Milk is a staple food in the diet of many countries around the world. It is a rich source of calcium, protein, and other vital nutrients. Recently, there has been an ongoing debate over milk. Yes, you read it right. The debate is over whether raw or pasteurised milk is the safer and more nutritious option.
Before we delve into the benefits of milk and how to consume it, let's take a look at the differences between raw milk and pasteurised milk.
Difference between raw milk and pasteurised milk
Raw milk comes straight from the cow, buffalo, goat, sheep, camel, or any other lactating animal. It is the type of milk that has not gone through any treatment and is “untouched.”
Pasteurisation is a heat-treatment process that involves heating a liquid to a specific temperature for a set amount of time in order to kill any harmful bacteria present in it and extend the shelf life of the product. This process was named after Louis Pasteur, who developed the technique in the 19th century.
Below are the significant differences between raw milk and pasteurised milk:
- The primary difference between raw milk and pasteurised milk is that raw milk is, well, raw, whereas pasteurised milk is treated.
- Raw milk is unprocessed, meaning it has not undergone pasteurization or homogenization and is in its natural state with all its inherent enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. In simple words, it is not heat-treated to kill bacteria and other contaminating products.
- On the other hand, pasteurized milk is heated to a specific temperature to destroy harmful bacteria and prolong the shelf life of the milk and is then cooled. The temperature used to pasteurise milk ranges from 63 °C (145 °F) to 138–150 °C (280–302 °F) depending on time.
- Since raw milk is not treated beforehand it contains harmful bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. These bacteria can cause serious illnesses, especially in young children, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems. It is not recommended for consumption by these vulnerable populations due to the risks associated with bacterial contamination.
- Whereas, pasteurised milk is considered better because it kills the harmful bacteria present in raw milk and makes it safer to consume.
- The milk available in markets and stores is pasteurised. There are many households, especially in India, where people buy raw milk straight from the milkmen. Though that raw milk is often boiled before consumption.
Raw vs pasteurised milk- Which one is better?
At the beginning of the article, we told you about the ongoing debate between raw milk and pasteurised milk. Many people have this belief that raw milk is the better of the two because it is “untouched” and contains all the good bacteria and nutrients. They also say that the heating process used in milk pasteurisation destroys its health benefits.
This is simply not true.
Healthline explains that this is not the case. 100 grammes of milk contain around 3.14 g of protein. 80% of this is casein, the globular protein found in milk. When milk is heated at high temperatures during the pasteurisation process, it does nothing to this casein since it is heat-stable.
Pasteurisation does not destroy the health benefits of the milk. It has almost the same nutritional benefits as raw milk; however, it does lower the risk that comes with consuming the latter. Though pasteurisation does not affect the nutritional value of milk, it can affect its taste and texture slightly.
Overall, the decision to consume raw or pasteurized milk depends on personal preference and risk tolerance. Some people prefer raw milk for its perceived health benefits, while others opt for pasteurized milk to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. While raw milk enthusiasts argue that it is more nutritious and has a better taste, health authorities recommend pasteurised milk as the safer option due to the risk of bacterial contamination in raw milk. It is important to factor in the benefits and risks before arriving at a conclusion.
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