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How the Milk Pasteurization Process Works and Its Benefits

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Have you ever seen the word “pasteurized” on a milk label and wonder what it means? If so, then this article’s got you covered. Milk pasteurization is a process that ensures your milk is safe to drink. The current lifestyle has forced society further away from farming, so it’s easy to forget what these terms mean and how they affect our health. But this knowledge is also important. So let’s look at how the milk pasteurization process works.

Milk Pasteurization Process

How the Milk Pasteurization Process Works

During the milk pasteurization process, raw milk is heated to at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is maintained for 15 seconds in order to kill bacteria. The milk is then cooled back to a temperature of 39 degrees where it is stored and shipped without all of that potentially harmful bacteria.

The dairy industry has also discovered ways to make milk pasteurization healthier for the environment. They use the heated pasteurized milk to start heating the next batch, thus the energy requirement to reach 161 degrees is lowered. This saves energy in both the heating and cooling cycle.

Milk Pasteurization Process

How Pasteurized Milk Benefits Consumers

Raw milk contains bacteria that can be dangerous to your health, so the milk pasteurization process is designed to eliminate those bacteria. Be heating to a temperature of at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit, milk pasteurization creates an inhospitable environment for hazardous bacteria, thus removing the risk of ingesting contaminated milk. This prevents deadly diseases like scarlet fever, brucellosis, and tuberculosis.

That’s not the only benefit, though. Pasteurized milk has a longer shelf life than raw milk.  For families that drink milk occasionally, this is a big bonus as it reduces the likelihood of having to discard unused milk due to short expiration dating.

But Does Pasteurization Change the Nutritional Value of Milk?

Not according to the Centers for Disease Control. The nutritional value of pasteurized milk is almost identical to that of raw milk. But consumers can get these nutrients without risk to their health. The mineral composition also remains the same throughout the process.

However, there is one slight difference between pasteurized and raw milk. Raw milk contains a miniscule amount of vitamin C that is eliminated during the heating process. But, Vitamin C is the one of the easiest vitamins to access. Most of us are well over our daily limit anyway so this slight loss won’t affect most people.

Milk Pasteurization Process

Does Raw Milk Contain Good Bacteria?

Many people fall prey to the myth that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria. All of the bacteria in milk is harmful and can expose you to illness. If you want healthy bacteria, don’t risk your health on myths. Choose products that are verified by registered dieticians.

Can Milk be Pasteurized at Home?

Yes. There are do-it-yourself pateurizing machines, or if you find yourself in possession of raw milk and you don't own one of these pasteurizers, then you can pasteurize it at home with minimal effort. It’s a simple 4-step process.

1. Sterilize the work area. All containers should be boiled in water for two to three minutes.

2. Add the milk to a double boiler. Heat it until it reaches at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir milk as it heats.

3. Maintain a temperature of at least 160 degrees for 15 seconds. The temperature must remain above 160 for the full 15 seconds to remove all bacteria.

4. Place the boiler in ice water so that it cools the milk rapidly. The goal is to get the temperature down to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. After which, you can store the milk in the refrigerator.

Final Thoughts

Milk contains a ton of powerful nutrients, but it can also contain bacteria that are quite harmful. Milk pasteurization ensures that your milk is completely healthy. Make sure your milk is safe for your family by looking for the word “pasteurized” on the label. Now that you know what it means, you can rest-assured that you’re still getting the full benefit of milk without the risks.

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