Course:FNH200/2012w Team06 SoyAlmondMilk
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Production
- 3 Packaging
- 4 Nutrition Comparisons
- 5 Brand Comparisons
- 6 Controversies and Concerns
- 7 Video Summary
- 8 Questions to Consider
- 9 References
The Canadian Food Guide states Milk and Alternatives as one of the four main food groups. Traditionally, dairy milk has played a major role in a well balanced diet. According to Stats Canada, the consumption of cow's milk has decreased significantly from 1992 to 2011.
Why are people turning away from cow's milk? Lactose intolerance or lactose sensitivity is one of the major reasons. The saturated fat, sugar, and caloric content found in cows milk is another. Moreover, in recent years milk alternatives such as soy milk and almond milk have increased in popularity and availability. Cultural trends towards vegetarianism, organic foods and healthy living have pushed more people to transition away from traditional dairy milk. Environmentally, concerns have increased regarding the carbon footprint of raising cattle for human consumption.
There are lots of opinions and information regarding which milk and alternative product is the best - cow's, soy or almond milk. The answer to that question is really a personal opinion. And in order to formulate such an opinion, one must be an informed consumer.
Many different elements including production, packaging, and nutritional content should be factored in when picking a milk and alternative product. Each product has pros and cons regarding its processing, packaging, nutritional content. Variance even occurs between different brands of the same product.
So what's important to you? Are you concerned about the amount of calories you are consuming? Are you worried about genetically modified organisms? Are you looking for a product that uses minimal additives? Do you care about how your milk is processed?
Some of the main goals of soy milk production are to ensure that anti-nutrient factors in the soybeans are inactivated, as well as to make sure the final product is safe to consume. These goals are achieved through the following process:
Harvested soybeans are brought to the plant and cleaned through a grain elevator, while damaged soybeans are removed. 
Soybeans are dehulled to remove unwanted flavours. Hulls are home to a variety of bacteria from the soil, so removing them decreases the bacteria count.
Soy milk has a beany flavour due to the enzyme lipoxygenase. In order to reduce this flavour, the soybeans are blanched and grinded in hot water for 2-6 minutes between temperatures of 80-100 oC.
Soybeans have protease inhibitors that do not allow enzymes such as trypsin to digest the proteins in soybeans, thus acting as anti-nutrient factors. Certain processes such as high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) processing are used, in which soybeans are soaked in water, then processed for 15 minutes at 550MPa and 80oC. Through this process, the trypsin inhibitors are denatured.
The soybeans are grinded in a hot solution of sodium bicarbonate and water. This creates a hot, white colloid solution of soybeans. 
The insoluble soybean particles are separated from the solution using a decanter centrifuge. A drum pushes the soybeans against the centrifuge’s surface, causing the liquid and solid to separate. Removing the insoluble fibres, called okara, creates a smooth mouth feel, as fibers contributed a chalky texture to the soy milk. Afterwards, water, flavours, sugar and vitamins are added to the liquid.
Ultra-high pressure homogenization (UHPH) stops the separation of fat particles from the liquid soy milk, resulting in fat particles that are decreased in size. The soy milk goes through tapered tubes, where fat globules begin to break down due to increased pressure in the tube, creating a smooth, creamy consistency to the soy milk, while minimizing its chalky texture.
Soybean is a low acid food, which means disease-causing microorganisms are able to grow in it. Thus, sterilization is required during processing. Methods such as ultra-high pressure homogenization (UHPH) and direct ultra-high temperature (UHT) sterilization are used. In UHPH, pressures of 300MPa and temperatures of 75oC lead to sterile soy milk. As well, (UHT) sterilization, along with aseptic packaging, is used, in which the soymilk is heated to 138-145oC for a few seconds. UHT helps to inactivate bacteria, as well as deodorize the soymilk, which further removes soymilk’s beany flavour.
The soy milk is flash cooled, and the temperature is lowered through use of cold plates.
The soy milk is stored in aseptic tanks that are pressurized and sealed to prevent bacteria from growing in the milk until it is aseptically packaged.
