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Ultra- Pasteurized Milk:What Does It Mean?

Updated on January 17, 2018
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.


Louis Pasteur discovered that things heated to high temperatures and held there tended to have a longer shelf life than things not heated. In the late 1800s this was an important breakthrough to understanding bacteria and disease. Good old Louis, being the man that he was figured he had found an awesome way guarantee a good glass of beer with his lunch.

Why Milk Was Pasteurized

However there were real problems with food borne illness in the 1800s due to filthy conditions of both people and animals. As a matter of fact, history repeats itself- we are moving in that directions again. Pasteur and others found that by applying his discovery to milk the filthy dairies could produce a cleaner product while they worked to solve the many problems surrounding them and clean up their act, so to speak. It was such an easy solution, however, that the dairies had no real reason to spend the time and money to be more sanitary and so pasteurization came into vogue as an easy, and inexpensive fix.

As dairies became larger and milk was mass produced and traveled further distances pasteurization became helpful for making sure that the milk did not spoil en route. The public was not convinced however, and really fought against accepting pasteurized milk.

Is Raw Milk Dangerous?

Not to worry. Remember the food borne diseases of the turn of the century? A couple of good advertising campaigns were put in place and raw milk was suddenly the source of all kinds of diseases and icky bacteria. "Good mothers" gave their children pasteurized milk. And "make-it sterile mania " was born. Everything from milk to kitchen counters was part of the sterilization process. Even breast feeding fell out of favor because you could not sterilize a human nipple or pasteurize breast milk!

So, by the late 50's and early 60's pasteurization was all the rage and raw milk was something that only suicidal people drank.

Ultra-pasteurization: The Blanding of America

As the small family dairies went broke and the large commercial dairies became bigger the amount of milk available locally dropped. Now instead of milk being shipped 100 or 200 miles it was shipped across country. Sometimes it didn't arrive in such good shape.

Over time the microorganisms became resistant to pasteurization and human bodies less resistant to the microorganisms. So, the dairies began to process milk at higher temperatures, longer, and called this new process ultra-pasteurization.

Ultra-pasteurization will keep milk from going bad for four weeks, sometimes more. This milk can actually be kept on the shelf because it really won't go bad. The grocers love it. It is great for their profits. The big dairies love it, they worry even less about food borne illness as a result of their poor sanitary practices and the poor health of their animals.

Many consumers don't love it because it tastes...flat...watery...not really like milk. That is o.k. because over the past 30 years most of the American public has forgotten what real milk tastes like, just as they have forgotten what a real apple tastes like.

Ultra-pasteurized milk cannot be turned into cheese. Whipping cream that is ultra-pasteurized does not whip as well, so sometimes they add stabilizers to it. Even the organic dairies, like Horizon, are ultra-pasteurizing their milk. It does have to be marked according to the FDA, and it is getting harder and harder to find milk and dairy products that are not ultrapasteurized.

The Truth About Milk

But Is It Bad?

If drinking tasteless milk is acceptable to you maybe the health information won't be. You see, milk has both friendly and unfriendly bacteria in it. For the most part milk produced in clean environments, with careful farming practices does not have an overabundance of unhealthy bacteria, and in the small amounts actually help our body build up a resistance to illness, while the good bacteria keeps our bodies healthy and working properly.

Pasteurization also cuts the nutrient content of the milk. Pasteurized milk has up to a 66 percent loss of vitamins A, D and E. 50% of the Vitamin C is lost. High heat affects water soluble vitamins and less effective. How much less? Anywhere for 35-80%. Vitamins B6 and B12 are completely destroyed during pasteurization. Pasteurization also kills numerous beneficial enzymes, antibodies and hormones. Pasteurization destroys lipase (an enzyme that breaks down fat), which impairs fat metabolism and the ability to properly absorb fat soluble vitamins A and D. This is why the milk is fortified with vitamin D. It is also why Americans in the 20th century experienced high cholesterol like never before. Milk is a wonderful source of calcium, but pasteurization makes calcium and other minerals harder to absorb. One method of testing to see if milk has been adequately pasteurized is to test to make sure that phosphates have been completely removed. Phosphates are essential for the absorption of calcium. Uh oh.

So, now we have to take vitamins by the handfuls to get enough vitamins to power our bodies. Think of it like this. How would you feel if your employer took 75% of your paycheck and then replaced it with the same value in swamp land?

Raw Milk?

With today's technology raw milk could easily be transported across country in time to be bought and used before spoilage occurred. Raw milk is healthier, raw milk is better for the environment. What is the problem?

A hundred years of propaganda.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Faye 5 years ago

    The FDA ia practically useless. I certainly would not trust their website on the subject. And the label organic doesn't mean what it used to mean. For example, eggs can read organic. But if they don't also read free range, the chickens could be raised in some concrete building eating organic feed. I would not want those eggs. Cage free and free roaming are also two deceptive terms on egg cartons.

