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Cornell and Mac Farms create nutritious milk beverage for young adults, to be bottled in Cooperstown, N.Y.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- A nutritious carbonated milk beverage for grown-up tastes called Refreshing Power Milk, or RPM, developed in Cornell University's Department of Food Science laboratories, is being put into production.

The beverage will be made at a new dairy plant run by Mac Farms Co. in Cooperstown, N.Y., beginning Aug. 27. Mac Farms, headquartered in Burlington, Mass., is the company that introduced e-Moo, the carbonated milk drink for children, also the product of Cornell research. E-Moo also will be made at the Cooperstown plant.

"Most milk beverages are focused on children. With a different nutritional, fat, sweetness and flavor profile, RPM is targeted to an older category, young adults," says Cornell professor of food science Joseph Hotchkiss. Working with Cornell research microbiologist Brenda Werner, Hotchkiss spent a year examining and developing RPM's nutrient content, performing sensory analysis and determining product shelf life.

Earlier this summer, a $100,000 grant was awarded to Mac Farms by the New York State Department of Economic Development. The plant is expected to create at least 25 new jobs over the next three years.

RPM will come in flavors such as vanilla cappuccino, Brazilian chocolate and chocolate raspberry. The drink provides young adults with a healthy alternative to sports and non-nutritional, fluid-replacement beverages, says Mary Ann Clark, Mac Farms' vice president for technical services, who also is a registered nurse. RPM, she says, provides a significant percentage of the daily Reference Daily Intakes (established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) of calcium (40 percent), magnesium (10 percent) and potassium (15 percent.) It is lactose-free, fat-free, low in calories and it contains the same nutrition found in grade-A skim milk, Clark says.

"Women have become increasingly aware of their specific nutritional and health needs," Clark notes. "They have learned that they may be prone to osteoporosis and high cholesterol. They also know about the dangers of heart disease and cancer. These diseases may also have dietary factors. Women want products specifically formulated to address their particular needs."

Notes Hotchkiss, "Putting carbonation into milk is done for technical reasons, such as extending shelf life. Carbonation extends the shelf life by up to eight weeks, but people like carbonation in their beverages because it is refreshing, the mouth feel is improved and flavors are enhanced."

Hotchkiss and Werner worked closely with Clark and her husband, George, Mac Farms' vice president, at Cornell's food science pilot plant to find a formula and flavors that young adults will like. The research was funded by Dairy Management Inc., Chicago.

The partnership between Cornell and Mac Farms began about three years ago, when the Clarks were looking to boost milk marketing while improving child nutrition. They contacted Hotchkiss, who had been developing ways to carbonate milk to increase its shelf life.

Using initial funding from the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, St. Albans, Vt., Mac Farms and Cornell researchers modified a bottle-filling machine to include a carbonation element. Over several months of experimentation, the researchers added flavoring and nutrients and came up with e-Moo.

Mac Farms will hire a Cornell food science student as an intern this fall. The intern would perform routine quality systems testing and participate in product development projects.


EDITORS: You and/or your reporters are invited to attend an RPM tasting and bottling demonstration at the Mac Farms production plant in Cooperstown on Wednesday, Aug. 27, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. For directions, contact Blaine Friedlander at the Cornell News Service at (607) 255-3290 or George Clark at (617) 899-2527.

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