Just Say No To UHT Milk

I’d been a raw milk drinker for years. Yet I hadn’t expected to respond so negatively to the glass of Horizon organic milk my friend poured for me. After all, that’s what I’d drunk for years before making the switch to raw milk from grass-fed cows.

“Yuck. This tastes burnt!” I said.

That’s when I saw it. The milk had been ultra-high temperature pasteurized. In fact, more than 80% of the organic milk sold in the U.S. is UHT pasteurized. It’s why I don’t drink organic milk.

What is UHT Milk?

The official U.S. government definition of an ultra-pasteurized dairy product stipulates “such product shall have been thermally processed at or above 280° F for at least 2 seconds, either before or after packaging, so as to produce a product which has an extended shelf life.”

Get this. According to Wikipedia, UHT milk has a shelf life of 6 to 9 months (until opened). When the world’s foremost UHT milk processor, Parmalat, first introduced UHT milk to the U.S. market back in 1993, they hit a snag. Americans distrust milk that hasn’t been refrigerated. We like our milk cold, and UHT milk doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

So, milk producers got creative. They could extend the shelf life of their product and not advertise that they were doing it. They’d sell the milk in normal packaging, in the refrigerator aisle, and none of us would be the wiser.

Now, almost all of the organic milk and the majority of conventional milk available in U.S. supermarkets is UHT processed.

What’s wrong with UHT processing?

The introduction to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Dairy Science highlighted the current problems with UHT processing from an industry point of view:

Often, heat treatment causes milkfat globule membrane proteins and whey proteins to unfold such that buried sulfhydryl (-SH-) groups, normally masked in the native protein, are exposed to the outer surfaces (Hoffmann and van Mill, 1997). In turn, these processes produce extreme cooked flavors, often attributed to changes in the sulfhydryl and disulfide content of the protein fraction (Swaisgood et al., 1987). Conventional pasteurization methods have long been in place and with the advent of UHT technology, the sterilization of fluid milk was achieved using higher temperature treatments for shorter periods. However, shelf-stable milk has met with limited acceptability by the consumer, especially in the United States, due in part to a high cooked flavor. Several attempts to improve the quality of UHT-treated milk products proved successful to varying degrees. Previously, Swaisgood and coworkers used immobilized sulfhydryl oxidase to reduce the thiol content of UHT-heated skim milk and described an improved flavor after enzymatic oxidation to form protein disulfide bonds (Swaisgood et al., 1987). Other studies have showed that altering UHT processing parameters, such as indirect vs. direct steam injection systems, cooling rates, and long-term storage conditions have a significant impact on sensory attributes (Browning et al., 2001). Most recently, epicatechin, a flavonoid compound, was added to UHT milk prior to heating, and the results revealed partial inhibition of thermally generated cooked aroma (Colahan-Sederstrom and Peterson, 2005).

So for decades, UHT processors have known that UHT processed milks results in a “high cooked flavor,” and they’ve done all kinds of experimenting to get rid of the nasty taste and smell (even resorting to adding flavonoid compounds to the milk to try to negate the off-flavor).

Okay, so it tastes funny compared to raw milk. And maybe it smells funny too. But what makes UHT processing any worse than regular old pasteurization?

According to Lee Dexter, microbiologist and owner of White Egret Farm goat dairy in Austin, Texas, ultra-pasteurization is an extremely harmful process to inflict on the fragile components of milk. Dexter explains that milk proteins are complex, three-dimensional molecules, like tinker toys. They are broken down and digested when special enzymes fit into the parts that stick out. Rapid heat treatments like pasteurization, and especially ultra-pasteurization, actually flatten the molecules so the enzymes cannot do their work. If such proteins pass into the bloodstream (a frequent occurrence in those suffering from “leaky gut,” a condition that can be brought on by drinking processed commercial milk), the body perceives them as foreign proteins and mounts an immune response. That means a chronically overstressed immune system and much less energy available for growth and repair. (source)

Now, that’s scary. No wonder more and more people are starting to think of themselves as intolerant to casein (the protein found in milk). Not only do pasteurization and UHT processing kill off the enzymes present in milk needed to digest the casein, the casein itself is altered to the point of being indigestible!

So now you know why I don’t buy organic milk at the store — even when I run out of raw milk. If you want more help deciding how to prioritize your milk purchases, check out this post on Healthy Milk: What To Buy.


Edited on 6/4/2013: Thanks to many reader comments, I’ve removed one erroneous paragraph in the original post! In it, I quoted a prominent leader in the real food movement about using UHT milk in ferments like yogurt or kefir. I no longer agree with the quotation, so I’ve simply deleted it. Thank you all for being such a thought-provoking and challenging community! All the best, ~Kristen

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Comments

    • says

      Wendy,

      That really doesn’t surprise me. I’ve heard similar things from just about everyone who’s started drinking raw milk. Obviously, some people really ARE lactose or casein intolerant — particularly if they’re from non-dairy herding ancestry. But the rest of us can probably do dairy just fine, so long as it’s in its natural state.

  1. says

    I searched high and low for a milk that we could drink since we are allergic to corn. You might think the two things are unrelated, but even organic milk uses GMO corn as a vitamin carrier for the added vitamin D. Once I realized that the nonfortified milk is ultra-pasteurized, I gave up. I, too, believe that UHT milk is dead. In fact, I don’t believe it qualifies as edible food any more. Until I can find a source for raw milk, I will continue to do the only thing that works for us and that is substitute Daisy full fat sour cream plus water for milk in recipes and just drink water. After all, it is corn-free, full fat, and readily available. (I would like to use whole milk yogurt but there is nothing but nonfat and lowfat in my stores. I guess that’s another whole can of worms, isn’t it? I sometimes wonder if we will starve having to rely on what little actual food is sold in the grocery store until the farmer’s market starts up again.)
    .-= kc´s last blog post …GMOs in Pasture Raised Meat =-.

  2. says

    I raise Kinder dairy goats simply because I wanted a source of fresh raw milk for my family to drink. I make raw milk yogurt and ice cream, and hope to make lots of cheese this year. It’s a sad day around here when I have to dry my girls off and go back to “store” milk. Hopefully this year I’ll be able to milk one of the girls through so I don’t have to drink the other junk. Even though what we drink isn’t UHT, it’s still nasty stuff. The problem here in Illinois is that you can’t legally sell raw milk. What a crock of crud, but it’s true.

    • says

      Even when we “have” to drink the pasteurized stuff, we still have a few options. There’s a local dairy that gently pasteurizes their milk and doesn’t homogenize it. We can pick it up at either the Farmer’s Market or a couple local health-food stores. I also know of a couple of brands of pasteurized, homogenized milk that comes from grass-fed cows and ISN’T UHT processed (if you’re really desperate). Also, have you contacted your local Weston A Price chapter leader? It’s possible that there’s a nearby herdshare arrangement where you can get raw milk by buying a share of a cow. Anyhow, you’re lucky to have goats!

  3. Ed Hartz says

    In ways you have to be a renegade today. Look what happened to the Great American Indians. The guys with the guns win. This is not always so. Industrialized food has been their gun for along time ad we were forced fed these industrialized foods for many years without knowing all the facts. Now we have internet and this real good foods movement is rolling along. All the emotionally intelligent have come out of the closet or just now able to step up to the plates. Now is time to start hitting home runs.

    We have a good read for you to demonstrate how we feel about these subjects you write about. we are milkmen and we like David Gumpert’s new book;

    “THE RAW MILK REVOLUTION – Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights.”

    Read this and follow through with some of his suggestions or just make plans. There are a whole “lotta” good things to learn from this book. We did and we thank Mr. Gumpert for writing this book.

    The Milkman is Back!

    Milkmen USA

    Thanks. Remember, cream floats on top, the rest go to the middle and bottom. And no problem with that as long as the good stuff stays on top.

    • Amy says

      The problem with this whole raw milk vs other milk issue is that not everyone will have access to raw milk itself. Unless you know someone who will give you the milk, it’s allowed in your state or you own a dairy farm those who live in major cities or like me, Hawaii where it is illegal to sell raw milk let alone has very little dairy cows I won’t have access to it.

  4. aurelia says

    Not only does this stuff taste like crap, it is often adulterated with thickeners because it is so damaged that the mouthfeel is wrong.

  5. says

    I have heard that it is because of the UHT that expiration dates on organic milk are so much farther out than regular milk.

    My question though is where do I find a raw milk supplier? Thanks!
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog post …I ordered my seeds! =-.

