Milk is our first, and most basic food. It provides us with nutrients. However concerns have increased about the presence of pesticides even in mother’s milk.
The safety aspect of milk is of utmost importance as we drink it and give it to our kids trusting it to be healthy and safe, but we still don’t know if the milk we drink is pasteurized or sterilized, and what difference it makes to the shelf life, or whether we still need to boil milk at home?
What about Raw Milk?
In European countries like France and Switzerland, many people drink raw milk without pasteurizing and sterilizing it, but in India we cannot dare to do that as a large number of cattle are tuberculosis ridden and hygiene in milk transportation amongst neighbourhood doodhwalas is woefully lacking.
India is the largest producer and consumer of milk in the world, and many consumers prefer to buy loose milk from vendors thinking that loose milk is fresh but adulteration of milk with water, vegetable oils, detergents, urea, starch, blotting paper, is on the rise and more consumers are switching to branded pasteurised packaged milk.
Is Pasteurised Milk safe?
The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) says improperly handled raw milk is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalizations than any other food-borne disease outbreak, making it one of the world’s most dangerous food products. Diseases prevented by pasteurization can include tuberculosis, brucellosis, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and Q-fever; it also kills the harmful bacteria Salmonella, Listeria, Yersinia, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli among others.
By the process of pasteurisation, harmful germs are destroyed, but along with them useful germs are also killed, and some of the nutritious constituents are degraded. In India, due to bad logistics, milk is transported in ways that do not ensure maintenance of temperatures at which pasteurisation can continue to be effective, and when the milk reaches consumer’s homes, microbes have often multiplied making it unfit for human consumption.
Are consumers paying for plastic packaging and pasteurisation process?
Many Indian manufacturers continue to use outdated pasteurisation technology when compared to the US, EU, Australia and other developed countries. Consumers in those nations get safer milk ,treated and packaged with updated techniques, but many Indian consumers are still putting their own and their family’s health at risk every time they drink milk, a supposedly healthy food.
Even The FSSAI or the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India passed a recent order absolving itself of responsibility for safe delivery of milk once it leaves the manufacturing unit. This is a scary situation because in a country like India, plagued with bad roads and poor logistics, effectiveness of the pasteurisation technology is still dependent on temperature control.
The best milk is raw milk; however, we can not recommend it as there is a real risk of communicable disease including tuberculosis.
We recommend that consumers buy UHT milk sold in tetrapaks from reputed manufacturers to be safe. This milk does not need to be boiled again and can be drunk straight out of the pack.