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Monday, March 30, 2009

Tracing Lactose Back to Its Source

New Zealand. It's given us the Lord of the Rings movies, the Flight of the Conchords, and lactose. And the lactose may be more ubiquitous than either of the other two.

TVNZ reported that:

A by-product of Fonterra's waste is now being sold to some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies.

Inhalation grade lactose, which is not needed in the processing of cheese, is the dairy industry's second largest product in Europe and the sixth largest globally.

Around 45,000 tonnes of high grade lactose is produced each year and it all starts in Taranaki using milk produced in the North Island.

I believe that. This statement, though, seems odd, as least as written:
The ingredient has attracted Dutch pharmaceutical giant DMV, who in 2006 paired with Fonterra to develop the product into the global market worth $US800 billion.

Maybe the total global pharmaceutical market is worth $US800 billion or maybe it's the global dairy market that's worth US$800 billion, but the lactose piece of it sure isn't.

And here's another strange comment:
Now, a third of every medicine tablet made contains lactose that produced in Taranaki.

Every medicine tablet made contain lactose. No. Don't worry about that. Lactose is just plain not in every medicine tablet made. Even if you read that as lactose is in a third of tablets made, that claim is not likely to be true. Maybe a third of the total volume of tablets made with lactose is lactose, but that doesn't seem right to me either. I find that line a mystery.

But I bet I know what happened. TVNZ got a press release from Fonterra and rewrote it as article, even though the writer had no idea of what the words meant. Depressing to find that as a problem everywhere in the world.

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