A young Saudi has established a company selling camel's milk in the United States, despite the animals reportedly being the source of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.
According to a report in a Los Angeles newspaper, Walid Abdulwahab, 23, set up the company as part of his class project at the University of Southern California.
The lighthearted slogan of his company, Desert Farms, is "Make every day a humpday."
Supplied by seven small camel farms, most of them owned by Amish, the Santa Monica-based company recently sold camel milk of $100,000, as it spreads its claims of nutritional and health benefits, the report stated.
"What we know about the camel milk is that, in terms of health, it outperforms every other dairy beverage," Abdulwahab reportedly said.
With no appreciable difference in taste from cow's milk, camel's has 50 percent less fat and about 40 fewer calories per cup. It also has about the same amounts of other nutrients. Desert Farms sells milk raw or pasteurized, with the pasteurized version in most stores, the report stated.
But it doesn't come cheap. A pint, or almost 500mls, costs $16 to $19 online (SR60 to SR71).
The report stated that Abdulwahab's project was inspired by a visit home to Saudi Arabia. After investing his own funds to launch in January, he now supplies camel's milk to stores in Northern California, in addition to selling it online.
Around 80 percent of its products are sold to families that have autistic children, because camel's milk apparently helps to improve the motor skills of these children.
"Camel milk has been used for centuries in the Middle East by nomads and Bedouins, and they swore by it," he said.
"That's why people have faith in it, it's a historical product."
While researching his class project, he learned that some farms in the West and Midwest, mostly owned by Amish, milked camels. He approached them, and soon seven small farms began supplying milk for Desert Farms, the report stated.
According to Abdulwahab, cows outnumber camels by about 18,000 to 1 in US, making cow's milk less pricey.
"Nobody has tested camel's milk scientifically," said Jay Gargus, director of the University of California Irvine Center for Autism Research and Translation.
After partnering with Christina Adams, a writer who has reported success with camel milk and her own son, the Irvine labs began tests this month to "see if there's some basis to it," he reportedly said.