  • Marye Audet profile image

    Marye Audet 5 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    John.... I am approving your comment as a matter of providing both sides... however.... The FDA is not really very trustworthy in my (and others') opinion.... They are allowing unlabeled GMOs...they are in bed with Monsanto... pink slime in hamburger... yeah... trust the FDA... NOT.

  • profile image

    John Moore 5 years ago

    Please check the facts before you believe this dangerous propaganda - for your children's sake, for Gods sake, get the facts below!

  • profile image

    Milk Drinker 6 years ago

    Actually, ultra-pasteurization is higher temperature for a SHORTER time--typically one second. Standard past is a lower temp for 20-30 secs.

  • profile image

    MS_CITIZEN 6 years ago

    Ultra- Pasteurized Milk causes me to have migraines. A lot of foods/drinks today cause me to have migraines. What is happening to our food system! I can't even eat meat from the grocery store due to having nervous system symptoms of shocking up and down my entire boday along with an involuntary muscle twitching that last for two to three days sometimes more...

  • homesteadpatch profile image

    homesteadpatch 6 years ago from Michigan

    More information that people just don't know. And more information that needs to be screamed from rooftops.

  • profile image

    Lucretia 6 years ago

    Thanks for the great article! We switched to un-homogenized, low-temp pasteurized (the best we can do with local ordinances...grr!) milk almost a year ago. It is amazing the difference. I've been so much healthier since we switched. I used to be constantly coming down with different bugs and such, but not anymore. Any time I've had to drink HTP or UP milk, it tastes so...gross. Even the organic milk. I swear I can even taste the chemicals they use to clean the pipes the milk goes through at the plants. Bleh!

    I would love to see an article discussing the problems that homogenization causes! All to keep people from being able to judge how much cream was included in their gallon of milk. If I'm remembering correctly, homogenization breaks down the fat molecules, sure, but then on the other side of the homogenization process they re-coagulate around protein molecules, making it so the body can't absorb them. Wonder why so many people think they're lactose intolerant? My dad thought he was allergic to milk for 20 years before he discovered this milk. Now he can drink it with no problems.

    I just want people to stop messing with my food.

  • profile image

    TOM F 6 years ago

    Interesting chart on how many nutrients are actually lost on the organic valley web page.

  • profile image

    sleigh100 6 years ago

    I was told by an organic grocer that an organic label does not mean that something is not GMO. Apparently there isn't yet any regulation on GMO labeling in relation to organics. (Our dear FDA doesn't want to offend any big bio-tech co's!) He told me to look for "pesticide free" or non-GMO labels. Of course, pesticide free could also indicate a farm that is going organic but isn't there yet. I don't do milk myself, but was using a lot of organic soy products, until I realized there is almost no soy grown in the US that is not GMO, thanks to Monsanto. (Also -just an FYI- organic does not mean 'vegetarian' either; my veg sister in law was shocked to find fish parts being plowed into the soil when she went to volunteer at an organic farm.) Hopefully the more informed we the public become, we will begin to advocate for more concise, relevant, & truthful labeling on our foods.

  • profile image

    Sally-Anne Australia 6 years ago

    Thank you for this information. I hadn't ever heard of 'ultrapasteurised milk' until - just on a whim - I read the packet of the Coles Organic Milk I always buy (thinking it is so good for us) and saw that it wasn't only pasteurised but also ultrapasteurised, and so I decided to check it out. Funny, it still tastes really nice, this milk, not like UHT milk at all. Organic UHT milk tastes awful but this one still tastes creamy and delicious, in fact it tastes nicer than the other brand organic milks that are 'pasteurised'. I don't like the non-pasteurised one available at the supermarket as it is also unhomogenised and I don't like those globs of fat in my coffee. I grew up in a rural town and we did have our own dairy farm's milk when I was young - it was very similar in taste to the unhomogenised unpasteurised ones on the shelf but much creamier, I remember. Anyway, now i have found out about ultra-pasteurised i will be able to tell others that it is just as or nearly as bad as UHT, and i will go back to simply pasteurised organic milk or try harder to find an organic non-pasteurised milk that i like. By the way: What did that person mean by saying 'ORGANIC DOESN'T MEAN ORGANIC ANY MORE'? I had thought 'organic' means certified organic ie not GM, no pesticides used at all in producing or processing it; is that not correct?

  • profile image

    pangea 6 years ago

    I just took a cheese making class and the teacher informed us that not a single cheese can be made from ultra pasteurized milk. In fact, once milk has gone through that process it is basically nothing. That's what the big milk companies have to add so many vitamins to the watery stuff that used to be milk

  • profile image

    Fancie :-) 6 years ago

    Wow!! This was soo helpful, I was looking for reasons why the milk in grocery stores was not working for my tummy. I had been looking for "organic" milk, but not finding it, so now i can look under "raw" milk because as you all know, organic doesn't mean organic anymore.

