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Alta. researchers create milk encyclopedia

Alta. researchers create milk encyclopedia

The Milk Composition Database includes profiles for more than 2,000 compounds found in cow’s milk

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Alberta researchers have developed a new online resource to help people understand what’s exactly in a glass of milk.

Burim Ametaj, a professor of agricultural life and environment science at the University of Alberta (U of A), and David Wishart, a U of A biologist, have released the Milk Composition Database after about five years of work.

The online encyclopedia consists of detailed profiles for more than 2,350 compounds found in skim, 1 per cent, 2 per cent and 3.25 per cent cow’s milk. The resource also includes works from about 150 journals and new U of A research.

This database provides all the information one would need to know about milk, Amteaj said.

“If you want to know how much cholesterol is in milk, you will find it,” he told the Star Edmonton on July 2. “Or if you want to know how much vitamin A is in milk, you will find it.”

Dairy farmers and veterinarians could also consult the online database for clues about cow illnesses.

“We examine milk for diagnosis of diseases like mastitis in dairy cows, and the database provides a way to compare samples from sick cows with the profile of healthy milk,” Ametaj said in a July 2 statement.

The resource could be used by consumers, nutritionists and other food professionals to modify dairy intake to meet specific needs.

“When you remove fat from milk, you’re taking away vitamins A, D, E, K and even vitamin C, so that can be important for tailoring nutritional counselling,” Wishart said in the statement.

Cow’s milk appears to be just the beginning for the researchers.

They hope to create similar encyclopedias for goat’s milk and sheep’s milk as well as wine, beer and marijuana. has reached out to Alberta Milk for comment on this new tool.

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