Similar with soy milk production, processing of almond milk also go through different processes such as cleaning, blanching, grinding, homogenization, pasteurization and sterilization. Yet there are a variety of ways and methods to produce almond milk:
Selection of raw material
The selection of raw material is crucial in order to obtain a highly nutritional almond product.
Blanching and Grinding
Almond milk is made in a similar way as production of soy milk; but instead of soy bean, almond milk is produced from grinded blanched almond with water .
Production of almond paste
Production of almond paste is an important part in producing almond milk. Almonds that are blanched will be grounded, cooked and mixed with sweeteners to yield a base paste for producing almond milk. There are two kinds of traditional production for almond paste:
- 1) “French process”: A combined process of cooking and crushing:
Dry blanched almonds are grated and then subjected to pre-crushing, which is used for tearing apart cells that enclose the almond oil, and thereby obtain a pure almond paste. Different kinds of sweeteners are mixed with a certain quantity of water to produce a solution. Meanwhile, the mixture is cooked to enable the quantity of water to be reduced and to obtain a required constituency of the paste. Then, the mixture is introduced into a combined cooker and malazator, followed by cooling and crushing. In the meantime, various perfumes, alcohols, and other additives are added to the mixture.
- 2) “German process”: evaporation-grilling process:
During this process, blanched white almonds are mixed with sugar. The mixture is then subjected to crushing. Afterwards, water is added to facilitate the Maillard browning reaction while it is under the grilling process. This develops the formation of the aromatic substances and evaporates some water. The cooling process follows; a current of cold air cools the mixture. The obtained product is termed the "mother almond paste", which is added and mixed with sweetener in order to produce the final almond paste.
Finally, almond milk obtained by mixing the almond paste with water results in an aqueous emulsion of an organic liquid (i.e. oil).
Homogenization is carried out to reduce the size of fat globules and other dispersed particles to prevent creaming and coalescence during long term storage, to get an emulsion with precise properties of texture and a high degree of stability, and to improve protein-stabilizing properties. In recent years, these effects have been obtained by the use of ultra-high-pressure homogenization (UHPH).
Ultra-high-pressure homogenization (UHPH)
During this process, almond milk passes through a high-pressure valve, which generates an increase of flow speed and a loss of pressuring, bringing about cavitations, chisel effect, turbulence, and collision of dispersed particles (e.g. fat droplet) for the almond milk.. It is not only involved in reducing particle size but also in destroying microbial cells. UHPH is a combined treatment of pasteurization and homogenization acting simultaneously to obtain commercial milk with a shelf-life similar to pasteurized milk .
|Packaging of soy milk||Packaging of almond milk|
|In the simplest form, soy milk can be produced inexpensively at home for personal consumption and does not require special packaging ||Can make almond milk at home without commercial production|
|Produced at a large scale, can be packaged with advanced technology using UHT (ultra high temperature), and aseptic packaging.||Produced at a large scale, can be packaged with advanced technology using UHT (ultra high temperature), and aseptic packaging.|
|Soy milk can be distributed to consumers in large bulk or in individual containers requiring or not requiring refrigeration, depending on packaging and sterilization method||Almond milk can be distributed to consumers in large bulk or in individual containers requiring or not requiring refrigeration, depending on packaging and sterilization method.|
|Packaging includes: plastic jugs, cartons or shelf-stable boxes, from lunch-box size to family size. Powdered soymilk is usually packaged in a canister ||Tetra paks (please see UHT below), bottled, plastic jugs |
|Tetrapak packaging, plastic cartons recyclable! 
(Consider this next time you throw away your soy milk and be a responsible consumer!)
|Tetrapak packaging recyclable!|
(Consider this next time you throw away your almond milk and be a responsible consumer!)
What is ultra high temperature(UHT) and aseptic packaging?
