By: Virginia Campbell, Tati Kennedy, Cordie Aldridge, Shreya Dalal
What are some common misconceptions about milk pasteurization?
Many believe pasteurization harms milk and rids it of nutrients. However, pasteurization doesn’t harm milk; it helps it! Pasteurization destroys bacteria commonly found in raw milk, such as Salmonella, E. Coli, and Listeria. Furthermore, drinking pasteurized milk does not cause lactose intolerance or allergic reactions more so than raw milk; both unpasteurized and pasteurized milk are equally hazardous to individuals sensitive to milk proteins.
So what really IS pasteurization?
Pasteurization is the heating up of milk to kill bacteria harmful to humans. We pasteurize milk so that it is safe for people to drink! There are two different pasteurization methods: batch and continuous. In batch pasteurization, milk is heated in a large vat to 145°F for 30 minutes to effectively kill the bacteria. In continuous pasteurization, however, the milk is never stagnant in a container, but is pushed between a hot pipe to heat it up in a method known as High Temperature, Short Time (HTST). At this point, the milk’s temperature can range from 161.6°F for 15 seconds to 280°F for 0.01 seconds. HTST pasteurization preserves the nutrient composition better than low temperature, long time pasteurization (LTLT).
How does the government regulate our milk?
To regulate the pasteurization and distribution of milk, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO). Grade A dairy products must meet the basic requirements of the PMO to be sold to stores and consumers (you!). The milk is tested to ensure there are no antibiotic residues, no harmful bacteria, and no colostrum (milk undrinkable for humans),
So what does this mean?
Got (pasteurized) milk? You’d better! Drink pasteurized milk to stay healthy and be sure to inform others who may have incorrect pasteurization perceptions!