Milk Whey- From a Problematic Byproduct to a Source of Valuable Products for Health and Industry: An Overview from Biotechnology
Esmeraldas, Carchi, Ibarra and Sucumbíos are Ecuadorian provinces that produce daily more than 407 m3 of milk. Almost a third of all this production is used to produce different types of cheeses, generating near to 122 m3 of whey in the provinces of Carchi and Imbabura. An important part of whey is used in animal feed, but unfortunately, a vast amount is poured into rivers, streams, etc.; polluting natural sources of water. More stringent environmental regulations joined to producers’ awareness, highlights the need to transform whey into less polluting effluents. If, as a result of this transformation, it is possible to obtain a range of new products with higher added value than the whey itself, the resources used in the conversion would be partially amortized. In the present review, some of the available technologies are explored from the biotechnology point of view to overcome this problem in the context of Zone 1 of Ecuador.