It is paramount that food is properly processed, packaged and stored to kill disease-causing microorganisms. Soy milk and almond milk in tetrapaks have been commercially sterilized to destroy both spoilage and disease causing organisms. UHT and aspetic packaging is one form of commericial sterilization. First, high heat is applied to the liquid before packaging, and then the liquid is transferred to a pre-sterilized container under a sterile environment. The liquid is heated rapidly by direct injection of steam. The steam is applied at 140-150 degrees celsius for a short period of time and then cooled in a vacuum chamber to remove the water in the form of condensed steam. 
Soy milk and almond milk can be packaged aseptically into containers made from laminated plastic, aluminum and paper, also known as tetra pak. These containers have been previously sterilized with a combination of hydrogen peroxide and heat. 
Storage: Both soy milk and almond milk can be refrigerated or not, depending on the packaging and sterilization method.
Shelf-life: Because soymilk and almond milk had been aseptically sterilized tetra paks,they have a shelf life of 6 months or more. However, this packaging date may change, depending on the number of packaging layers and whether the packaging are more susceptible to perforations. Almond milk or soy milk in non-tetra pak cartons are not shelf stable. Please see below for more information.
How long do Soy Milk and Almond Milk last?
|Unrefrigerated Packaging||Past Printed Date|
|Soy Milk lasts for||1 month|
|Almond Milk lasts for||1 month|
|Refrigerated Packaging||Past Printed Date|
|Soy Milk lasts for||7-10 days|
|Almond Milk lasts for||7-10 days|
|Opened||Refrigerated or Pantry|
|All open packages||Past Printed Date|
|All milk alternatives lasts for||5-7 days|
Cow’s milk contains 16 important nutrients including protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium. To reach the daily recommended intake (as prescribed by Health Canada), it is suggested that 500mL of milk are consumed everyday.
The amount of protein found in milk (about 9g/250mL) is important to a large portion of Canadians, as it is the major source of total dietary protein on a daily basis. 
Calcium is the critical nutrient found in milk, as it is associated with bone health (density and mineralization).  Calcium is the hardest nutrient to replace by eating non-dairy foods. Calcium contributes to the strength of bones, cavity prevention, muscle function, and nerve signaling . Research shows that the most important time frame for bone growth is between 9 and 18 years of age. If bone density is not maximized in this time frame, individuals risk more instances of bone fractures and a greater likelihood of developing osteoporosis later on in life. Another age group that should pay particular attention to adequate calcium intake is women over the age of 51. This has to do with biochemical changes that occur during menopause.
Higher fat milk such as 2% milk are acceptable during growth and development, but as all milk contains the same amount of calcium, vitamins and minerals independent of fat content, one should switch over to the lowest fat option when consuming milk in adulthood.
Studies have shown that cow’s milk is irreplaceable for growth and development in infants and children. Children who drank milk alternatives were found to have lower bone mineralization and more health problems later on in life. 
Overall, higher milk consumption is associated with a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. Negatives of drinking cow’s milk include development of lactose intolerance or sensitivity, and some links to prostate cancer.  The sugar content is also of concern, as it is much larger compared to other milk alterative options. Generally, issues with milk consumption start to arise when consumption is continued well into adulthood. This is logical from a biological standpoint, as milk is not necessary in any mammalian diet after adolescence.
Nutritionally, soy milk is quantitatively similar to cows milk. The major difference is the lower sugar content, which contributes to an overall lower level of carbohydrates.
The protein found in soy products contains all the essential amino acids as the protein found in cow’s milk. However, processing techniques may alter these components. In addition to protein, soy also contains isoflavones that promote a reduction in LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, thus contributing to an overall increase in cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that the decreases in cardiovascular disease associated with soy milk are greater compared to cow’s milk.
Vitamin B1 content is much higher in soy than in cows milk. This vitamin is added to the beverage. The reason for a higher content (50% compared to an average of 17% in cow’s milk) may be due to the bioavailability of vitamin B12. The body processes vitamin B12 in a very complicated way, but basically it has been found that B12 is less biologically available in plant sources compared to animal sources. By increasing the amount of B12 in soy milk, the amount that is actually absorbed will be more similar to that in cow’s milk.
