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What Does Naturally Permeate Free Milk Mean? Why Is Permeate Bad?

Updated on July 31, 2013

Permeate free milk, put simply, is milk without additives; without fillers. It is natural milk. Milk as it should be. It is milk that is not diluted.

Were you even aware that the milk you drink may not be really milk? Is the dairy industry's dirty little secret now being exposed? Could this be the cause of so many medical complaints and the rise in lactose intolerant diagnosis?

What is in your milk?

What is permeate free milk?
What is permeate free milk?

What is permeate?

Permeate is a by-product that is made during the manufacture of dairy products. A watery by-product.

The more that is added back to our bottled milk, the less real milk that is used and therefore the cheaper each litre of milk is to purchase. Not only does adding this into our milk cheat our farmers, but it cheats the consumer too.

Milk from the cow to you - The Process

Let's understand, in basic terms, the process of milk production. An average cow, on an average dairy farm can produce approximately 20 litres of raw milk per day. This can be more or less depending on what she has eaten, the season and the time of her lactation cycle that she is in.

When the cow is milked, the raw milk, direct from the teat, is 38 degrees. The majority, almost 90%, is water, and the remainder is a mixture of fats and proteins. This mix again can differ depending on her food, the season and her cycle.

After being loaded into tankers and transported to processing plants, excess fats and proteins are removed. The remaining milk is then separated into cream and skim milk; the latter which is filtered through what can be considered a large sieve. Large protein particles remain on one side, and the watery liquid which passes through is permeate. Although it does contain some lactose and minerals, it is almost all water.

It is this which is then added back into milk, in varying quantities (up to 12% in some cases) to produce the range of milk products on the market; low fat, skim, full cream and the many others.

Is permeate bad for you?

No. As it is only a by-product from the processing of raw milk, there have been no reports to claim that it in itself is harmful. It is however not nutritious and therefore waters down what should be a refreshing, natural drink.

Food Standards

The Food Standards Code (covering Australia and New Zealand) allows for the addition of fillers to milk, as long as particular levels of fats and proteins are maintained. Full cream milk must have at least 3.2% fat, for example, and any milk type must retain at least 3% protein.

The argument from the manufacturer as to why permeate is added into milk is simple. They believe that consumers expect a standard flavour of milk all year round and the only way this is achieved is with the addition of fillers to regulate the variations that naturally occur. As earlier mentioned, depending on what a cow feeds on, her cycle and the changing seasons, can not only impact volumes produced, but also flavour and the levels of fats and proteins and therefore permeate is an acceptable addition.

Consumers, however, are generally not privy to this fact as it is not a requirement that this is added to the ingredient list on milk packaging. Who would typically look for an ingredient list anyway? We may look for the percentage of fat but that would be all.

What are are now seeing however, is the added 'Permeate Free' markings on many common brands.

List of permeate-free milk available in Australia

  • Paul’s, Pura and Dairy Farmers Milk
  • A2 Milk
  • Ashgrove Farm Fresh
  • Aussie Farmers Direct
  • Bannister Downs Farm
  • Country Valley
  • Maleny Dairies
  • Norco
  • Peel Valley Dairy
  • ProCal
  • Udder Farm

The move to permeate free milk

From July 1, 2012, two of Australia's largest producers of milk, made the decision to produce permeate-free milk. After looking at their manufacturing process, and listening to consumer outrage, it was clear that the by-products being added to natural, real milk was not essential and was easy to remove.

Not all manufacturers should be tarnished with the same brush. There are other milk manufacturers and smaller dairy farmers with more limited distribution networks, which have either never used, or stopped adding in this filler quite some time ago and of course you can purchase organic and raw milk which are produced under differing conditions all together.

Since drinking permeate free milk, some consumers are reported to have been amazed at the positive impact it has had on their digestion. No more stomach cramps, no more bowel pain and no more suffering in silence all as a result of 'trying' to enjoy a glass of milk or a dessert using milk.

Could this be the answer to many who have been diagnosed as being lactose intolerant? Could many be missing out on a range of dairy products after being misdiagnosed? I'm not suggesting that those people start buying and eating all dairy products without these now-known fillers, but it might be worth a try.

If you do decide to look out for the permeate-free label on milk when you next shop and try to switch to a 'real' milk product, there are a few things that you need to be reminded of. These products may cost more than their sneaky cousins as there are less fillers used and the taste may vary depending on the time of the year and the brand you buy.

The natural seasonal variations in fats and proteins will flow through to the end product giving you, the consumer, a taste of what is almost straight from the dairy farm.

The removal of this ingredient gives consumers the choice. These days consumers readily turn over a jar or bottle from the shelf to see what additives and preservatives are added to our favourite products, and where they are present, we may opt for a more natural variety.

Now, with milk, we have the power of choice and the variety available.

What will you choose?

All Hubs are Original Material by 'Work At Home Mums' ©


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    • profile image

      David Graham 

      5 years ago

      Thanks for a very 'clear' explanation on what 'goes' into our Milk these days. It was only in reading this URL that I now understand it. It's great to know that we are able to drink 'normal' milk without the junk.


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