    • says

      Jennifer — The best place to start looking for milk is by contacting your local Weston A Price chapter leader. They’ll know. Otherwise, you can check out the very limited listings at http://www.realmilk.com and ask around at your local farmer’s markets.

      Hope that helps!

      ~Kristen

  6. Pippi says

    I was looking for milk for my daughter when we were visiting my parents in the States over Christmas (they only have skim conventional in the house…bleh!) and was shocked that I could only find UHT stuff! Here in Cananda I’ve never seen UHT organic milk. I went to the fancy grocery store and really poked around and managed to find some full-fat, cream-top milk that was not UHT. We didn’t even come close to drinking all of it in the couple days we were there, but my dad commented after we left that he drank the rest of it and it was the best milk he had tasted in a long, long time. They still don’t believe me that it’s good for you, too.

  7. bill says

    I’ve been making yogurt for the last 3 years using UHT milk. It works fine. Indeed, it’s incredibly convenient to not have to pasteurize the milk yourself… I like it better than commercial yogurt. I agree with much of the Weston Price philosophy in principle, but their article about UHT (which finds its way into articles such as yours) is just plain wrong, and maybe even intentionally misleading.

    I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not you think UHT is good or not. But, without a doubt, you can make fine yogurt with it. Thousands (millions?) of people do. I use Yogourmet yogurt starter or just propogate the culture from previous batches.

    • Darcy says

      I started buying Organic Valley recently but was confused why organic milks expiration date was always over a month so I googled and found out about UHT and then I found this gloomy article.

      THANK YOU for your comment because I was about to toss mine out and never drink it again because of the whole “If a product will not support microscopic life, it is not likely to support human life” statement.

      I agree with u that others need to decide whats good or bad for them but when u have a valid point no need to scare people with false information in the process and that’s what this article did. I’m thankful for your comment so that this article didn’t turn me into a chicken little like I’m sure it did for many others.

      • Amanda says

        Thank you, Bill. I, too, make my yogurt from UHT milk and it’s fabulous.

        Yes, the UHT process is less than ideal. Would I choose raw or gently pasteurized milk first? Yes. But it’s not exactly widely available, so I happy load my cart up with Organic Valley and Stonyfield milk, knowing that it may not be the nectar of the gods but at least I’m steering clear of growth hormones and antibiotics.

  8. Jack says

    Wow, I didn’t realise all the milk you guys get in America is UHT. In europe, refridgerated milk is ‘fresh’, and UHT is on non-refrifgerated shelves.
    BTW, I agree UHT tastes bad, but it’s not true you can’t use it for yoghurt, i works fine, if anything a little richer than fresh milk.

  9. D. Glassman says

    Please note who attacks UHT milk…those who compete with this technology. There is nothing wrong with UHT milk products even those products that use radiation preservation I am not in the milk industry and have no vested interest on either side. Those who state UHT is bad and suggest its not good for our health are liars. When these farmers who attack such products go into this area themselves they will sing a different tune. UHT is find, I have been drinking it for years and in some cases its better for those who have issues with other milk products. There are many papers stating its a solid and logical way to distribute milk.

  10. Max Welsh says

    YES to the above comment. The quote from the farmer in this blog post is BS, proteins are digested by proteases that don’t depend on the molecular shape – there are far too many types of protein for this to even be possible. And “leaky gut” is a disease with autoimmune and bacterial causes that has absolutely nothing to do with drinking milk. UHT milk does not pose a health risk, and by the very fact that it is UHT and has less microbial contamination, it’s probably SAFER.

    Just be upfront about it: you don’t like UHT milk because it tastes different. …and maybe because it seems “unnatural” for it to not need refrigeration. Both of these are preferences. There is nothing wrong with UHT milk, just like there’s nothing wrong with asparagus no matter how much I dislike it.

    Also, raw milk may taste awesome, but the refrigeration costs and waste involved in having every city-dweller in america drinking raw milk would be enormous (not to mention the environmental impact). So until the day when they breed cows to be pets, maybe some people (read: most of the US population) will just have to settle for milk that’s been decontaminated. And come to think of it, you’d probably find a reason to hate on the milk from pet cows too.

    • says

      Reason and common sense. Modern man is so confident of his own safety that he forgets it has been achieved through technology and science, and somehow has come to distrust both.
      There is nothing wrong with UHT or pasteurised milk, and it is Safer. Period.

  11. says

    Max –
    Sorry to disagree with you, but you’re way off-target on this one – and your arguments just don’t hold water.

    1. Yes, UHT milk is more difficult to digest for many people than fresh raw milk or even vat-temp pasteurized milk. As an added insult since it is free from beneficial bacteria and does not support their growth, it cannot be properly cultured. It’s beneficial bacteria that line our gut that help the human body to develop appropriate immune responses, to manufacturer vitamins and to digest macronutrients. UHT milk doesn’t support this process, and people drinking UHT milk in lieu of fresh milk will be operating at a loss.

    2.Taste is a personal preference. You may like the thin texture and the cooked flavor of UHT milk, and great for you if you do. But from a culinary perspective, it’s relatively worthless. Sure, you can put it on your cereal, but there’s little else you can do with it. You can’t even make cheese from it, not because the cheese tastes bad, but because it won’t clabber and won’t foster the growth of the beneficial bacteria necessary to do so.

    3. With raw milk, transportation costs are fewer – and even refrigeration costs. UHT milk, despite the fact that it has been so denatured that it can sit on the shelf at room temperature for months, is STILL transported in refrigerated trucks. It’s STILL sold from refrigerated cases. And when people crack open a carton, they still need to refrigerate it. Not to mention it’s still processed through a cooling tank at the farm, and in cooling trucks to the dairy before it’s heat-treated and bottled (or, rather, put into waxed cardboard cartons that may be recyclable in some areas but are not reused).

    That’s a heck of a lot more wasteful than the milk that comes from my dairy which goes into a cooling tank, into reusable glass jars, into a cooler, into my hands and into my fridge for a week. Way more efficient.
    .-= Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen´s last blog post …A Recipe- Coconut Flour Cake with Coconut Frosting =-.

    • Tatjana says

      Well, unless you have a cow in your backyard, you don’t really know what you are drinking “in your milk”, they don’t write on the package what a farmer has been feeding the cow…. Good luck to all of you! And I will enjoy whatever I wish…..

    • RealitiCzech says

      Most of Europe has used UHT milk for drinking, cooking, and more for decades, and has not seen mass death, dismemberment, or defects as a result. You are woefully ignorant.
      “It’s beneficial bacteria that line our gut that help the human body to develop appropriate immune responses”
      Pseudo-scientific nonsense. Only ancient Europe was silly enough to think drinking cow’s milk was a genius idea (most non-Europeans have some level of lactose intolerance, Europe seemed to weed the gene out over a few thousand years). Cow’s milk (organic or non, pasteurized or raw) is in no way a ‘necessary’ thing for anyone’s health, or most of the world would’ve died off from lack of it thousands of years ago (see Africa and most of Asia). You run across millions of bacteria in daily life. If you’re worried about weakening your immune system, don’t wash your hands so often, then you’ll get plenty of bacteria.

    • HillbillyBill says

      Oh boy, can I take a ride in your time machine? fresh milk in glass jars–The ice wagon delivers ice for your ice box too, I’ll bet? Never mind Charlie — I’d love to be in Jenny’s shoes, that’s where I’d like to be!

    • Jacked says

      This is pure nonsense:
      “since it is free from beneficial bacteria and does not support their growth, it cannot be properly cultured. It’s beneficial bacteria that line our gut that help the human body to develop appropriate immune responses, to manufacturer vitamins and to digest macronutrients. UHT milk doesn’t support this process, and people drinking UHT milk in lieu of fresh milk will be operating at a loss.”

      UHT pasteurized milk is fully capable of supporting bacterial cultures for cheese or yogurt.

      As for UHT milk somehow depleting our gut of its endogenous flora, that is simply untrue. Our microbial flora reproduces fine regardless of the bacteria in our milk, or even if we consume no dairy products at all. It is self-sustaining as long as we eat a balanced diet and avoid milk and meat contaminated with antibiotics. As long as one buys organic milk from cows that aren’t juiced with antibiotics, his or her gut flora will be fine.

  12. says

    @ Max Welsh

    It drives me nuts when people post arguments with no sources backing up their statements. Not that you have to write an annotated bibliography, but come on — you just make several claims with no supporting statements:

    You can’t just say someone is wrong — you have to say why.

    The quote from the farmer in this blog post is BS, proteins are digested by proteases that don’t depend on the molecular shape – there are far too many types of protein for this to even be possible.

    Please explain.

