A company in California has found a way to make milk without the cow, created solely in a lab with zero cruelty but all the nutrition. Pushing their cultured milk out into the market, Perfect Day now have an array of products that they state are just as good as the original. These include lab-cultured ice cream and yogurts, that they sell to various stores across the US in the hope of combatting the environmental and welfare issues associated with large-scale dairy farms.
The cultured milk comes during a time of unprecedented food innovation. Cultured meat technology is moving at a staggering rate, with lab-grown chicken being sold in Singapore already and high-end restaurants trialling cultured meat alternatives in Tel Aviv. As regulations from the FDA allow the meat to enter the markets and manufacturing is upscaled to adequate capacity, many expect cultured animal products to come flooding into supermarkets near you very soon.
Perfect Day is no different, and their focus is on dairy. Milk is notoriously difficult to replicate, containing a cocktail of proteins and fats that labs struggle to artificially create. However, despite the challenges, Perfect Day are very clear – their products are not a milk alternative, they are milk.
Their dairy free milk began in 2014, when founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi received a huge amount of interest for milk products without animal involvement. In 2016 they rebranded to Perfect Day, and began work on their lab-based fermentation process. After refining the process and ensuring it was safe, they submitted their milk to the FDA for approval, and after a lengthy ordeal, the FDA deemed the products Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).
To create the milk, the company turns to tried-and-tested methods of producing protein in lab conditions. They take genes from the cow (using harmless swabs) and introduce them into fungi. Fungi grows rapidly, has a long history of safe use, and is especially good at producing animal proteins, so it is the perfect fit to create milk without a cow. Through large fermentation tanks filled with milk protein-producing fungi, they can generate huge amounts of product incredibly quickly. The best part? It’s lactose and cholesterol-free.
It’s unclear just when cultured animal products will become widely available, but regardless, many consumers still need convincing. A study conducted in 2020 found that many young people, namely Gen Z, find the idea of lab-grown meat off-putting and even ‘disgusting’. In fact, 72 percent of Gen Z Australians weren’t willing to accept the animal-free offerings, even after stating they are concerned about the environment.