Why is milk pasteurized?

Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics
Milk pasteurization is necessary and mandated appropriately when it comes to industrial dairy production, where harmful pathogens and bacteria are abundant. We know that the health of the cow is compromised when we take it off pasture and bring it into a confinement feedlot operation. It hurts the cow, reduces the nutritional value of the milk, and increases the likelihood of harmful bacteria and pathogens being in the milk.

From a shelf-life and distribution perspective, pasteurization is also favorable. It extends shelf-life to two to three weeks. In the case of ultra-high-temperature ([UHT] pasteurization, in which milk is heated briefly to 280 degrees Fahrenheit and then stored in aseptic boxes), milk stays "fresh" for months. Commercially, this is appealing.

Would I recommend consuming raw dairy products that come from industrially produced milk? Absolutely not. However, a better question might be, would I recommend consuming any dairy product that comes from industrially produced milk? No. The poor quality of the milk, of the environment the animals live in, and of the diet they eat far out- weigh any health benefits that consuming such products could confer. And these are the very things that make pasteurization the only safe way to consume the milk. As Mark McAfee, CEO of Organic Pastures Dairy, writes, “Pasteurization does not create clean milk; it just kills filthy milk."
Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

More About this Book

Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

Eat Naked with Margaret Floyd for a Sexier You Are you fed up with counting calories? Confused by all the diet hype? Want to eat delicious, real food and look and feel great? Leading...

Continue Learning about Food Production & Health

Antibiotics in the Food Chain
Antibiotics in the Food Chain
Treating viruses with antibiotics is like putting a screen door on a submarine. It’s ineffective and can cause lots of problems when a battle begins. ...
Read More
Why might chopped meat make me sick?
Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPHDr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH
Intestinal bacteria that contaminate meat contaminate that portion that is exposed, namely the s...
More Answers
What is the difference between preserved food and processed food?
Margaret FloydMargaret Floyd
There's an important distinction between preserving food and processing food. Preservation techn...
More Answers
Are Farmed Fish Safe and Sustainable?
Are Farmed Fish Safe and Sustainable?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.