    And “leaky gut” is a disease with autoimmune and bacterial causes that has absolutely nothing to do with drinking milk.

    Please elaborate. What are you basing this statement on?

    UHT milk does not pose a health risk, and by the very fact that it is UHT and has less microbial contamination, it’s probably SAFER.

    Proof, please, showing how UHT milk is safer.

    Also, raw milk may taste awesome, but the refrigeration costs and waste involved in having every city-dweller in america drinking raw milk would be enormous (not to mention the environmental impact).

    Huh??? We’ve been refrigerating our milk for decades. I doubt you are going to convince Americans to stop using refrigeration so this argument is just plain silly.

    She makes a good point that nobody would buy the stuff if it was sitting out on the shelf.

    So until the day when they breed cows to be pets, maybe some people (read: most of the US population) will just have to settle for milk that’s been decontaminated. And come to think of it, you’d probably find a reason to hate on the milk from pet cows too.

    Um, OK this is based on what exactly? People will have to settle for UHT milk because… why? Please back up your claims.
    .-= Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE´s last blog post …Giveaway- Enter to Win a Le Creuset Stockpot 55 value =-.

  13. says

    Kristin, thank you for bringing to light the realities of UHT milk. In Spain, particularly the larger cities, most of the population drinks UHT milk sold warm in boxes. I did not realize until this year that UHT milk can very well be sold warm in the States, however, the public would probably freak out to realize their milk is shelf stable for 6 – 9 months! Common sense people… common sense should let us know that ingesting something that doesn’t spoil for months…. which appears to be food, can’t be good for our bodies. It’s no wonder that most Spaniards claim to be lactose intolerant and claim to have problems digesting milk. Hmm… in the times of raw milk (my mother’s generation), the problems of digesting milk weren’t there. There were no problems! Sigh…. before the times of adulterated food, we didn’t have to think scientifically when it came to food. We just used a little bit of common sense.

    Thanks Kristin!! Loved this!
    .-= Diana@Spain in Iowa´s last blog post …Giveaway Winners and Things to Come =-.

  14. Janelle Hoxie says

    Obviously, the people that are saying there is nothing with UHT have an agenda! Just like we who support raw milk will go to sites of people who are saying raw milk is bad and try to convince them otherwise. Except we know the facts!!! No one can thrive on overly cooked and processed milk.

    • Jessica says

      “Just like we who support raw milk will go to sites of people who are saying raw milk is bad and try to convince them otherwise. Except we know the facts!!!”

      Sooo, you know the facts but no one else does? How do you not see the flaw in that type of thinking?

  15. tina says

    Why isn’t UHT milk on the regular shelves in the US? Because no one in the US would buy milk that wasn’t refrigerated! That’s why! They have to keep it in the coolers and make the masses think that it’s still like the milk their great grandparents drank – but it’s nothing like the grass-fed, raw milk of the olden days, is it? No, it is not. It’s a junk food like everything else sold by the big food industry.

  16. Kim says

    haha I pity uneducated people. I’m sorry but there is something terribly wrong with milk that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. I prefer my food just the way God intended it. UHT and other processed products will be the death of America because of uneducated people relying on a corrupt government and food industry to tell them what to eat. My prayers go out to you!

    • Hannah says

      ‘The way God intended it’? Correct me if I’m wrong, but if God intended milk to be refrigerated, then why do human babies drink body temperature milk directly from their mother? Or do you believe that even mothers’ milk should be refrigerated? And people obviously survived drinking unrefrigerated milk before refrigerators were even invented. Also, labeling others as uneducated before stating something you want them to believe is not exactly the way to convince people of your ideas and thoughts. Think before you speak, if you truly are ‘educated.’

  17. Angela says

    Saying that yoghurt or kefir cannot be made from UHT milk is simply incorrect! Unfortunately raw milk is unavailable here legally (on this Spanish island where I live) – so I have to make my yoghurt and kefir from UHT milk – which I’ve been doing weekly for the past year..

  18. David says

    I was living in Spain a few years back. After being healthy my entire life, a few years back my family and I began to get flu-like symptoms and a low-grade fever, a situation that lasted for months. We spent a great deal of time eliminating possible causes, thought in terms of an allergy or food toxin or some transmitted disease, but discovered that a UHT low-fat milk we were using in tea was the cause when my young daughter drank a glass instead of the whole milk we were using for drinking. She immediately became extremely ill with vomiting and ran a 41Cº fever for three days, a fever we had to keep down with compresses day and night. Since, we had more than a few experiences of the same type, and were heating the milk to just below boiling for three minutes to save ourselves the agony of more illness, even though it was my understanding that we were denaturing both proteins and vitamins(although UHT had probably done that denaturing already). It is a great pity Americans are being subjected to the same profit-motivated regulations as in Europe, where UHT is king, where the EU apparently is about to permit feeding animal protein to cattle, chickens, pigs, etc. once again, even after the mad cow disaster extended by government subsidies to the industry in the past. So soon it will be mad cow, mad pig, mad goat, mad turkey…. Ignorance in the political class and a subservient press is the cause. Doing things right and honestly and investigative reporting are things of the past in the US and have never existed from what I can judge in Europe. There, excess milk production is poured into the ground, not converted into dried milk and cheese for the poor as in the US, and there I am told but haven’t verified, milk returned from stores can be reprocessed and repackaged to be resold! If you compare labels the nutritional data indicates that the natural vitamin value of milk is destroyed by the UHT process, and in products specifically for children a short list of vitamins is added…but I suspect that a long list of other necessary vitamins and nutritional compounds found in fresh milk simply do not get into the diet of many people. Medicine has to be free when illness is government policy.

  19. Mike says

    I like the taste of UHT milk. I wish I could buy Parmalat here so I could keep it on the shelf at work until I need to open it. That way I would have less of a problem with the milk I buy going bad before I drink it. I am sure that raw milk in general is healthier but what I really want most is to have the CHOICE…

  20. Brian says

    I recently purchased milk at Target under the Market Pantry brand (their own brand, I believe). It had about 12 days until expiration on it at time of purchase. When the date on the milk arrived, we continued to drink it, as there was no smell or consistency issues. 3 days out of date we stopped drinking it but left it in the fridge. Another week passed and it still did not smell nor did it curdle. I then took it out of the fridge and set it on the counter. That was 3 days ago. Still, no smell or no curdling.

    I contacted Target and they claimed to be surprised by all this. I was also advised not to drink it, something which I most assuredly had no intention of doing. Still, they gave me no answers.

    I has become clear to me that the milk which I drank was UHT, even though I could not detect any difference in taste between this and other locally purchased milk, milk which typically does not survive it’s expiration date. I’m angry because I was not informed of this on the container. I would never have purchased it had I known .

    Let this be a warning to those of you who buy milk at Target or who buy milk under the Market Pantry brand name. You may very well be getting UHT milk without knowing it.

  21. Chris says

    You people are crazy. How can you possibly think that the bacteria found naturally in cow milk is completely safe for human consumption? All milk contains growth hormones. So a mother that breastfeeds her child is giving them growth hormones found in her body. Does it make sense to drink the growth hormones found in a cow? I didn’t think so. Not to mention all the other bacteria that we were never meant to handle.

    This is why we have modern practices such as pasteurization and UHT. Heating milk to 260 is a pretty safe way to kill off bacteria. True it doesn’t contain the enzymes that allow us to properly digest raw cow milk, but that is the only harm it is causing. If you consider that a harm.

    • herojig says

      That’s so true. I love in Nepal where raw milk is very freely available, in fact, in most places the only milk for sale. But there are a lot of problems causes by this. When I get a box of UHT, I feel like I am getting a treat.

  22. joanna says

    Interesting article. I moved to Spain four years ago from Texas and didn’t drink milk for quite awhile because I could only find the UHT milk on the shelf. I found that “some” stores carry fresh milk but it’s super expensive and not readily available. UHT milk in Spain does not taste bad nor does it smell bad. I’ve used it in my cereal for years now without incident. It seems to last forever, which is strange to me, but it is nice not to have to buy milk every few days. However, I no longer drink milk by itself, not because it tastes bad; I think it’s all in my head. Every once in awhile I will buy fresh milk if I need to drink it. So, I doubt it’s unsafe considering most Spaniards live much much longer than Americans.

  23. alex says

    Whatever, tastes fine to me and I don’t need to buy new milk every week. So what if it “alters” some of the nutrient content. It’s not like you look to milk to get all of your nutrients in one day anyway. If you ARE then you should think about switching since too much calcium is bad for you. My father used to drink a lot of milk daily till he got a kidney stone.

