There’s a scandal afoot in the breakfast world: additives in Greek yogurt. That’s right, your favorite tasty, protein-laden morning meal is at the center of a new debate about a new “high-tech” shortcut that allows manufacturers to get that thick, creamy quality of Greek yogurt without having to use traditional methods or ingredients.
Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish founder of Chobani (probably America’s most successful manufacturer of Greek yogurt) is adamantly against the use of the new technology and additives in Greek yogurt, which involves using milk protein and/or other starches like tapioca or corn. Chobani uses the traditional Turkish method of making yogurt, something he’s proud of:
” We want to make yogurt the way it was meant to be,” he says.
And for him, that doesn’t mean using additives in Greek yogurt to mimic the texture produced when the customary intensive straining is used. The new method of additives was engineered by another Turk, a man named Erhan Yildiz, who doesn’t see any problem with his more economical option (the machines used to produce Greek yogurt on a large scale are very costly, apparently, and the additives allow companies to manufacture Greek yogurt without investing in them).
Greek yogurt is one of the most popular products in the US right now. Its share of the yogurt market is up to 28%, up from 16% last year. Pretty much every health-minded person I know (aside from vegans, of course) is a fan of Greek yogurt, especially Chobani. It seems like every time I go to the grocery store I see a new brand of Greek yogurt. I usually stick with the store brand, as my personal fave, Fage, is kind of out of my price range. But the “high-tech” Greek yogurt is already out there on the shelves—although Erhan Yildiz can’t reveal which companies are producing it.
In fact, Yoplait greek yogurt is now the subject of a class action lawsuit, which alleges that the greek yogurt it sells actually isn’t even yogurt. That’s because of the milk protein in it. The Greek yogurt I have in my fridge right now, Giant brand strawberry, doesn’t have milk protein or any kind of starches, which are the ingredients Ulukaya is so fired up about. It does, however, contain locust bean gum, which is a thickening product.
If you’re concerned about the authenticity of your Greek yogurt (which, after writing this article, I have to admit I kind of am! I’d definitely rather eat something that’s close to the real thing, rather than an artificial stand-in, but that could just be me), your best bet is to read yogurt labels carefully and stick to Chobani, Fage, or other brands that don’t contain any thickening agents.