Negatives include the inability for those with soy or nut allergies to drink soy milk. The fat content of soy milk is generally higher than 1% cow’s milk and all brands of almond milk. Furthermore, links between soy products and breast cancer have been found. This is still a controversial topic, as there are many studies providing support for and support against this claim. If you have a predisposition for breast cancer, you may want to take this point into consideration.
In terms of additives, the majority of soy milk brands contain carrageenan, which may be of some concern (see controversies section).
Similar to soy milk, almond milk is lactose free and contains less sugar. Moreover, almond milk contains the lowest amount of calories compared to the other milk products examined. The lower calorie content can be contributed to less carbohydrates and protein. The lack of calories found in almond milk is a major plus for a lot of consumers. However, there are some negatives to this, most notably is protein content.
The lack of protein in almond milk is of concern, especially for those people who do not eat enough protein from other sources. With 1 gram of protein per 250mL, almond milk cannot be considered a source of protein. Comparatively, cow and soy milk contain adequate amounts of protein to contribute to the diet.
Potassium is the only other nutrient that is significantly lower in almond milk than in soy or cow’s milk. Potassium is essential to cell and nerve functioning, but can be found in a variety of other foods.
Almond milk has the least amount of sugar compared to the other milk options. It is important to control sugar intake to maintain healthy chemical signaling in the body, and prevent the development of diabetes. Sugar that is found in milk products or fruits is of the good variety, but as with anything, too much can lead to significant health problems.
Comparing ingredient lists, almond milk tends to have less additives and preservatives than soy milk does. Some brands of almond milk contain carrageenan, however that is not true for all brands (as it is for soy milk).
Lastly, one important thing to keep in mind when buying and consuming soy or almond milk is the carton it comes in. Research has shown that the calcium in the milk products sticks to the bottom of the carton, and no amount of shaking will remix the calcium back into the drink. This decreases the amount of calcium actually consumed compared to the amount of calcium stated on the label. 
- per 1 serving: 1 cup (250mL)
- % = % DV (amount that a person should be having in one day)
Overall Comparison of Soy Milk
Most soy milk brands produce both refrigerated and shelf-stable products. However, not all flavours are offered in refrigerated and shelf-stable containers and their availability varies by store. The consumer should take care in reading the labels of both products as there are differences in the ingredients and nutritional content of refrigerated and shelf stable products of the same brand and flavour.
Silk Soy Milk offers Original, Original Light, Unsweetened, Vanilla, Chocolate flavours. Additionally, Silk produces two 'Silk for Coffee' flavours, Original and French Vanilla. Silk Soy Milk is dairy free, lactose free, casein free. Their products are organic, free of animal by-products, organic, and does not contain any genetically modified soy beans. Silk claims to not use any wheat, wheat gluten, rye, oats, or barley in their products. However, Silk does not conduct tests to ensure and certify that the products are gluten free. As such, those with severe gluten intolerances should be careful.
So Good makes Original, Fat Free, and no sugar added products with flavors Original, Vanilla, Vanilla Light, Chocolate, Strawberry, and Omega-3 Vanilla. Actually, So Good Fat Free provides all the nutritional components of So Good Original , but without the additional calories from the fat. Soy Good Fat Free Vanilla is also available, however its caloric content is higher than original Fat Free as it contains more sugar. People may choose So Good products because they contain calcium, vitamin D2, B12, riboflavin as milk but does not contain any of the cholesterol, lactose, or animal fat found in dairy milk products. Not only is So Good suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets, it also does not contain any gluten. So Good is not made with genetically modified soybeans. It is important to note that So Good must be stirred well when mixed in coffee and tea as their tannins can react with proteins found in So Good causing curdling. Of note, So Good cannot be frozen.
So Nice makes Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry flavours available in a variety of sizes and packaging. So Nice also offers a Probiotic Fibre product as well as So Nice Plus Omega-3 (Original or Vanilla Flavours). So Nice uses only Organic, Non-Genetically Modified Soybeans for production. So Nice products are also gluten, cholesterol, and lactose free as Silk and So Good. The products are fortified with calcium so each serving contains 28% of the recommended daily intake of calcium. Like So Good, So Nice also cannot be frozen.
