Whey is generated as a by-product during the preparation of variety of dairy products. The composition of whey has two important features that negatively affect its disposal: high lactose and protein contents. In fact, the presence of 4–5% lactose in whey is mainly responsible for its high BOD and COD values ranging between 27–60 g/L and 50–102 g/L, respectively (when whey goes to liquid discharge). In order to reduce BOD and COD to obtain high added-value products, several approaches and biotechnological processes have been proposed. However, to date these biotechnological processes are far away from being commercially implemented due various factors, such as a lack of robust, well-characterized and efficient wild strains.
Whey is recognized as a suitable medium to produce LBA and Y. lipolytica biomasses. Moreover, hydrolysis of whey lactose by enzyme β-galactosidase can produce GOS, which has potential benefits as prebiotics for animals and human, and for infants and adults.
INGREEN will provide the most suitable candidates for tailor-made processes for the production (from whey having different compositional features) of biomasses to be re-used as microbial adjuncts to produce high quality innovative cheese prototypes with reduced ripening time. The use of such safe microorganisms to produce starters, co-starters or adjuncts reusable directly in food to improve its quality (sensory features and functionality) and sustainability (reduction of ripening times) represents a significant advancement beyond the state of the art that will be based on validated wild strains of Y. lipolytica. Moreover, INGREEN will concentrate lactose from whey using an established Nanofiltration technology and convert the concentrated lactose into GOS and LBA.