  • GmaGoldie profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

    I love milk and this is much needed information. Recently I heard about raw milk - sadly it has taken this long.

    I just purchased milk before I left on a trip and the date was 21 days in the future - now I know how they do that!

    Great information. Thank you!

  • profile image

    regina 7 years ago

    where can I find raw milks? i have a 13 month old son....are raw milks safe for toddlers.

  • profile image

    Elizabeth 7 years ago

    Thanks for your article. Yes, I know all this to be true and there are plenty of sources out there that say the same. It is fascinating that people are so attached to consuming sub-standard foods that harm us that they will denigrate traditional wisdom just to support agribusinesses that care more about profits than their health. We are a family of three and are able to buy raw milk in quantities that have never spoiled. Anyway raw milk can keep up to 3 weeks because the good bacteria keep the harmful bacteria in check. I hope people stop believing the propaganda before it causes even more allergies and all the other health issues. Check out

  • WestOcean profile image

    WestOcean 7 years ago from Great Britain

    A fascinating Hub. Thanks.

  • Cedar Cove Farm profile image

    Cedar Cove Farm 7 years ago from Southern Missouri

    I love your comment on raw milk as we are raw milk supporters. We thank God that we have our own cow and enjoy fresh milk daily, have been for several years with no illnesses. In fact, our allergies and general health have been improved, IMO. Thank you for this.

  • Sindee Palomino profile image

    Sindee Palomino 7 years ago

    Great article. Yes folks, there is plenty to substantiate her article. As far as links, she gave us some-don't you see the two videos on this page? I've done the research myself, before this and the info. is definitely there and right on target. And there ARE studies showing all these health problems to be true, and not just from the hormones, but from the pasteurization as well.

    As far as "wasting" milk? What you are really saying is that you want to be able to buy in greater quantity than your family can use, instead of a smaller container, for whatever reason and are willing to sacrifice your families health to do it. As far as denegrating pasteurized milk, I think the facts have made sure that P. milk has done that to themselves without any help from anyone. These people are only stating proven facts. Facts are facts and P. Milk producers have been lying to the public-denegrating raw milk to elevate P. milk-for a long time. Just because there are those willing to possibly sacrifice their lives (Yes, those reporters put their job, their reputation and yes, their whole way of life, which is what happens to someone who looses a job and faces possible blacklisting from their career community) to keep from sacrificing ours, does not make it propaganda. Put that acusation where it belongs, in the big milk companies. They are the ones lobbying for pasteurization. What was once fed to the hogs because it wasn't good enough to drink, is now fed to us. Happy drinking-don't waste a drop!

    Oh yeah, Sickly, have you tried goats milk? Many who cannot drink cows milk, like me and others I know, can drink other types of milk. I know of an infant, who the doctors sent home to die because they could not help him, was saved literally by switching to goats milk. He is now older and doing fine. If you prefer your milk, fine. The author is only reporting on facts that have been suppressed for too long.

    Keep writing Marye!

  • profile image

    Jess 7 years ago

    Where are you getting your facts? I could not find a single reference in this whole article, not very credible if you ask me.

  • profile image

    7 years ago

    Sorry, but you can organic food propogandize all you like without attacking ultra-pasteurized milk. I find it to be excellent for a small household that doesn't like to WASTE milk because it spoils before it is used. Didn't your mom ever teach you that you cannot elevate one thing by denegrating another?

  • profile image

    Sherry from Ecuador 7 years ago

    I raised my two sons out here in the countryside in Ecuador. We always drink raw milk,cheese and yogurt made from that same milk. We eat the eggs and meat from free-range chickens. Our health has been excellent. Now my son, who lived in the States for some years, has come to live here with his family. His wife doesn't like our milk, eggs or chicken. All are filled with germs, so she says. She prefers to spend a fortune buying meat, eggs, and milk in the supermarket. Better? Don't think so..

  • frogyfish profile image

    frogyfish 7 years ago from Central United States of America

    Excellent eye-opening hub with so much truth it is sad for us all. Keep hubbing like this, your information needs to be read! Thank you!

  • johnwindbell profile image

    johnwindbell 8 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

    Love your hub. It is a nice adjunct to mine - Got Milkijuana.

    Wonder why it isn't included in the 'related hubs' portion?

    Well, read ya later,


  • profile image

    Sickly 8 years ago

    I thought I was alergic to milk until I found ultra-pasteurized milk. If I get regularly pasteurized milk, I have cold symptoms until it is out of my system. So, yeah, it may not taste as good, but it sure is nice for those of us with sub-par immune systems.

  • Houses Bulgaria profile image

    Houses Bulgaria 9 years ago from Bulgaria

    Thank you for an informative and interesting article. My neighbours here in Bulgaria often bring me raw cow's milk, goat's milk and sheep's milk and I was curious about any risks. Your article has put things into perspective for me