Nutrisoy also makes two light soymilks in original and vanilla flavor, and has other products in Strawberry, Chocolate, Vanilla, Cappuccino flavours. Nutrisoy is similar to other soymilks in that it is lactose and gluten free, a natural source of omega-3, contains no cholesterol, and is organic and does not contain any genetically modified soybeans. However, Nutrisoy differs from other soy milks as these products are kosher and do not contain carrageenan, qualities which may be appealing to consumers (please see Controversies section for potential risks of consuming carrageenan). An additional consideration to make in choosing Nutrisoy products is that sunflower oil is an ingredient in their soymilks with the exception of the Unsweetened or Light products. This might be a concern for some consumers as other soy milks do not contain additional oil.
Unlike Nutrisoy,Pacific Foods Original and Unsweetened soy milks contain a minimal amount of oil. The nutritional content in regards to caloric, fat, protein, and sugar levels, is on par with other soy milks but these products are lacking in vitamin and mineral content. However, Pacific foods do offer ‘Ultra Soy’ products that contain all the vitamin and minerals present in other soymilks. Pacific Foods soymilk sells only Original, Unsweetened, and Vanilla soy milk flavours. Their products are also gluten and lactose free, kosher, and suitable for a vegetarian and vegan diet.
|Brands (Original Flavour)||Calories||Fat||Protein||Sugar|
|So Good ||110||4g||7g||8g|
|Pacific Foods ||70||2.5g||5g||6g|
|Brands (Unsweetened Flavour)||Calories||Fat||Protein||Sugar|
|So Good No Sugar Added ||70||2.5g||7g||1g|
|So Nice ||60||3g||6g||1g|
|Pacific Foods ||90||2.5g||5g||6g|
|Brands (Dietary Alternatives)||Calories||Fat||Protein||Sugar|
|Silk Original Light ||70||2g||6g||6g|
|So Good Fat Free Original ||70||.25g||7g||8g|
|So Good Vanilla Light ||90||2g||6g||10g|
|Nutrisoy Original Light ||90||3g||7g||8g|
|So Nice Natural ||80||4g||7g||1g|
* Per one cup serving
Overall Almond Milk Comparison
Like soy milk, almond milks come in a variety of flavours and types of packaging. The ingredients and nutrient content vary by brand, and between refrigerated and shelf-stable containers.
Silk offers almond milk in a variety of flavours (Original, Vanilla, Dark Chocolate, Unsweeteend Original and Unsweetend Vanilla). Silk almond milk products are fortified to have as much calcium as dairy milk and vitamin D. All products are dairy, lactose, casein and soy free. They are also pasteurized and kosher and appropriate for vegetarians and vegans.
By adding pea and rice protein, Soy Delicious almond milk products contain the most protein of the almond milks compared here. Soy delicious products provide all 9 essential amino acids. Soy Delicious Almond milk is available in Original, Unsweetened, and Vanilla in refrigerated or shelf-stable packaging.
Earth’s Own almond Milk produces five different flavours of almond milk (Original, Unsweetened, Coconut, Chocolate, Vanilla) but has a varying availability of shelf-stable or refrigerated containers for those flavours. Earth’s own products are all natural, do not contain any GMOs, but are not organic. While Earth’s Own Almond Milk does not contain soy their facility also produced soy beverages. Their products are pasteurized, gluten, lactose free and kosher. Their products are fortified with vitamins and minerals, including Calcium and Vitamin D.
