What Is the Difference Between Raw Milk vs. Pasteurized Milk?

Strict standards and government regulations established over the past century in the United States ensure that all milk you buy at the store is safe for you and your family to drink. One important regulation — the national pasteurized milk ordinance — has been in place since 1927 and serves to protect public health and food safety.

Pasteurized milk is dairy milk that is heated and cooled using a simple, heating process that makes milk safe to drink before it is packaged and shipped to grocery stores.

The difference between raw milk and pasteurized milk is that raw milk  — straight from the cow — does not go through the pasteurization process. Unpasteurized milk is not widely available because federal law prohibits the distribution and sale of raw milk to grocery stores across state lines. In addition, many states also have passed laws to prohibit consumers from buying unpasteurized milk. In fact, both the Federal Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control warn of serious health risks when consuming unpasteurized milk.

What Is Raw Milk?

Raw milk is milk from cows, goats, sheep or other animals that has not been pasteurized. It is not widely available due to safety concerns outlined by many governmental agencies including the USDA, FDA and Centers for Disease Control.

What Is Pasteurization?

Pasteurization is a simple heating and cooling process, discovered in the nineteenth century, that makes all milk safe to drink.

French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur spent part of his career researching how bacteria could sour beverages. His experiments primarily focused on beer and wine, but he also discovered the same properties in milk. To prevent spoilage, Pasteur invented a process to remove bacteria by heating and cooling milk. He conducted the first experiment in 1862 and its success — now called pasteurization — is an integral part of the milk production process in the United States.

There are a number of different ways to pasteurize milk — each process heats and cools milk to different temperatures. Vat Pasteurization, the original process that became standard during Pasteur’s time, heats milk for at least 30 minutes to 145° F. This way to pasteurize milk now is largely used to create starter cultures for cheese, yogurt and buttermilk, as well as pasteurize some ice cream mixtures.

The most common process in the United States, called High Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurization, raises the temperature of cold raw milk to 161° F for at least 15 seconds. Then, it’s rapidly chilled back to 39° F, its original temperature.

Another form of pasteurization heats milk to 280° F for just two seconds. This is called Ultra Pasteurization (UT) and creates a shelf-stable container of milk that does not need to be refrigerated.

Ultimately, these pasteurization processes make all milk safe to drink, because it works to kill potentially dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. These microbes are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses, according to the FDA.


Source: DairyGood.org

What Are the Dangers of Raw Milk?

When choosing milk and milk products, it is important to consider the differences between pasteurized vs. unpasteurized milk. There are some dangers of raw milk — the most important to note is that without the pasteurization process, it can contain bacteria that otherwise would have been eliminated in the pasteurization process.

Unpasteurized, or raw milk, can pose serious health risks. The kinds of pathogens removed during pasteurization can make people ill, especially those with weakened immune systems, including children, pregnant women and older adults.

What Are the Benefits of Pasteurized Milk?

The benefit of pasteurization is that it the milk you buy at the store is safe and wholesome. It does not affect the taste, nor does pasteurization reduce or alter the nutrients in milk.

Want to learn more about milk’s journey to your table? Take a fresh look to learn why the original farm-to-table food is a great choice for you and your family.


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