Rankin is professor and chair of food science at UW–Madison with an interest in the dairy food processing industry. His research has focused on the characterization of primarily dairy food flavor with sensory and instrumental techniques.
The United States generates 3 million tons of acid whey (AW) each year, much of it a by-product of Greek yogurt production. Current strategies for processing AW are inadequate due to its high acidity and low protein content. Thus, the vast majority of AW is disposed of using costly and environmentally unsustainable methods such as land applications on farm fields. This project has developed a bench-scale, patent pending process to convert AW into three major, high-value products: glucose-galactose sweetener syrup (GGS), milk minerals, and whey protein. The objective of the project is to demonstrate this technology at the pilot scale using facilities at Babcock Hall. Researchers will produce pilot batches of GGS and milk minerals and evaluate them for food safety. Potential customers will use samples of the GGS in a range of their products such as baked goods, ice cream, and flavored milks. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommendation #45 (‘Emphasis on value-added and specialty cheese in Wisconsin).