Pacific Foods almond milk is soy, wheat, dairy and yeast free. It is also kosher and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. It is only available in shelf-stable tetra paks and is limited to Original, Unsweetened (Original and Vanilla), and Vanilla flavours.
|Silk Original ||60||2.5g||1g||7g|
|Soy Delicious Original ||70||2g||5g||8g|
|Earth's Own Original ||60||2.5g||1g||7g|
|Pacific Foods Original ||60||2.5g||1g||7g|
|Almond Breeze Original ||60||2.5g||1g||7g|
|Silk Unsweetened ||30||2.5g||1g||0g|
|So Delicious Unsweetened ||40||2g||5g||0g|
|Pacific Foods Unsweetened ||35||2.5g||1g||0g|
|Almond Breeze ||30||2.5g||1g||0g|
*Per One cup serving
Controversies and Concerns
Carrageenan is a thickening agent derived from red seaweed that is commonly found in dairy and dairy alternative products including soy and almond milk. There are two forms of carrageenan: "degraded" carrageenan and "undegraded" food-grade carrageenan.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified degraded carrageenan as a possible human carcinogen. It has been shown in animal studies that degraded carrageenan causes intestinal distress resulting in intestinal ulcerations and neoplasms (abnormal tissue growth).
Undegraded food-grade carrageenan has been approved for use as a food additive and has been examined by Health Canada to show no risk to humans. However, there are conflicting results when undegraded food-grade carrageenan is used in research experiments. One study determined that undegraded food-grade carrageenan does not trigger immune response in the intestines of rats when administered orally.  However, other studies show intestinal inflammation when human epithelial cells are exposed to undegraded carrageenan in-vitro.  Dr. Joanne K. Tobacman from the University of Illinois College of Medicine has conducted several peer reviewed journals on the effect of undegraded food-grade carrageenan on humans and has concluded that both degraded and undegraded food-grade carrageenan triggers inflammation and the amount consumed in the western diet is sufficient to affect human health.   As a result, in 2012 Dr. Joanne K. Tobacman along with the Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit research institute conducting research on agricultural and food issues, filed a petition to the USA Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of carrageenan as a food additive.  This petition was rejected by the FDA on the basis the studies conducted were in-vitro and thus were not significant as real world projections. The petition was resubmitted again in 2013 and is currently pending.
Contradictory Effects of Soy Isoflavones
Soy isoflavones are biologically active compounds produced by soy plants as their natural defense against insects.  Orally administered soy isoflavones by humans may help to lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, and reduce menopausal symptoms.  However soy isoflavones is also known to be a phytoestrogen, which means it has estrogen-like effects. This may disrupt the normal hormonal balance in men and women. However clinical trials have found conflicting results of the hormonal effects of soy. For example a meta-analysis of the effect of soy isoflavones in the development of breast cancer has been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer incidence only in Asian populations but not Western populations. 
Cross contamination of GMOs into the organic crop
The long term health effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are still unknown.Thus cross contamination of soy beans are of concern, as 93% of soybeans grown in the USA in 2012 are GMOs. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is a similar trend of increased use of GMOs in Canada.   The Non-GMO Report published a report in 2007 that shows the contamination of organic soybeans are up to 20% of GMO crop. The high percentage of cross contamination shows the challenges the organic industry and consumers face when dealing with the unpredictability of GMOs.  Therefore it is important to have external third party regulators such as the Non-GMO Project to verify proper labeling of foods.
When almonds are processed at temperatures above 130 degree celcius, there is concern with the formation of acrylamides, as they are strongly believed to be carcinogenic to humans.  In a meta-analysis of the prediction of risk of acrylamides as a cancer-causing agent, it was determined that "acrylamides could not be ruled out as a risk factor of a nonacceptable magnitude".  However acrylamides are not only found in roasted almonds but in many other foods that are processed at high temperatures including french fries and chips. However, almonds are know to have high nutritional properties. We recommend every consumer to consider both the benefits and risks when determining which processed food items should be limited from the diet.
Questions to Consider
Which food additive poses the most concern in soy and almond milk?
With regards to almond milk production, what is the difference between the "French process" and the "German process"?
Answer: the German process mixes the ingredients before crushing.
With regards to soy and almond milk, what causes the amount of calcium to be less than stated on the nutritional facts table?
Answer: Packaging (cartons to be more specific).
What considerations are most important to you when choosing a milk and alternative product? Have they changed after reading more about the packaging, production, nutrition, brands and controversies regarding milk alternatives?
Why would a soy milk production plant choose a processing method that may increase the risk of carcinogens in the product?
Hint: Nitrate debate
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