The Importance of Knowing your Source
Consider the following:
- Recent investigations concluded that DDT and other hazardous pesticides contaminated the majority of green teas sold in the US by major manufacturers (1)
- Investigations focused on herbal supplements underwent DNA testing and revealed that the majority of products were contaminated or substituted with alternative plant species and fillers that were not listed on the labels. Additionally, one-third of these products (major US manufacturers) found no trace of the advertised herb (2). In other words, “Those store brand ginkgo biloba tablets you bought may contain mustard, wheat, radish and other substances decidedly non-herbal in nature, but they’re not likely to contain any actual ginkgo biloba.” (3)
How does this happen?
Well, in the case of the tea, these products were sourced from overseas (mostly India and China) where regulation of pesticide use is much less stringent. As far as the fraudulent supplements? As a manufacturer, I can see how this can happen even without the final seller or packager having any knowledge of wrong doing. If one relies on the word and claims of growers and processors they have never met, especially from distant countries like China, it is not hard to imagine that someone along the line from field to finished product may have used deception to increase profit.
What can we do?
The best way to safeguard against calamities such as these is to be able to trace a food from field or pasture, all the way to the finished product. At Mike’s Mix, we do all of the mixing and final packaging of our products ourselves. However, we rely on others for obtaining raw ingredients. I believe the best assurance for purchasing safe, healthy and quality raw materials is to only do business with individuals and small companies that we have made solid personal relationships with; Farmers and suppliers we can visit and evaluate the integrity and honesty of an operation, in person. If you rely on someone else, especially companies you don’t know from foreign countries, to grow, process and package your products then how on earth can you have confidence in the finished product?
The sale of whey protein is the backbone of our business and also the product that has the highest potential of biological and chemical contamination. We know every step in the production of our protein and the people responsible for these procedures and now you will too.
What is the source of Mike’s Mix whey protein?
As a small family business owner, I inherently trust other small family businesses. Why? Integrity isn’t just a word, it’s a necessity to be competitive and secure a livelihood when competing with large cooperate entities. All of our whey protein comes from one source: a locally owned co-op of family farmers. These family farms produce cheddar cheese exclusively. Why this matters: Whey collected from different kinds of cheeses will have different flavors and other qualities such as pH and color. I have tried many (many!) different whey products and the co-op supplier we rely on has the finest tasting and most consistent whey available. So much so that we are able to sell a whey with no flavorings, sweeteners, or anything else added and we still taste better than most of our competition!
By purchasing whey from domestic small farmers I have the ability to communicate and visit those responsible for the source of our whey first hand. Not having ever worked on a farm or with cows, I once asked a farmer if he had “Happy Cows”, which has been a popular marketing slogan in recent times. His answer was honest and sincere as he explained the value of a dairy cow to his business. A happy cow, stays healthy and produces more milk. We treat these cows like family, because they are our livelihood. I talked to the same farmer about pasture fed cows and he explained that most months his cows were happiest grazing pasture, but winter in the north can be hard and nothing makes his cows happier than a served meal of cereals when there is a foot of snow on the ground. Honest and practical, the type of folks I like doing business with.
Recently, I have been bombarded with questions regarding the processing of our whey as this has become a popular marketing point within the industry. Common questions include whether our whey is cold processed, acid processed, raw and unpasteurized.
The initial processing of whey begins with bovine milk (cow milk). Whey is the liquid by-product that results from cheese production and by law, the federal government requires that all milk be pasteurized and heated to a minimum of 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. So, to answer those looking for raw and unpasteurized whey, Mike’s Mix does not meet that criteria. I have a good relationship with the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research and I recently had lunch with one of their senior researchers. A major competitor of Mike’s Mix Whey is selling a product they claim to be raw and unpasteurized. I asked my contact how this was possible. Now, this lady knows more about whey protein than just about anyone on earth and she couldn’t explain how this could be legal or possible within the US. So, I’m stymied. If these raw and unpasteurized claims are true, from what country is the origin of this whey?
After pasteurization our whey is actively cooled to avoid denaturation of the proteins (4). The whey then goes through a 2 step filtration process: ultrafiltration and diafiltration, which removes much of the lactose and fat. These filtrations are conducted at low-heat and without acids allowing the proteins to remain un-denatured with a finished product constituting 81% protein by weight. The whey that results from this processing meets the highest standards for quality and safety by the Department of Agriculture and as a result is also qualified for use in infant formulas. Although it is comforting to know that the government is overseeing these procedures, it is even more reassuring to be able to visit the processing facility myself and maintain relationships with the folks processing my product. Therefore, I take the opportunity a couple of times a year to personally pick up my protein from the processing facility.
At this point we ship the finished protein to China in a container where it can be packaged at a fraction of the cost without the pesky Department of Agriculture or FDA overseeing and complicating matters. No wait, that’s our competition. Mike’s Mix, which consists of my wife and myself, is a fully licensed dairy facility where we package our protein and other products that we ship directly to our customers. We are continually manufacturing product and we have a very short turnaround time from packaging to receiving it at your doorstep.
Mike’s Mix: A safe and reliable choice
We know our customers have a myriad of decisions when it comes to purchasing whey protein and whey containing products. At Mike’s Mix, our priority is to sell the highest quality, safest and healthiest products available and consider it a necessity to only use domestic proteins and to understand, follow and trust the process from cow to consumer. Additionally, if you ever have any questions about our products you can contact us directly and a real person (Melissa or myself) will get back to you in a reasonable amount of time. Just another advantage of purchasing from a small business.