Getting milk without an animal is no big deal. Vegans have been doing it for ages; soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk are considered good dairy substitutes. A startup called Perfect Day took a different take and produced synthetic milk that actually tastes a lot like real cow milk.
Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandh, Two young scientists with a biomedical engineering background co-founded Perfect Day. Both of them had the crazy idea to make milk without cows, and a mutual acquaintance connected them while one worked on next-generation vaccines in Boston, and the other on tissue engineering, in New York. It was three years ago, and the pair has worked together since to bring their idea to life.
Lactose intolerance is a far more common problem than one might imagine. According to the US National Library of Medicine, 65 percent of the world population has a reduced ability to digest lactose. That calls for a need of alternatives far greater than we have available now. Ryan and Perumal were bent on creating synthetic milk that does not only look like cow milk but tasted the same and even had all its nutrients. Impossible as it might sound, the team says that the product uses existing technologies.
“We wanted to see if we could apply that same type of thinking—taking medical technology and using it to make better safer food. The way we’re doing that is the same way that proteins are made for a million other things today. The way proteins are made for medicine and multivitamins and laundry detergent—even proteins to help clean up stains and stuff—it’s all made the same way, ” said Pandya.
Perfect Day milk is not just a mix of some things; the company instead brews it with a special yeast like beer. The team took a “boring, very studied, very characterized little yeast” from US Department of Agriculture and used 3D printing technology to turn it into milk source. “That yeast we’ve nicknamed ‘Buttercup’ because it’s sort of acting like our cow.”
Pandya and Gandh extracted the DNA blueprint of a cow and recreated it in a lab using 3D printing technology. To make their yeast act like a cow and produce milk, they inserted the DNA sequence in specific locations of the yeast. When this modified yeast fermented sugar, it produced real milk proteins; casein and whey which were then combined with plant-based fats and nutrients to get lactose-free, and rather animal-free milk.
The best part about the product is that it has the same texture and the same taste without any lactose. “Your body cannot tell the difference because it’s the same in every meaningful way,” said Ryan Pandya.
The Perfect Day website says:
“Our products are made from real milk proteins combined with plant-based (lactose-free) sugar, healthy plant fats, vitamins, and minerals. They have the same taste and texture as cow’s milk, but pack in more nutrition with no food safety or contamination concerns.”
Perfect Day rids you of all the worries you have with potential contamination of real milk. The milk is animal-friendly, environment-friendly, lactose-free, cholesterol-free, hormone, steroid, and antibiotic free. As a bonus, it even has a longer shelf life than regular cow milk. The only concern could be the genetically modified yeast, but the team has clarified that the liquid is completely filtered of the yeast used in the production cycle. So the resulting milk is a non-GMO product.
Perfect Day will launch their first food product by the end of 2017, but it won’t be milk. The founders say that there are enough satisfactory milk alternatives in the market but other products like cheese, yogurt, and ice cream are a problem, and the options available in the market are no good. “We are just shy of being able to announce what our first product will be. We don’t think it’s going to be milk though. I think for a lot of people, they have that non-dairy milk that they’re happy with, but they go right back over to the dairy case for the cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.”
Looking forward to finding the animal-free milk in the market? So are we!