    Anyway, I think all of you are making a much bigger deal than it should be

  24. Harry Watkins says

    I live in the Philippines until UHT milk from New Zealand there was almost no milk avalable. I have been useing a 2% UHT milk for more than 3 years and do not find any difference from the 2% milk we drank in the U.S.

  25. Janelle says

    I just read on the Daisy brand website that their products are pasteurized and homogenized, actually I found out most sour cream brands are homogenized!! I thought this was not possible! This really irritates me because I stay away from conventional milk products not only because they come from factories but because they are homogenized and I thought cream and butter were not! Can anyone explain why they have to do this??

  26. Alan says

    Not to be mean, just stating some things to think about:

    The type of milk you drink is a preference. Freedom of choice.
    Just because something is different does not make it bad.
    If you use raw milk to cook what do you think happens to it when you bake it at 300 degrees? The same as Pasteurization.
    Milk (even raw milk) is an insignificant source of enzymes and vitamins in your diet. Milk is significant for protein and calcium.
    Pasteurization is not a conspiracy, it came about in the 1800’s to eliminate sickness caused by milk. Statistics prove that this has worked.
    If everyone went back to raw milk all of these diseases would return.

    One last item to look into. You would be amazed at how many people did the raw milk thing for awhile including buying a share of a cow, and after a couple of months quit because of getting sick. Including 2 of my friends.

    If you like raw milk than drink it and enjoy, but there is no need to beat up on the other people that use other products.

    Thanks

    • Mary says

      Good that you spoke up, Alan! You’re right — these nutritional choices are a personal decision. Instead of arguing, we should be educating — and allowing others to make their choices based on the facts. That’s one good thing about this site — people are being educated. It’s good as long as we aren’t offensive to others and that we are getting the truth. One particular choice may be good for someone; but often that same choice is not the best for another. Thanks for speaking up, and especially for being pleasant when presenting your opinion.

  27. I_Fortuna says

    UHT milk tastes great and lasts in our frig for days. It lasts much longer than the milk from the market frig. This is good for us as there is no waste. We are always able to use the amount in the carton in a timely manner. This milk is also good for making yogurt. One does not necessarily need to heat before adding the culture only after in the sun until is warms well then can be kept at room temp until thickened. I would use whole organic milk for children and infants though because they can use the extra calories and vitamins. I would not use raw unless the milk is from my own animals.

  28. says

    We have a cow and after milking we boil the milk before drinking it, therefore paterizing it, this is the only way I would really drink it.
    I agree with Alsn if people want to drink raw milk and it works for them, fine we should just stick to what suits us and let others enjoy what suits them.

  29. says

    It is not true that you cannot make yogurt or kefir from UHT milk. I have done so many times. It will culture just fine. Even Organic Lactose Free milk works great to make yogurt.

    Not saying it is GOOD milk, or GOOD yogurt, but it does work. Try it yourself.

    I have Crohn’s. I can drink raw milk without digestive problems. I cannot drink commercial pasteurized and homogenized milk. It gave me belly aches, and I ended up calcium deficient in spite of drinking quite a bit of milk and eating plenty of fresh veggies. Raw is definitely healthier than pasteurized, if it is not subjected to mishandling and exposed to factory farm superbugs.

  30. says

    Hello I do love this blog and have today just received my first kefirgrains. The lady who sold them to me said to use only UHT milk but couldn’t explain why, I believe it’s microphobia as many people in Holland have it, everything must be sterilised to death especially if babies are involved. Can you see any other reason she might have suggested this? She also said to rinse the kefir and sterilise everything before making each batch but I thought rinsing them was not so good? Maybe you can shed some light on the situation. Thanks! Cat

  31. Alexis says

    I’ve noticed, from my first tast of UHT milk, that I had intolerance symptoms, but I just thought that it was my body with a bad reaction to “milk”, I had not related “UHT” and “intolerance” until a couple of years back; nevertheless, what amazes me is that all of them disappear when using lactose-free UHT milk (there’s no other choice for this product in my country of living). I know that I’m not “lactose intolerant” as yoghurt and cheese are not giving me any problem at any time, so, after reading your blog (I just thought “I knew it!”) I’m not really sure about:
    – What are those “lactose-free” UHT milk products?
    – which is the relation between the degradation of casseine and lactose freeing process applied to milk?
    – Will the regular pasteurized or boiled milk have the same problems that ultra pasteurized milk has?

  32. Greg says

    Seriously, you people have food paranoia.

    The only down side of UHT milk is that it tastes horrible to most people.

    So heating milk to high temperatures alters the structure making it harder to digest leading to digestion problems? It’s true that heating any food alters it’s molecular structure, that’s essentially what cooking is, that’s why the food changes colour and tastes different when it’s cooked. But the theory heated milk is hard to digest is just someone’s guess. The only evidence for this given in the article is about people with leaky guy disease. Who has leaky gut disease? Not me, and not you, so why worry?

    What about the raw milk you put in your tea and coffee? You are adding milk to a boiling drink which is around 100 degrees C. So basically that milk’s molecular structure is going to change as well.

    And yoghurt? When you make yoghurt from milk what’s happening? The molecular structure is changing. Is yoghurt therefore harder to digest than milk?

    At the end of the day, UHT milk is clearly “safer” than raw milk because it’s been so thoroughly pasterised and is therefore less likely to have any potentially harmful bacteria in it. Naturally occurring bacteria isn’t the only stuff that can be in milk, other stuff could get in during the production. Either way, the risk is still extremely low and nothing to worry about.

    In conclusion the choice between UHT and raw milk for us normal people is about taste, cost and convenience.

  33. David I says

    A few simple points:

    –I agree that raw milk has beneficial properties that pasteurized milk does not have. That doesn’t mean pasteurized milk is bad for you. It means pasteurized milk is not as good for you.

    –Do heat your milk before making yogurt? Almost everyone heats it and then cools it before adding the cultures. If you do this, you have exposed your milk to far more heat than UHT pasterization does. UHT pasteurization holds the milk at very high temperatures for about a second and then rapidly chills it. Standard pasteurization heats it to a lower temperature (about the same as most people heat their milk to before making yogurt) for a few seconds. But when you heat milk on your stovetop and then let it cool, it is spending far more time at high temperature than in pasteurization.

    –Pasteurization does prevent milk from being used for certain cheeses. It does not prevent milk from being used for yogurt or kefir. I have doe it many, many times

    –The bacteria in kefir and yogurt eat the sugars in the milk, not the proteins or enzymes. In fact, kefir grains can be used to culture fruit juice as well as milk.

  34. Sandy says

    David, Thanks for the point about the temperatures at which yogurt is made. I was wondering why this hadn’t been mentioned.

  35. Neil says

    I’m loving that I can buy UHT milk. I’m travelling for business, and I want my coffee in the morning and it costs like $15 for a decent cup in the morning from a business hotel.

    So I can make my own, but I need cream. UHT is the answer. It packs in my suitcase, and it will stay good for my entire trip.

    As for health, I read “The China Study”. Arguing about which milk is healthier is like arguing which type of nuclear reactor to build in your town. I haven’t found a substitute for cream in the coffee, or for really good cheese, but in general, milk isn’t really in my diet very much any more.

    • says

      Neil
      I think the China study hit upon some truths, but it is also true that people that do not eat the right animal products (see the work of Weston A Price) do not have the dental health of those that eat these animal products.

  36. T says

    You can make both yogurt and kefir from UHT milk. I do it all the time. Dollar Tree has quarts of UHT whole milk for $1, and both my homemade Greek yogurt culture and my kefir grains grow well and produce safe, edible products. Raw milk is undeniably better – if you’re drinking /raw milk/. If you plan to ferment it or culture it in any way, it doesn’t matter what kind of milk you use, it’s the culturing process that will produce the beneficial parts.

  37. Ellis says

    You mention not being able to make Yoghurt from UHT Milk. With The UHT milk available in the UK, it is entirely possible, indeed recommended by yoghurt machine manufacturers.

    I for one do not like the taste of UHT milk and, having consumed untreated milk in the past, would prefer that if it were an option. However, UHT, with its faults, also has its benefits. Todays homogenised, pasturised, filtered milks are already far too industrial. The UHT Procdess has little more effect on the goodness of the milk.

  38. John says

    Only an idiot would bash UHT milk. For those cultures that have grown up with it, it is a tasty part of a healthy diet. I regretfully grew up drinking regular milk and contracted Crohn’s Disease a decade ago. I avoid non-UHT milk whenever possible to avoid the harmful bacteria that may well have contributed to my chronic gut disease.

