Milk may do a body good, but a surplus has dairy farmers seeking new markets. So they're paying 15 on every 100 pounds of milk to fund promotion and research. The results so far range from edible packaging to tidier yogurt.
Cornell University scientist Carl A. Batt and his colleagues have taken a close look at a milk protein called beta-lactoglobulin. By substituting one of its amino acids for another, they've improved milk's gel-forming properties. That means yogurt won't "leak" pools of liquid when stored, which some consumers consider a sign of spoilage. Beta-lactoglobulins might even be used for delivery of oral medications, says Batt, since they pass undamaged through the stomach.
Another milk protein called whey is being converted into an edible film by John M. Krochta's research team at the University of California at Davis. The film is a superior oxygen barrier that can extend the shelf life of crackers and nuts. That would reduce the amount of packaging households discard and eliminate the need for BHA and BHT preservatives. It could be available in a year or two, says Krochta.