What you must know about milk pasteurization


Milk is one of the most important parts of the diet of young and old, which is why any information related to it is circulating in a flash. From time to time there have been rumors that the milk is not pasteurized only once, but after it expires it returns to the factory and is pasteurized again and again. At IDK we know everything about milk pasteurization.

It has also been said that the number of pasteurizations of milk appears at the bottom of the bottle or in its paper packaging and ranges from 1 to 5. Of course, this is a conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly refuted by all parties involved in the process of production, packaging and control of milk. The number at the bottom of the packaging of dairy products refers to the codes of the packaging production units and has nothing to do with pasteurization.

The law stipulates that fresh milk must be pasteurized only once. When it reaches its expiration date, it is withdrawn from stores and forwarded to third parties licensed to manage animal products, for the purpose of not only producing feed but also other treatments such as biogas or composting.

What is milk pasteurization and how many types are there?

This is the heat treatment that raw milk undergoes, in order to destroy pathogenic microorganisms that threaten our health and to extend its shelf life.

There are two types of pasteurization: low or mild (done at 72 degrees Celsius for 15-20 seconds) and high (done at 125-135 degrees Celsius for 1-2 seconds). When there were no dairies, people boiled milk before drinking it – often at higher temperatures and for longer.

What is fresh milk?

Until now, low pasteurization milk with 5 day duration was characterized as fresh. This was the time limit set by the legislation taking into account the durability of the product, but also the climatic conditions in Greece (heat for several months). With the new regulations, fresh low-pasteurization milk is allowed to be stored for more days (7 –  9) and each company sets its expiration date.

The milk is milked at least two days before it reaches the shelf. However, if the package is kept closed in the refrigerator, its nutrients are not lost. But the later you open it, the faster you have to consume it.

Nutritional value of highly pasteurized milk

Depending on the heat treatment, some temperature sensitive components are destroyed. In low pasteurization the losses are minimal. In any case, it could not be consumed without being pasteurized at all.

In high pasteurization, heat treatments affect the composition of milk, especially the most sensitive vitamins, such as B6 and B12, folic acid and thiamine. At the same time, its taste changes, it often acquires a burning sensation and its color darkens.

Milk is dangerous before pasteurization

Infants, children and pregnant women should not consume milk that comes directly from the cow or goat without being pasteurized. The benefits of pasteurization are proven. In contrast, the nutrients contained in milk before pasteurization are not confirmed by scientific data.

Researchers warn that unpasteurized milk contains harmful and dangerous bacteria. Unpasteurized milk has no proven nutritional benefits and there is no reason for consumers to put themselves at risk by choosing this milk.

How can you properly pasteurize milk at home?

Boiling milk collected from domestic animals is essential for pasteurization. The milk should boil for at least 3 minutes and stir to boil the entire amount you have collected. Then place it in containers (preferably made from glass) which must also be clean and you can have sterilized them by putting them in a pot of boiling water.

If you want to freeze the milk, be sure to use small bottles (200-300ml) to thaw small quantities that will be consumed immediately. Put the milk in the freezer when it has cooled from boiling and not hot. You can cool the milk faster if you place the glass bottles of boiled milk in a bowl of cold water.

To consume frozen milk, take the bottle out of the freezer overnight and place it in the refrigerator. Within 8-10 hours the milk will have the temperature of the refrigerator and you can keep it in the refrigerator for 3 days. Be sure to heat only the amount you want to consume and do not put the warmed milk back in the fridge.

Pasteurized milk does not cause lactose intolerance

Lactose is the natural sugar found in milk. Both raw and pasteurized milk contain lactose and pasteurization does not change lactose levels. Former proponents of milk claim that raw milk contains Bifidobacteria, a probiotic (beneficial bacterium) that helps digest lactose. While raw milk may contain this probiotic, it results from an infection from animal feces and is not considered beneficial.


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