The Great Milk Debate

Pasteurized, Ultra Pasteurized, Homogenized, Organic, rbST, rbGH. What does it all mean?! What’s the difference? Why is some refrigerated? Why is that Organic brand, Horizon sitting on the shelf unrefrigerated? All your questions answered right here, right now.

  1. Pasteurized. There are two types of pasteurized milk we’ll discuss here. First of all, it’s important to know that this is done in order to slow microbial growth or bacteria. This normally contains additives and preservatives in order to extend shelf life.

    Ultra Pasteurized or UHT (ultra high temp) extends the shelf life, but also kills all of the nutrients in the milk while also killing all of the bad bacteria. This process can also make milk harder to digest. It doesn’t require refrigeration, which is why brands such as Horizon are sometimes found on the shelf. Don’t get me wrong, you can still find these in the refrigerated section as well. Aldi, Target, Wal Mart and other store brand names may carry their Organic version of milk, but most likely it’s pasteurized using UHT. This is where you have a decision to make as a consumer and weigh the pros and cons. Yes it’s Organic, but it’s also referred to as “dead milk” because it does absolutely nothing for your body. This method is normally used when being shipped great distances. The milk you buy in Ohio may be coming all the way from Texas.

    Low-heat Pasteurization is your best bet. This is usually employed only by smaller farms that sell their milk locally. This process heats milk to no more than 145 degrees where it’s then held for 30 minutes and quickly cooled for bottling. More enzymes and proteins remain intact with this technique.

  2. Homogenized. This gives milk a balanced consistency forgoing the need to shake the milk, but also changes the molecular structure of milk which in turn prevents the delivery of important nutrients to the body. If Non-Homogenized, you’ll need to shake the milk as there is a cream layer that sits on the top of milk in it’s natural state. This is said to give milk a full, bodied and clean flavor. Cartons or bottles will state to “shake well” if milk is non-homogenized. Lactose intolerance or milk allergies have been known to decrease when individuals choose to drink non-homogenized milk due to the fact that the milk molecules are broken down in their natural state and are more easily digested.

  3. Hormones. and antibiotics. rbST (recombinant bovine somatotropin) and rbGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone.) This one can get confusing. The FDA approved an animal drug called bSTand bGH to increase milk production in dairy cows. rbST/rbGH is basically the GMO form of bST/bGH and makes it possible to produce mass amounts of bST/bGH. This is where antibiotics come into play. Many cows who are given rbGH often suffer from more udder infections or mastitis and are given antibiotics as treatment. If you’re a mother who has ever been in the business of owning a “breastaurant” surely you can feel for these poor cows!! Once the antibiotics are out of their system, they are returned to the herd. All milk is, however, supposed to be tested for antibiotics and is not to be put on the market if tested positive.

  4. Organic. Livestock must be allowed to graze on pasture, be fed organic certified feed, cannot feed on animal byproducts, and cannot be treated with any drugs unless absolutely necessary. If there is a need for antibiotics, the cow is not allowed to return to the herd for 12 months. To be considered Organic, cows also cannot be treated with bGH let alone rbGH.

    Now, what do we do with all of this information?!The choice is yours. I personally stay away from anything that’s been pasteurized using UHT even if it’s Organic. I do buy Organic Pasteurized or I’ll look at my local farm options and visit their website to verify their practices. I don’t drink milk, but my kids do and I’ll spend the extra few dollars to make sure they’re getting the best, safest product out there for their growing bodies. So? What will you choose going forward?