Pasteurized milk keeps its nutrition: study

Milk that is pasteurized retains its nutrition, according to a recent bulletin from the International Dairy Federation based in Brussels, Belgium.

The bulletin is based on “an evaluation of the best available science” and confirms the health advantages of drinking pasteurized milk.

“We are pleased to present this new publication on pasteurization, a process that is crucial for the dairy sector and a major tool for public health protection,” IDF director general Caroline Emond said in a Feb. 20 news release.

Pasteurization increases the shelf life of milk and has “little impact on the nutrition of milk, including little impact on milk fat, protein, enzymes, vitamins or minerals,” the IDF said.

Milk is pasteurized by heating it to at least 72 C for 15 seconds or to 63 C for 30 minutes. This reduces bacteria and organisms that can cause human illness when consumed and can also contribute to spoilage.

The review of the science involved only milk from cows.

It is illegal in Canada to sell or buy raw milk, which has not been pasteurized. However, people can consume it from their own cows.

The issue has caused controversy in various Canadian provinces when people who prefer raw milk, in part because they consider it more nutritious, are unable to legally obtain it. However, Health Canada continues to advise against drinking unpasteurized milk.

“Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria that have been linked to foodborne illness (food poisoning) outbreaks,” Health Canada says on its website.

“These bacteria can cause serious health conditions, ranging from fever, vomiting and diarrhea to life-threatening kidney failure, miscarriage and even death.”

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