MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Is all milk white?

Date: Mon May 15 12:52:02 2000
Posted By: Alfred Bushway, Professor of Food Science
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 956935174.Zo

Hi Thomas,

A simple answer to your question is that as far as I know (and I did check 
with other faculty in our department), all milk is white. The shades of 
white will vary depending upon the composition. Factors that contribute to 
the color of milk are fat, dispersed cassein (one of the classes of milk 
proteins) and calcium complexes, and water-soluble riboflavin (a vitamin). 
These compounds contribute to milk's opaque ivory color by interfering 
with light transmission. 

The ammount of carotene in the diet will also 
affect the color. They provide a yellowish color. High concentrations of 
ribolfalvin also contribute to the yellow color. Removal of the fat and 
thus carotenoid pigments and solids when making skim milk accounts for the 
bluish hue one sees with this product. Thus, one would expect milk from 
mammals with a high fat content (marine mammals) to have a yellower tinge.

I hope this answers your question.

Al Bushway
Professor of Food Science

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