On January 1, 2011, new rules went into effect for “fluid milk product”, which applies to any milk product, fluid or frozen, containing 6.5% or more of non-fat milk solids or 2.25% or more of true milk protein. The rule also determines how milk-derived ingredients will be priced under all Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMO) when they are used in products meeting the definition.
February 19, 2016, Leprino Foods sent a notice of GRAS to FDA for two MPC products.
September 20, 2017, Tamarack Biotics announced self-affirmed GRAS status for TruActive MPC 85.
August 11, 2017, FDA announced “enforcement discretion” for Ultra-filtered Milk in Standardized Cheeses and further stated “we do not intend to take action against companies that manufacture standardized cheeses and related cheese products that contain fluid ultra-filtered milk or fluid ultra-filtered non-fat milk without declaring them in the ingredient statement, as long as their labels declare milk or non-fat milk in the ingredient statement.”
Even though statistics are readily available for U.S. production of milk, butter, cheese, non-fat dry milk, etc., the total volume of domestically produced MPC, Ultra-filtered Milk, and other milk protein products, is viewed as proprietary information and is not publicly available.
After more than 20 years of the use of Ultra-filtered Milk and MPC and numerous requests for GRAS status, FDA has not officially granted GRAS status to MPC or Ultra-filtered Milk. It seems that there must be a reason for this. Even so, politicians and dairy industry leaders are damning Canada for not taking our MPC or Ultra-filtered Milk and blaming them for our low milk prices.
Prepared by Gerald Carlin, Chairman of Policy Development, Farm Women United
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Milk Protein Concentrate Facts
What is Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC)?
MPC is Ultra-filtered skim milk that goes through a number of membranes and pipes. The protein molecules are the largest so they are retained. MPC can be in either a sludge form (ultra-filtered milk) or a dry powder (MPC).
What are the concerns with MPC?
The health concern with MPC lies in the process which may damage or alter milk proteins. It is unknown whether the human body can utilize the proteins after they have gone through the ultra-filtration process in the same way that the human body can utilize normal milk proteins. The “dairy industry” has taken milk, a natural product, and turned it into industrial components. The long term health effects are not known.
Who uses MPC?
MPC is used in the making of some forms of cheese. It takes 100 pounds or 11 2/3 gallons of milk to make 10 pounds of natural cheese. When cheesemakers add MPC and other additives to the cheese vat, they get a yield of 14 to 18 pounds of inferior cheese.
The “dairy industry” has figured out a way to extend cheese yields by making cheese that retains more water. This process creates a false surplus which results in lower farm milk prices paid to dairy farmers and greater profits for the non-farm sectors of the “dairy industry.”
The “industry” does not want the consumer or the farmer to know how much MPC is being used.
Where does MPC come from?
MPC is both imported and produced in the United States. No statistics are available on how much MPC is produced in this country since it falls under the same classification as other milk powders including the traditional non-fat dry milk. It is also unclear whether all users of MPC are listing it on the ingredient label.
How does MPC use relate to declining fluid milk sales?
Fluid milk consumption has declined for two main reasons: 1) the promotion of plant based drinks that are labeled as milk and are being falsely portrayed as being healthier. 2) The Federal Dietary Guidelines encourage the consumption of low-fat or skim milk which are less appetizing and this has led to the decline of fluid milk consumption. The “dairy industry” has gone along with the promotion of low-fat and skim milk because there is more profit in retaining the butterfat for other purposes, including, using it with MPC to make inferior cheese.
Cheese consumption has increased dramatically over the past 50 years. Will declining cheese quality reverse this trend and hurt dairy farmers even more?
Characteristics of cheese made with MPC
Cheese made with MPC tends to be rubbery, slimy, and does not melt or stretch like natural cheese.
What is the solution?
Search out cheese manufacturers who make cheese the traditional way without using MPC. There are many artisanal and small family farm cheese plants that still make cheese the traditional way. Also, enjoy drinking whole milk because studies have shown that there is no positive benefit from drinking skim or low-fat milk compared to whole milk.
Farm Women United
P.O. Box 113
Laceyville, PA 18623
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