WHEY By Larry Keener, CFS, PCQI, and Geoffrey Smithers, Ph.D.
Whey Powder and Food Safety Risks:
A Lesson in Validation and Verification
In July 2018, a number of well-known retail snack products in the U.S. market were re- called because they all contained a common ingredient—whey powder—and there was a possibility that one or more batches of the whey
powder used in these products were contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.1 This possibility
created an unacceptable food safety risk for
manufacturers of the snack products and they
were thus recalled. Thankfully, no illnesses (or worse) have
been reported in relation to these recalled products. While the
outcome for consumers in this recent “scare” was good, and
the regulatory and oversight regimes appear to have worked effectively, the manufacturers, both of the whey powder ingredient and the retail snack products, have suffered both economically and in terms of their reputations.
This recent food safety event highlights the critical impor-
tance of ongoing diligence in better understanding the likely
sources of food safety risks and, following their identifica-
tion, of taking suitable action to minimize
these risks. In terms of whey powder, and
other whey-based ingredients for that matter,
understanding the ingredient and how it’s
manufactured are important steps in identify-
ing potential points of food safety risk, and
thereby the best strategies to analyze for and
minimize the risk.
In this article, we provide an overview of
whey and whey powder, including the raw material, processing
methods used in production, potential hazard points for food
safety risk, strategies to minimize the risk, and modern valida-
tion, verification, and regulatory developments for food safety
Whey and Whey Powder Production
What is dairy whey?
Cheese, casein, and Greek yogurt production all lead to the
generation of copious amounts of a dairy whey by-product.
Taking a close look
at the recent whey