In 2019, the EU-funded INGREEN project launched to research and produce functional innovative ingredients from whey, wheat and paper byproducts for the food, feed, pharma and cosmetics industries. Finalised just last month, the project had successfully developed a range of ingredients, some of which were close to market with others still needing further investigation and development.
One area that had shown strong promise for cosmetic applications was dairy whey.
Cheese whey a ‘polluting’ byproduct
Narinder Bains, director at independent R&D consultancy Ineuvo Ltd, one of the project coordinators of INGREEN, said dairy whey was an interesting category to look at, given how much waste was produced each year in Europe.
Addressing attendees at SCS Formulate 2022 in Coventry, UK, last month, Bains said the European dairy industry produced around 75 million tonnes of whey each year, with cheese whey constituting one of the “most polluting byproducts” because it produced a high organic load in terms of waste water with low value as an animal feed.
Approximately nine litres of whey were generated for every kilo of cheese produced, he said, and for an average to small-scale cheese producer this meant €3,500-7,000 in costs each year. “So, fermented processing to convert that whey into higher value-added products is an essential solution to reduce pollution but also add value.”
Analysing skin cell impact
Bains said the INGREEN project decided to look at dermal ageing as a starting point, considering how active ingredients from different cheese whey types interacted with the skin, specifically keratinocytes and fibroblasts, under experimental conditions.
“The things that we really wanted to look at was what happens when cheese waste was applied to these sorts of cells, and do we see a proliferation in addition or degradation of cell growth?”
The team also looked at the impact on collagen and elastin; whether there was an inhibitory effect of…