Should I Drink Milk Made by Coca-Cola?

Coca-Cola is selling a new line of "designer milk" and everyone's been asking about it - even Doctor Oz wants to know what Nutrition Diva thinks of this new product. Read on for the Diva's take.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #325

I have a rule of thumb: When I get 3 emails in a row from listeners with the same question, I know that the topic deserves a podcast episode. In this particular case, the third email I got was from Dr. Oz, asking me if I would come on his show to explain what this new designer milk from Coca-Cola is all about.

That show will air in a few weeks but Nutrition Diva fans will get the scoop today.

What Is Fairlife "Designer" Milk?

Fairlife is the brand name for a new product that many are calling "designer milk."  It looks and tastes (more or less) like regular milk but if you look at the nutrition facts panel, you'll see a very different picture: Compared with regular milk, Fairlife ultra-filtered milk is 50% higher in protein, 30% higher in calcium, and 50% lower in sugar.

That last bit about the sugar will surely resonate with consumers who have been hammered about eating too much sugar - but I think it's a bit of a red herring. When we talk about reducing your sugar intake, we're usually talking about added sugars and not the naturally occuring sugars in fruit and dairy products.  

Nonetheless, milk that's higher in protein and lower in sugar certainly seems to be in step with the times.

How Do They Make It?

How is this nutritionally-enhanced milk created? The process is a little different than the one used to make Skim Plus milk," another enhanced milk product you might have seen in stores. Skim Plus is made by adding dried milk powder to skim milk.

Fairlife doesn't add anything extra to their milk. Rather, they pass milk through a series of specialized filters, which separate the fat, minerals, protein, sugars, and water from one another. These elements are then recombined in different proportions. And, as with normal milk, they skim off various amounts of fat to create whole, reduced fat, and fat free varieties. 

Finally, they add an enzyme (lactase) which breaks the remaining lactose down into other smaller sugars (namely, glucose and galactose). So this milk is also lactose free.

Should You Drink Milk Made by Coca-Cola?

The fact that this new milk is manufactured by the makers of Coca-Cola makes a lot of people suspicious.  After all, sugar-sweetened sodas have been singled out as a leading cause of obesity in the U.S. - and the companies that sell them to us (by the boatload) are often compared to cigarette manufacturers.  Should we really be buying milk from these people? 

You could actually see this as a good sign. Soda sales have been steadily declining for the last 10 years and Coca-cola is looking for new products to take up the slack. Designer milk is certainly a lot better for us than soda. Isn't it great to think that we consumers are actually leading companies to develop healthier products by voting with our dollars? 


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.