The debate between pasteurised milk vs. raw milk has been a heated talking point (excuse the pun) for a number of years. In the past few years however, as the trend towards eating foods that have been as minimally processed and interfered with as possible continues to grow, supporters of raw milk consumption have grown dramatically.
So what are the main differences between the two?
Pasteurisation is done to destroy any disease causing pathogens that may be present in the milk, thus making it fit for human consumption. The process also destroys enzymes that would reduce the shelf life of the milk.
Pasteurisation subjects the milk to high temperatures of around 70 degrees Celsius for 15 seconds and is then quickly cooled back down. Milk can also be homogenised, which is done to break down fat molecules in milk so they resist separation. Without this process, the fat molecules would rise to the top of the milk and create a layer of cream.
Raw milk, on the other hand, is milk that has not been pasteurised. It is essentially coming straight from the cow, sheep or goat.
So what are the arguments for and against both raw and pasteurised milk?
- Destroys harmful microorganisms such as bacteria that could cause serious illness
- Bacteria that can cause souring are destroyed, giving pasteurised milk a longer shelf life
- Pasteurisation inactivates some enzymes in milk which are essential for nutrient absorption
- Other nutrients, such as Vitamin C, are reduced by pasteurisation while Vitamins B6 and B12 are destroyed
- Beneficial bacteria are also destroyed
- Full of healthy bacteria that are beneficial for the gastrointestinal tract
- High in omega-3 fats and low in omega-6 fats, which is the beneficial ratio
- Full of digestive enzymes, minerals, and vitamins in their bioavailable form
- Rich in healthy, unoxidised cholesterol
- The biggest argument against the consumption of raw milk is that it can carry many harmful bacteria and germs that could result in illness
- Bacteria such as E. Coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter are the most common infections
- Most common symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting, and in extreme cases, hospitalization may be required
Recently, an alternative to pasteurised milk has been proven safe for human consumption and approved for sale in Australia. It is a cold pressed raw milk that uses cold water pressure to eliminate any harmful bacteria, while still retaining most of the nutrients. Because of the high pressure processing that the milk needs to undergo, it is not technically ‘raw milk’, but it is the closest thing you’ll get to approved raw milk in Australia.
Related article: Got (almond) milk? An expert’s guide to alternative milks
While the nutritional profile of the milk seems to be better than that of pasteurised cows milk, it’s still too early to know whether the cold pressure sterilisation of milk is as effective as pasteurisation in terms of eliminating harmful bacteria. It does however seem to be the happy medium for now for those wanting to avoid pasteurised milk but who are afraid of the risks of raw cow’s milk.
Words by Katharine McCarthy & Lonny Szprinc
Katharine McCarthy is the Founder and Director of Australian owned and run cold press juicer company, Mod Cold Press. Lonny Szprinc is the company’s in-house nutritionist. Founded in 2015, Mod Cold Press was born as an answer to Katherine’s child’s distaste for fruit and vegetables. The Mod Juicer is a healthy kitchen companion, made unique by its 8cm wide super sized chute, reusable dried pulp, and sleek modern design. It juices fruits and vegetables with ease and can also make nut milks and sorbets.