    • anon says

      You should check to make sure you’re not eating gmo corn or soy bi-products, this leads to gut issues (proven). Regular milk from corn/soy fed cows leads to this too, 80%+ all processed food has it in it and leads to inflammatory response and disease.

  39. Jerry says

    An additional question I have. Some organic milk companies “enhance” or add Omega 3, DHA, to their milk. This is done by adding the same type of vitamin fish oil pills you buy in the drug store. Except they don’t use fish oil they use vegetable based Omega 3. Question is, Are the additives they are putting in the milk organic?

    Not a big deal but I think people who drink it should be assured the vegetable oil being added to their milk is organic.

  40. Helen says

    Just to reiterate what others have said above, you CAN make yoghurt from UHT milk (or at least, the brands that I buy in the UK), I make it on a daily basis and see our daily yoghurt as a foundation for gut health! It can’t be completely dead if it undergoes this process can it? I would not drink UHT milk, but then I don’t drink any milk unless it has been turned into butter, cheese or yoghurt as I find it much easier to digest these products. Yoghurt made from UHT milk is delicious!!!

    Have really enjoyed some of these articles. We will not always agree on what is good for us, each person has an individual and personal health journey, but many thanks for firing the debate!

    Namaste :)

    • says

      Helen
      Would you agree that fresh fruit and vegetables are better for you than heated and canned vegetables?
      The heating kills all of the enzymes and destroys much of it’s nutritional value.

      Don’t you think the same thing happens with milk?

      BTW all sorts of things that are awful for us “taste delicious”. If taste were the only criteria I would have a 5 pound canister of MSG in my kitchen – but I know better.

  41. humm says

    Did you ever consider that drinking milk itself is kinda gross? I mean, you are drinking the bodily fluids of an animal that poops all over itself and its friends. Would you drink your friend’s breast milk? Probably not. Yet you will drink it a cow? Just a thought!

    I drink milk of all kinds, so I’m not trying to antagonize. It just seems a bit silly that you all are so passionate about preserving the nature of milk, yet it is quite UNnatural that humans consume the bodily fluids meant for baby cows.

  42. Rody says

    Sorry man you don’t know what you’re talking about. I do prefer raw milk to pasteurized however, I make kefir from UHT organic milk all the time. In fact it cultures quicker than raw milk since there is no competing bacteria. The yeasts and bacteria in kefir only feed off of the lactose in the milk. My kefir grains are also growing very well in the UHT milk. On the other hand, if you want to make yogurt, the first step is to heat milk until it is relatively sterile (essentially pasteurizing) and then let it cool until you reach the proper temperature for the cultures to grow. If you don’t heat the milk, the starter will not be able to culture the milk and you will not be able to make yogurt.

  43. JayTee says

    I worked on a cruise ship with several Italians, and they love their morning cappuccino. After we took on a supply of UHT milk they found that it did not froth as nicely and mostly didn’t really froth at all. Boy did we hear a lot of colourful language during those weeks.
    Obviously UHT milk doesn’t always have a problem frothing. I think it was just that particular brand from Thailand or Malaysia.

  44. nicola says

    Thank you for this information. My toddlers grandparents insist on giving him UHT milk whilst he is at their house despite my pleas against him having this milk. As a child it would make me feel very sick and give me a headache if I drank. Since finding out that they use it too I have asked them not to give it to my son however they ignore my request and have continued to do so. Your site had provided me with information that I needed which I can print off and share with them to prove that this variety of milk really is quite unhealthy.

  45. John Foster says

    My sister works for the USDA checking cows at all the dairy’s for potential health hazards. And she says drinking raw milk has got to be one of the dumbest things you could do for your health. Even the grass fed cows have mexicans picking up tubes out of the cows shit and sticking on to the udders, you know where that fecal matter ends up? Sure its not a lot, but these are how diseases are born and spread. Just because you’ve been drinking raw milk for years without any problems just means your number hasn’t been called yet.

  46. says

    Thanks for this interesting read…as a mom w/ a toddler who mainly exclusively drinks organic milk, you are def. helping me think twice. does non-organic milk not go thru the UHT process?

  47. Kaiksow says

    I make excellent yoghurt with UHT milk. I mix skim and low fat 50/50. I use Activia as a starter, which I only use every 5th fermentation.

  48. Lazlo Toth says

    You lost me completely at “leaky gut syndrome” and the completely unscientific notion of “If a product will not support microscopic life, it is not likely to support human life.” (Well, you can’t culture bacteria on a plate of zinc, but zinc supports human life. I don’t think your logic follows at all.)

    I think I’m gonna keep buying UHT milk and pride myself on not having standards so hyperattenuated that I’m going to reject a food that is for all reasonable purposes harmless and tastes perfectly bloody fine to most of us.

    • Max says

      I agree. Anyways, milk pasteurized by any method CAN support microbial life which is HOW IT GOES BAD. Notice, pasteurized milk lasts longer before spoiling, not forever. Microbes are what cause spoiling…

  49. Will c says

    I drank uht milk for years. I was constantly at the drs getting endoscopes , blood tests etc. I had been on PPI medication ( lansoperozole) for years.
    I noticed when I went on holiday my condition improved.
    I stopped drinking uht milk and guess what? I am the best I’ve ever felt, all my symptoms have completely disappeared. No more medication.
    It seems strange to me that the incidents of oesophageal , bowel , stomach and intestinal cancers have exploded in the western world in line with an increase in more people drinking uht milk. Surely this warrents further investigation. In my opinion ( and I am still entitled to one I imagine), uht was the cause of years of Gastro intestinal upset and inflammation . I have the evidence to support it . No more medication. Higher energy levels , no inflammation , just for the record I am a non smoking very moderate drinker and a fitness instructor so my diet is A1.

  50. HSS says

    Your article states most milk in the US is UHT processed. Check yourself on that please. Most grocery store milk doesn’t taste “burnt”, and has merely been conventionally pasteurized, incapable of staying safe for consumption for 6-9 months….weeks at best.

  51. Janie Surinami says

    Wikipedia says that 7 out of 10 Europeans drink UHT milk. When I was in France 40 years ago that is all I drank. So it has been around for a long time. I would think that we would have figured out by now if it were truely bad for us. UHT milk does not need refrigeration. Think of all the energy (which is produced burning coal and oil) that we would not need to use if we didn’t refrigerate our milk while it is in transit and in the store.

  52. Carrie says

    I am an American living in Switzerland, where many people drink UHT milk and give it to their babies. It tastes absolutely fine to me. I can tell no difference between it and regularly-pasteurized milk. And the fact that the Swiss are SO much healthier than Americans tells me that there is no harm in drinking UHT milk instead of “regular” milk.

  53. M says

    I am interested in learning about the positives and negatives of UHT-treated milk, but stupidly absolute, easily falsifiable statements such as “Now consider this: you cannot make yogurt or kefir out of UHT milk, it is simply too dead to hold a culture. If a product will not support microscopic life, it is not likely to support human life.” make it difficult to judge what is a legitimate concern and what is hyperbolic scaremongering. I appreciate the passion in articles such as this, but unscientific generalizations negate credibility.

  54. says

    From Ontario Canada.
    My family recently went on a trip of a lifetime traveling around France for 6 weeks. We were shocked to find that fresh milk popularity so low. A few places did not stock it! The alternative was a choice of many UHT suppliers (1/2 an aisle). We tried many brands and our family did not like the taste. A couple of companies are trying to market UHT milk to Canadians. They will have a very hard time at doing this. That is unless the price comes down significantly. (3 times fresh)
    UHT milk in my opinion is only good in places where refrigeration comes at a premium. Canada is not one of them unless you are the remote north or camping?

    • Rebecca says

      Are you able to find raw milk in Ontario?? Or fresh milk? The best I can find is full fat, non-homogenized. But I was under the impression that the sale of raw milk was illegal, even through a CSA by buying parts of a cow….

  55. Frost says

    I wouldn’t follow the eating habits of a country whose #1 cause of death is heart disease. On the other hand, take Spain for example, where over 95% of the population consume shelf-stable UHT pasteurized milk–they boast one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world and extraordinarily low heart disease rates.
    The proof is in the pudding.

  56. Vanessa says

    So I was sold on this raw milk deal, until I read a CNN article saying that raw milk is a culprit for food poisoning and even caused two deaths AND cwused two healthy people to come down with debilitating diseases. Read excerpt below:

    “We have two people, in California and Pennsylvania, who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome [which can cause paralysis and respiratory failure] after contracting a bacterial infection called campylobacteriosis from drinking raw milk,” says John Sheehan, head of dairy safety at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “These were healthy, active people who came down with debilitating, lifelong diseases.”

