UHT Milk or Fresh Milk? What’s the milk controversy?

Do you ever find yourself staring at the seemingly endless choices of milk at the grocery store, wondering what makes them last so long?

If not, you should start.

In many countries, pasteurised and UHT (ultra-high temperature processing) are the types of milk available on the market.  Milk processing has been implemented with two goals in mind: To destroy disease-causing pathogens and to prevent souring.

shelf milkPasteurised milk is heated to a minimum 72°C (161.6°F) for at least 15 seconds, in some cases between 30-60 seconds; whereas UHT milk is heated to a minimum 135°C (275°F) for at least 2 seconds.  Pasteurised milk has a shelf life of up to 15 days versus UHT milk can last 6 months. Read more about shelf milk at  Milk Unleashed.

There are certainly benefits to reducing harmful bacteria and other pathogens, but the fact is there is also good bacteria in milk.  The beneficial bacteria is called lactic acid bacilli and it protects milk from rotting. But, after pasteurization, the lactic acid bacilli are killed. The milk, in consequence, cannot become sour and quickly decomposes, while undesirable germs multiply very quickly.

Here are the Studies …

According to a report released by a British medical journal, Armchair Science, “Recent figures published regarding the spread of tuberculosis by milk show, among other facts, that over a period of five years, during which time 70 children belonging to a special organization received a pint of raw milk daily. One case only of the disease occurred. During a similar period when pasteurized milk had been given, 14 cases were reported”.

The processing destroys not only the bad but also the good, while destroying nutrients.  Pasteurization and UHT reduces calcium salts, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, many B vitamins, potentially inhibit growth, and may induce tooth decay (Source: Soil and Health Library).

UHT requires higher heat, which means that even more nutrients are lost.  Calories and calcium levels are the same between UHT and pasteurised milk, but UHT may have even less folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and thiamin.

“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: Weston A Price)

No wonder there is such an increasing number of dairy allergies, particularly to casein.  We are the only animals that drink another animals milk, and furthermore, that milk’s properties are being destroyed by high heat processing.  Our bodies simply cannot digest this milk!

While the milk on the shelf (unrefrigerated) is UHT, do not assume that the milk in the refrigerator is not.  Most consumers refer to refrigerated milk as “fresh milk.”  Milk companies have recognised that consumers feel better about buying milk that has been refrigerated than milk that has been sitting on the shelf.  The difference?  Not much, if any.  Clever marketing tactics put to work.  Many refrigerated milks are also UHT.


But where does organic milk fit into this picture?  

Organic milk may come from grass-fed, pastured, and hormone-free cows, which is a much better source of dairy.  Unfortunately whether milk is labelled organic or not, it will have been heat processed.  Most organic milks are going to be UHT both in the refrigerator or on the shelf.

So what should you do?  

Be an informed consumer!

Read all labels and compare from one product to the next, paying special attention to any additives, such as stabilisers, emulsifiers, and preservatives.  And be open to trying non-dairy alternatives, such as coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk, and quinoa milk.

This post is kindly contributed by Dr. Katrina Stehle, Chiropractor, Clinical Nutritionist, from The Wellness Chiropractic. Dr Katrina offers chiropractic care and nutritional consultation at her clinic, with a focus on preventive health. She has a strong passion in and works with many pregnant mums, babies, children. Simply because she believes our next generation can grow up healthy and develop optimally!