Gobble Gobble: Ayna Arora

Development and Characterization of a Children’s Beverage using By-Products from the Dairy Industry 

My name is Ayna Arora and I am a graduating senior studying food science with a minor in Entrepreneurship. As a former pastry chef and trained chocolatier, I started my degree program hoping to deliver amazing food and great experiences to people on a larger scale. Through my journey, I’ve led and won product development competitions, and have been part of the founding team of a food company. While working on developing products, I was intrigued to learn more about formulating food in a more scientific and controlled manner, and thus ended up in Dr. Rafael Jimenez-Flores’ Dairy Lab to work on a formulation for a beverage made from two dairy by-products!

Ayna Arora

An estimated 8.4 billion pounds of acid-whey are produced each year during Greek yogurt and cheese production. However, the industry is struggling to find a use given its undesirable flavors and lack of feasible uses. Another by-product, buttermilk powder that is produced from the buttermilk from butter churning, is high in protein. My research project focused on methodologies to improve the flavor of acid-whey while using buttermilk to create a palatable beverage. Not only would the beverage provide for a solution to food manufacturers, it would be targeted to children as a higher nutrition offering relative to other high-sugar milk beverages and fruit juices.

With the end goal of developing a beverage that contained acid-whey with fruity flavors, I worked on developing and evaluating 3 methodologies to treat acid-whey to remove the off-flavor volatiles as much as possible. The addition of buttermilk powder to the acid-whey improves the texture and flavor, forming a beverage base to which fruit purees can be added to create different flavors.

We conducted ranking tests with untrained panelists to determine the most appropriate processing methodology. These panelists rated the membrane filtration treated acid-whey as the sample with least amount of off-flavor, which also complements the scale-up feasibility of this method. Membrane filtration is commonly used in the beverage and cheese-making industry and this suggested use would be an easier integration for a manufacturer compared to the other two methodologies we tested.

The research further continued with the addition of fruit purees and sugar to create a beverage formula. The next steps continuing this research are to conduct a scale-up trial with a pilot-plant size membrane filtration system at OSU’s Food Processing Pilot Plant. Along with Dr. Jimenez, I had two lab members also guiding me through this project: Dr. Joana Ortega-Anaya (postdoc) and Alba Mayta-Apaza (graduate student). I am incredibly grateful for my mentors that not only guided me through my research project, but also taught me invaluable life skills pertaining to problem solving and project management. Being able to understand the research process first-hand has made me a much more informed food technologist and has made me a better communicator knowing the challenges that come with research.