    What is your response to this?? I believe that raw milk is better bc its hormone and antibiotic free, but I’m afraid of the bad bacterias that could be in it or the possible contamination. Maybe I’ll just go organic. I’m not sure. What are your thoughts??? Anyone??

    • Commenter says

      Raw milk is not necessarily antibiotic or hormone free. The atibiotics and hormones are given to the cow so that it produces more, and then they show up in its milk (even raw) and its meat.

  57. Commenter says

    How come you dont freak out when you buy a jar of pasta sauce, which stays good for years on a shelf? How about a can of tuna? Do you know how long meat has to cooked in a can for it to be stable? Do you ever question a jar of baby food? A can of soda? A juice box? (which is UHT treated by the way so you can freak out now!) is UHT the problem? Or your inability to cope with something new? I’m sure most scientists in this blog wouldnt hesitate to give their children jam (also cooked and processed food, kept in a shelf for months, god save us!) how about cheetos, chese whiz, ketchup, mayo? Are you banning those too? Dont forget they are also processed,so that they last months in a shelf, so they are the boogeyman too. Its a shame that a bunch of biggots come here to misinform people who may actually benefit from this product.

    • KristenM says

      Actually, I *do* “freak out” about those things, and I don’t buy them or feed them to my family.

      That’s, in fact, one of the main premises behind this blog.

      To read more about the philosophy that prompts the posts on this site, please read my About page.

      Also, please refrain from personal attacks. Trying to inform people about the industrialization of their food supply is NOT bigotry. Please read my comment policy for more on how I expect readers to conduct themselves in this site’s discussions.

      Thank you!

  58. cip says

    I have friends who make yoghurt out of UHT all the time, and they get a much better consistency than I do when I make out of regular milk. Go figure?!:!?! Could UHT be different depending on country? they are using Australian UHT…

  59. Dr Knows Best says

    There are so many wrong statements in this webpage, I don’t know where to start. While it is true UHT can change the taste or smell of milk, there is absolutely NO scientific evidence that it is less healthy then raw milk. “the casein itself is altered to the point of being indigestible!” UHT can alter the structure of milk proteins, but as one reader pointed out above, any form of heating will cause protein breakdown. This is what happens when egg whites are cooked and change from clear liquid to white solids. There is absolutely nothing harmful about this process. When proteins are ingested, whether animal or plant based, they are rapidly broken down into small peptides and simple amino acids by enzymes in the stomach and pancreas. The human body absorbs 99.9% of proteins this way. So it doesn’t matter if UHT breaks down proteins, it is just saving a step that would normally happen 30 seconds after drinking milk anyway. And here’s a link to a reference that actually works. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1176257/pdf/jcpsupproyal00002-0034.pdf

    • Paul Wilczek says

      With all the live enzymes dead from UHT the milk is hard to process in the body. The lactate enzyme makes digestion of raw milk possible. Too many people have an intolerance to dairy because pasteurization kills the live enzymes that help digest the milk. Fermented milk or cultured has great health benefits.

  60. WakeUpC22 says

    As many of the posters have pointed out, KristenM’s original statement about kefir is simply wrong in regards to UHT milk. It unfortunately makes me question the sources and the veracity therein about what is good and not good about UHT milk, though I have been biased towards raw milk because I have YET to find it here, and so I felt compelled to respond with what I know.

    From what I’ve seen and read the truth is in the middle. Wat we know and hear is biased towards what the press purports as the best. I’ve taken a nutrition class and you should NEVER EVER go with ONE method of thinking or ONE source for all your information even if it sounds good. For example, always going for grass fed beef sounds environmentally green on paper until you realize some aren’t locally sourced. Trader joe’s grass fed organic beef is flown from australia and not necessarily greener than the feedlot beef processed within state. So labels are one thing while knowing WHERE your beef comes from is another.

    Also NO ONE has conclusive, sweeping, end all be all long term conclusions on the effects of GMOs, animal products from animals eating GMOs, as well as processed foods. Which means you ultimately cannot claim it is good or bad and means we are unfortunately using our bodies as testing grounds. More on that later as I have found my own conclusions on this matter.

    What you can be assured of however is that the FDA, USDA, etc. will do their utmost to conceal bad press so long as it meets their long term goals. I say this confidently because the government has, in the 1900’s, hidden many detrimental facets about certain foods and pesticides to further their bottom line. They have been downright evasive on the GMO debate, biased towards conglomerates such as Dean Foods on their “organic” certification, and proven by the independent media, such as Food inc, to be ethically deficient and lazy.

    The first is the fact that the food pyramid is woefully outdated and based on a healthy 18 year old MALE while frankly being too carb heavy. Carb heavy diets have been proven by many in the general public as well as some in the scientific community, to cause long term obesity and yoyo dieting. A once committed vegetarian professor from stanford stated the superiority of atkins in this regard.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eREuZEdMAVo

    Also while during the 1800s food science has created Pastuerization which indeed helped curb diseases when raw milk used to sit at room temperature for DAYS. Well it’s not the 1800s anymore and yet this has never been updated. Refrigeration is the norm now, we are no longer afraid of getting poisoned by spoiled milk and we SHOULD have a choice to eat food that doesn’t come from commercial feedlots. And it is on those feedlots where unnatural death and disease is proven prominent.

    Raw milk supports local dairy but not big and to me this is the MAIN reason why the government is absolutely draconian towards raw milk farmers. By filling up the media and press with how raw milk kills they are effectively controlling your food choice in the name of science and health when the bottom line is profit.

    Pure and simple.

    What I learned is to always go into what you see on the news with open eyes but doubtful minds. Look for evidence and be able to back up your claim, or simply do what works for you. Without an open mind I would not have known I do best on the old traditional atkins (not the overly advertised new atkins) with whole foods as well as foods that are processed minimally. The short term ketosis then long term focus in favor of carbs from whole foods is a godsend on my health just not my taste buds. Abandoning pizza, chips, soda, etc. makes me drop weight instantly but being indeed addicted to carbs and bread makes me realize first and foremost my addiction, and secondly what my body needs and when it should be hungry. So I choose my health so to speak. I don’t always eat atkins because I’m human, but for my own health my own body, it is the best way for me to eat.

    On that note, regardless of your stance, you should ALWAYS support food freedom as freedom is not only the true, old fashioned American way, we are all different. I cannot do a vegan lifestyle but other people can. And frankly I don’t care if my neighbor chooses to live off cheetos and pizza hut so long as I am not forced to eat the same way.

    So regardless of how you feel, we cannot and should not outlaw something that other people can consume without harm including raw milk, grass fed beef, and herd sharing related foods. If we want to believe we’re a country that has food freedom we need to change ourselves.

    So yes though I disagree with some of the pro raw milk drinkers out there, i think it is absolutely unjust and unfair for the USDA and FDA to outlaw the practice based on century old findings.

  61. carrie says

    I have been a microbiologist for 21 years and the vast majority of problems come from organic milk. UHT milk is the absolute safest milk to drink. There are near constant outbreaks of disease associated with raw milk. If you want to be healthy, instead of a statistic, drink UHT milk and stop risking your life for no real reason.

  62. GuernseyHill says

    I grew up on a dairy farm consuming only raw milk and butter made from raw milk. I have spent my entire career working with dairy farmers in the U.S. and other parts of the world. I love dairy products of all kinds and varieties, flavors and textures, fresh and aged.

    UHT is a necessary tool to provide high quality dairy products to the world’s population.

    In some of the regions where I worked (Africa, Central America, Eastern Europe), refrigeration on the farm, in trucks, at retail stores, in the home does not exist in the same way as North American consumers expect and take for granted. Refrigeration in many parts of the world is not always as effective at getting and keeping dairy products at the desired, ideal temperature for freshness and food safety. Hot outside temperatures, less efficient equipment, intensive-labor handling practices, frequent (sometimes daily) electrical outages, poorer road conditions and higher incidence of numerous diseases all combine to make UHT a best practice for fluid dairy products such as North Americans take for granted. I lived in Central America when my son was less than 2 years’ old. Without UHT products, there would have been no fluid milk available that I would have trusted to feed him. I learned to enjoy the slightly caramelized flavor of the milk. In Africa, I was infected with salmonella after drinking milk I “thought” was heated sufficiently to pasteurize it. It wasn’t. In the U.S., I worked with a farm family who were all exposed to Salmonella, and one family member died because they drank their own raw milk after they purchased replacement animals, some of whom carried the disease. The arrogance of the majority of the 314 million people living in the U.S. about “what they know is true” along with their utter ignorance about how most of the remaining 6.7 billion people live depresses me. Everybody on earth would benefit from highly nutritious, delicious and infinitely varied dairy products produced using technologies designed to provide the SAFEST food products possible.

    UHT is one of those technologies, and in my world view, an essential one.

  63. says

    Your link to the Weston Price foundation needs to be updated to,
    http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/ultra-pasteurized-milk
    I am searching for information on UHT Coconut milk. Thanks for this excellent article, I think the same thing must be going on here in Thailand – Meiji brand milk (http://www.cpmeiji.com/) will last for over a month in the refrigerator without going sour! I thought it must have been irradiated, but heat treatment may be more likely.

  64. Betty says

    You should be more worried about contracting mastitis and a host of other pathogens from drinking your precious raw milk, than the minor effects UHT processing has on other milks. What would you prefer….LTLT processing? Or does that not fit into your narrow field of milk vision as well?

  65. HillbillyBill says

    Well folks, milk is not the only food and not the cause of every ailment anyone may have. If you test allergic to casein or lactalbumin, just make sure you know which of these proteins in in whatever you contemplate eating. High heating removes most of the lactalbumin in milk, making it OK in cheese if that is what you are allergic to. Casein may be more difficult to be removed. Your allergy doctor should tell you these kind of things, but often don’t.

  66. HillbillyBill says

    Natural foods are generally a better choice than artificial food products – now called processed foods. Artificial foods began during WWII so that troops could carry such products as C rations and K rations and dry Tang they could mix with water on their body where there were no mess tents on the battlefields. The manufacturers found this type of food profitable and expanded upon it so that we now have these really super super markets full of products that did not exist at that time. We also have lots of maladies and allergies that did not exist at that time.

  67. MisaoAkiOlivier says

    I love raw milk and the taste. However I also like the taste of uth, I just wish they wouldn’t go around adding crud into it to get rid of the taste. It’s fine, it’s an acquired taste, just like sea urchin or rabbit.

  68. Kaitrin Davis says

    Thank you very much for your article. I moved 2 years ago nearby to a 2 cow dairy farm and have been hooked on raw milk since. I do occasionally buy “organic” milk when away from home or as back up. I even have some paramalat milk in the cabinet for a true emergency. I had no idea New Horizons used the same pasteurization methods as paramalat. It is actually quite shocking to me. Thanks for your research and enlightenment.

    What is saddest to me is how raw milk is how regulation raw milk farmers have to put up compared to how much mass producers of milk can get away with hiding.

  69. Lauren W says

    This is a really interesting and informed article, however milk being organic doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the UHT/ ultra-pasteurization process. Organic, raw milk is available, as is non-organic UHT milk. Organic refers to a) the food the cows are fed and b) the steroids/ antibiotics/ hormones (or lack thereof) involved in both the rearing of the cows and the ingredients of the milk. ‘Organic’ is a completely separate thing from ‘UHT’ as both can stand alone and, reading this article, I would assume you take issue with the UHT part, rather than the organic.

  70. Tony M. says

    I lived for around ten years in south America and other five years in Europe.
    I have tried different brands of Ultra Pasteurized milk.
    I see the American producers have think amateur trend on the process. First there is no official regulation on contrast to Europe or some countries in south America.
    Still UHT milk for example from Uruguay said the label to refrigerate.Also it had a very milky smell.
    I think people forget the chain of events on nutrition of cows.
    In US cows can be fed from chicken crap processed with beef meat reprocessed. So Organic means nothing in US.
    On the other hand countries like Argentina; Uruguay; Korea and Japan..they push free range grass feed for cows in milk production.
    Parmalat milk was so much better than US milk. Also Conaprole (Uruguay) had the better taste..which reflects high ISO standards on the production.
    Now..why last longer..?
    When you get milk from a cow. .you will get germs when you boil it and you will kill them. Simple as that. I could explain the microbiology of the germ cycle but no need..most here wouldn’t know what is a Petri prep.
    Now why some companies produce crappy milk..
    *Bad nutrition. .from antibiotics to unbalanced feeding…yes non grass fed cows.
    *Bad equipment. The proper equipment consists on a series of tiny tubes with a heating element where milk is pushed..which can be under high pressure which makes milk very foamy for air pushed. Then on the other side there are the same tiny tubes where is chilled.
    Food after heated needs to drop fast to refrigerated temperatures. Most food service professionals now this.
    Sadly in US. Lack of regulation has cost so many life’s from “tainted peanut butter” to “tainted milk”…
    Sadly Our congress has no interest in regulation.

  71. T says

    If something is indigestible, it doesn’t get absorbed in your intestines. If it doesn’t get absorbed in your intestines, it never enters your bloodstream. If it never enters your bloodstream, you never get a “chronically overstressed immune system”. Lee Dexter: likely not a reliable source (ref: http://www.austinpost.org/article/local-farm-plagued-legal-problems). The only people vulnerable to this response would be “leaky gut” individuals (if such a thing even exists). Those rare “leaky gut” people would likely already be aware of their situation and avoid these foods BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO EAT FOOD TO LIVE FROM THE DAY YOU’RE BORN.

  72. Bill T. says

    I don’t believe all this stuff. Sure, the FDA makes mistakes sometimes, as does the USDA. But, according to them, regular store-bought milk is fine. So is UHT milk, or they couldn’t sell it in the USA. After all, the same officials who approve our foods consume them! Who would do that? Too much paranoia in the world today! Drink your milk and enjoy it.

  73. Kirsh says

    I lived in Europe for many years, and while most milk there is fresh some people do use UHT. I have to say that sometimes I prefer the taste of UHT over plain regular milk. In tea, for example, it imparts a unique taste that I find myself craving from time to time. Perhaps nostalgia plays a role in it, but I’m glad it exists.

  74. Lorinda says

    My daughter is 24 and recently developed an allergy (she has never been allergic to anything before) We suspect that it coud be longlife milk or something in it that causes the allergy as this is the only change she has made to her diet (she used to stay at home where we never used longlife milk and now lives on her own and now only uses this stuff) Her lips swell up like balloons and she gets these itchy red blotches. My question is how long does it take after she stopped using this milk for all traces to be out of her system? She stopped using this milk about a week ago but still has the symptoms. Any comment or advise will be greatly appreciated.

  75. Lenny says

    What about zoonotic diseases that can be contacted via drinking of raw milk? Where i live in the world zoonotic diseases are sometimes present in raw milk..the only way to absolutely guarantee the milk is safe is to use UHT. UHT milk is definitely safer for human consumption from a food safety perspective, ppl can get really sick from drinking raw milk.I much rather drink burnt milk than milk that may get me sick.

  76. says

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  78. Paul Ewing via Facebook says

    I don’t drink it often any more, but when I do I get it straight from the dairy a few miles away.

  79. Sophie Gublo-Jantzen via Facebook says

    Local pasteurized goat milk from a personal friend, or Almond milk in the off season

  80. Reignofblood Itsasecret via Facebook says

    i dont drink cow milk anymore.. gave up.. too hard ive tried most of the alternate milks hated them all.. the only one i could kinda handle an now used too it oat milk. but its not nice in tea, if ur a tea drinker, and it not a milk too use in bechemal (white cheese sauce), its foul.. lol just for the record.. mostly just use the milk for coffee and occassionaly cerial.

  81. Amber Vargo via Facebook says

    Just skip the milk in general, you don’t need it at all. And if kids drink too much milk it can cause internal bleeding…

  82. Peg Danek via Facebook says

    I love raw milk. UHT milk is dead dead dead. I tried to make yogurt with it and it just won’t culture. Raw milk makes the best yogurt I’ve ever had.

  83. Brandis L Roush via Facebook says

    Raw goat when I can get it (most of the summer). Non UHT grassfed organic non-homogenized cow milk the rest of they year. I don’t really like the cow milk so I don’t drink much of it, but my daughter, who reacts to conventional milk, can drink the cow milk above with no issues.

  84. Liisa Mackey via Facebook says

    We JUST started drinking raw milk yesterday. I’m so excited to have found a local farm that sells it. We will be picking some up every week while on the way to pick up our organic CSA fruit and veggie shares. So lucky to live in an area where I have access to these wonderful things! Raw milk tastes divine. I can’t wait to start making my own dairy with it…kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, butter, etc.

  85. Sam Stanton via Facebook says

    I drink local raw grass-fed milk but now I am scared after hearing reports of roundup ready grass ):.

  86. Ginny Meyerhuber via Facebook says

    Ok, we don’t drink raw milk here, and would like to know a good brand of Organic to buy? It really opened my eyes to read about the UHT pasteurization. I am trying to get my daughter (16 months) to drink cow’s milk, and would like to start off on the right path! Thanks to anyone with advice.

  87. Bethany Burgess via Facebook says

    I don’t have access to raw milk and it is so hard to even find any that aren’t uht in the grocery stores. Makes me sad. Going to have to look harder.

  88. Concerned says

    We make Kefir using UHT Organic milk…does anyone have any feedback on the food value of the UHT impact on Kefir production? Does the Kefir help/worsen this situation?

  89. Hap says

    Hummm. Can I point out that humans have been consuming cooked milk for thousands of years (and probably longer)?

    People didn’t have the luxury in the past of eating lots of foods in separate states. It was very common for the food to all be put into a soup or stew. Anyone who had milk at all considered themselves to be extremely lucky, and this would very often have been added to such a cooked concoction.

    I also suspect that people in the past weren’t clueless about the health risks of consuming raw milk as-is, and probably, just as they did with local water sources (which were also often risky), they used various methods to treat the milk, cooking being probably the easiest.

    • Peter Kramer says

      Surprisingly, old-fashioned cooking of milk reduces immunogenicity of alpha-lactalbumen and beta-lacoglobulin, but UHT processing is not “cooking”, and the effects are vastly different, if not nearly opposite. See, Roth-Walter, et al. Pasteurization Of Milk Proteins Promotes Allergic Sensitization By Enhancing Uptake Through Peyer’s Patches. Allergy 2008: 63: 882–890.

  90. Peter Kramer says

    I’ll believe that UHT milk proteins are undigestible as soon as I see actual experimental data rather than speculation on whether or not it is real and anecdotal comments from cyberspace.

  91. Peter Kramer says

    Also, pasteurization of milk has virtually no effect on the digestibility of casein, according to the published literature I have looked at. The protein nutritional quality of Fresh UHT is almost the same as pasteurized (which is in turn almost the same as raw). However, Recombined UHT milk is lower, and is ssignificantly lower after storage for six months. See for example, Alkanhal, et al. Changes in protein nutritional quality in fresh
    and recombined ultra high temperature treated milk during storage. 2001, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Vol. 52, No. 6, Pages 509-514.

  92. Peter Kramer says

    I should also mention that differences in immunogenicity for processed milks are not primarily due to changes in digestibility of various protein fractions. The effect on casein is negligible. However, absorption of aggregated alpha-lactalbumin,beta-lactoglobulin by Peyer’s Patches increases for heat treated milk. So immunogenicity changes due to heat treatment are not due to alteration of digestibility. C.f., F. Roth-Walter, et al. Pasteurization Of Milk Proteins Promotes Allergic Sensitization By Enhancing Uptake Through Peyer’s Patches. Allergy 2008: 63: 882–890.
    Peter R. Kramer, Ph. D.

    • Edgar Betancourt says

      More poorly documented hogwash. Allergies to milk resides in the fact that humans are not cows thus we are liable to suffer allergy from a host of foreign proteins and sacharides present in cows milk. In old times children with milk allergies were simply fed the milk from other animals, for example goats. At present they are treated with almost completely manufactured protein and sugar assemblies that hopefully include all essential nutrients (elemental formulas). The simplest way to eliminate the issue of milk allergies in babies is simple give them the milk they are supposed to eat, human milk. Again in old times if impossible from the mother that was provided by wet nurse. Human and cows milk are almost diametrically different, human milk is mostly fat, essential to us because or most important developing organ is the brain. Cows milk, on the other hand, is mostly protein to serve the needs of an animal that grows muscle at an accelerated rate but who’s brain needs are an afterthought. How the milk is cooked has little if any additional antigenicity to that already present form the difference in species.

  93. Edgar Betancourt says

    Im just amazed at how the internet facilitates anyone with a computer to blab nonsense about subjects they have no inkling about. UHT is MILK, it has all the nutrients that milk has, it has no additives and if taken from organically certified cows has no hormones and no antibiotics. Yes the taste is a little different, personally, I like the taste. It has the advantage that it can be stored at room temperature for 6 mths and refrigerated up to a year thus making excellent tasting milk essentially a non perishable product. Only a an ignoramus would believe, that raw milk, Which comes from the fecally caked teat of an animal containing listeria, bovine tuberculosis (Ever heard of Potts disease?) along many other nasties, would be a better idea. Raw milk tastes great until you get sick or someone dies from it, then its not so good is it? Since the raw milk mania has taken root the outbreaks of listeriosis and milk borne illness have increased ten fold. All completely unnecessary and costly in human and economic terms. If you want raw milk, get your own cow and have at it, otherwise, keep illness from everyone else’s food supply.

  94. Jeanette Kobak-Tartaglia via Facebook says

    So, what do you buy? Organic valley is my go to because I can’t always get raw milk.
    Are there even any regular grocery store brands that are not ultra high pasteurized?

  95. Gayle Roberts Krupin via Facebook says

    There are several brands that aren’t ultra pasteurized, just have to look at labels and for local brands. I think Organic Valley’s new grass fed milk is not. One offering is not homogenized as well.

  96. Regina Marie Petersen via Facebook says

    This disgusts me. Thanks for sharing, I will try to watch out for this when buying my milk from now on.

  97. Trish Truitt via Facebook says

    Me too. And even brands like Organic Valley do it. I try for raw but when I can’t get it I have a back up milk from a local farm that does SLOW pasteurization and NO homoginization! Grass fed in season too.

  98. Micah Peet via Facebook says

    Organic milk is more likely to be ultrapasteurized because the milk is harder to get, more expensive to produce and needs to keep long enough to be distributed over a larger area in order to reach the smaller customer base.

  99. Catharine Plummer via Facebook says

    UHT is not for our good at all its all about making milk products seem to last longer. It eliminates good “spoilage” like sour milk that is useful in cooking. I hate that all the milk and cream are uht now and I wish it had never been invented

  100. Alex says

    UHT makes up slightly more then 20% of all milk sold and consumed in Australia. Never have I or anyone I know had burnt milk.

    The reason for this is UHT milk is heated to 72°C (161.6°F) for at least 15 seconds, The longer time at a lower temperature lowers the chances of the milk burning while sterilizing the milk!

    In Australia by law UHT milk cannot have any additives unless it’s a flavored drink and then just normal milk flavorings and coloring’s that you would find in any floured milk drink (Strawberry, Banana, Ice Coffee etc).

    Unflavored UHT is 100% Milk with nothing added, The laws in australia are very strict about saying whats in our food and drinks!

  101. says

    I wish I had my own garden, cow and chickens. But I don’t. I will have a garden next year, I can buy eggs from a friend who raises them free range, but I have no way to buy any other of the recommended items. I also live 11/2 hours from the nearest grocery store that carries some organic products. What is a person to do? I am very confused.

  102. Crystal Mazey via Facebook says

    Now that I’ve been drinking raw milk for a few years, store bought stuff just looks really odd and tastes almost fake. Yuck! Lore- you can try looking on realmilk.com for raw milk sources in your area.

  103. Mary Light via Facebook says

    I hope access to raw dairy locally just continues to spread.. so many local economies in so many states would benefit, quite beyond the health benefits.

  104. says

    We usually use grass fed pasteurized at home, but lots of times I send my son to school with a whole milk version of this for afternoon snack since they don’t need refrigeration. Any ideas for other ways to send him milk to school that won’t risk spoiling?

  105. Kasey Erin Phifer-Byrne via Facebook says

    Sandra, could you just send it with a reusable ice pack? I’m sure next to a freeze pack it would be fine for the few hours between morning and afternoon snack.

  106. Meghan Ellwanger Moore via Facebook says

    yes! i know. i swear i was the only one who believed this. it is pretty much white water with calories by the time it is done with the ultra treatment. come on people.

  107. Michele Miller via Facebook says

    So if I can’t afford to buy raw milk then it doesn’t matter if I the milk I buy is organic or not? Neither one is better (or worse) than the other?

  108. Joel Caplan via Facebook says

    I have a local farmer who does low temp pasteurized non-homogenized grassfed milk. Or I can drive two hours for raw.

  109. Roxanne Rieske via Facebook says

    I buy Kolona and Organic Valley Grassmilk. Both organic, non-homogenized, and low temp pasteurization. Sorry, but I don’t trust most raw milk producers in my area and I can’t justify the cost anyway, and milk isn’t a staple of my diet.

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