Earlier this week I started my little series on dairy. Since then I have been working on a follow-up but it seems like something has always come up, but to make it up to you all I am going to give an epic post today.
In the previous post I mentioned pasteurization. Here we are going to discuss what it is, why it was started, and basically analyze the shit out of it. According to Wikipedia pastuerization
“is a process which slows microbial growth in foods. The process was named after its creator, French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur. Pasteurization aims to reduce the number of viable pathogens so they are unlikely to cause disease (assuming the pasteurization product is refrigerated and consumed before its expiration date). Pasteurization typically uses temperatures below boiling since at temperatures above the boiling point for milk, casein micelles will irreversibly aggregate (or “curdle“). There are two main types of pasteurization used today: High Temperature/Short Time (HTST) and Extended Shelf Life (ESL) treatment. Ultra-high temperature (UHT or ultra-heat treated) is also used for milk treatment. In the HTST process, milk is forced between metal plates or through pipes heated on the outside by hot water, and is heated to 71.7 °C (161 °F) for 15-20 seconds. UHT processing holds the milk at a temperature of 138 °C (280 °F) for a fraction of a second. ESL milk has a microbial filtration step and lower temperatures than HTST. Milk simply labeled “pasteurization ” is usually treated with the HTST method, whereas milk labeled “ultra-pasteurization ” or simply “UHT” has been treated with the UHT method.
The HTST pasteurization standard was designed to achieve a 5-log reduction, killing 99.999% of the number of viable micro-organisms in milk. This is considered adequate for destroying almost all yeasts, mold, and common spoilage bacteria and also to ensure adequate destruction of common pathogenic heat-resistant organisms (including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis and Coxiella burnetii, which causes Q fever). HTST pasteurization processes must be designed so that the milk is heated evenly, and no part of the milk is subject to a shorter time or a lower temperature.”
This seems all well and good right? It destroys harmful bacteria, making contamination almost impossible. When Louis Pasteur came up with the process, our food production was terrible. The idea of sanitation was not known, the idea that germs caused illness was just being realized (because of Pasteur) and animals, like cows, were not brought up in pristine conditions. Milk from cows brought up in completely unsanitary conditions, being sick and unhealthy, but still having their milk sold was cause for some serious health problems. This was before the creation of the FDA or any other food regulatory system, and before The Jungle showcased to the nation how disgusting our food production was. Incidentally that book led to the creation of the FDA, but that is neither here nor there. It is completely logical to believe that pasteurization was a huge breakthrough, and a necessity at the time of its inception. At the time, pasteurized milk was safer than raw. The question is though, is that still the case today?
One example showcasing the dark side of pasteurization is this study right here. While I am not a believer in the idea that cholesterol is the cause of heart disease, I do believe that oxidized cholesterol poses a huge problem, and is a major factor in heart disease. One specific example of oxidized cholesterol is 7-Ketocholesterol, a dangerous byproduct that comes from the oxidation of cholesterol. 7-Ketocholesterol is linked to not only heart disease, but cancer as well. The following chart is from the given study showing how pasteurization causes the formation of this deadly product. The higher the temperature that the milk is exposed to, the higher the level of 7-ketocholesterol, and that microwaving milk and ultra pasteurization causes the greatest increase in this deadly byproduct. The left side shows the temperature and duration of the pasteurization process, the right side shows the amount of 7-ketocholesterol after the pasteurization was complete.
- Raw cow’s milk None Detected
- Milk Pasteurized at 85C for 16 sec. 2.613e±0.806
- Milk pasteurized at 95C for 5 min. 11.733d±8.119
- Milk pasteurized at 95C for 15 min. 16.328c±1.717
- Milk pasteurized at 85-90C for 2 min. 3.142e±0.694
- Milk boiled at 96C for 5min. 15.363c±1.922
- Milk boiled in microwave oven at 95C for 5min. 50.029b±1.089
- Milk heated at 140C for 4 sec (UHT) 8.708de±1.399
- Reconstituted milk powder (UHT) 80.97a±1.232
That is some scary stuff right there, and certainly makes me wary of consuming pasteurized milk, and especially ultra pasteurized milk, not to mention using the microwave. I’m not presenting this data as a scare tactic, but just to inform people that just because the FDA or the dairy industry tells you pasteurization is better, it might just be better for their pockets, not necessarily for your health.
Onto homogenization. While I won’t go into as much detail on this one, I will give an overview. Homogenization is the process of preventing the cream and water in milk from separating. This is accomplished by forcing the milk at incredibly high pressure through small holes. This seems uncomplicated and fine, except that this causes the fat globules to be much smaller in size, and some may pass through the intestinal walls intact into the bloodstream. There are theories all over the place linking homogenization to heart disease, leaky gut syndrome, and actually being a big cause of dairy allergies. There isn’t a whole lot of proof about the dangers of homogenization, but the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, there wasn’t always proof about the dangers of trans-fat either.
In closing, I have slowly, very slowly, come around to the idea of certified organic raw milk as being the healthiest cow’s milk option. If you purchase from a local farm that pastures their cows and keeps their animals in excellent health, then in my opinion you have less to worry about from raw milk than the pasteurized, homogenized corn fed version at Stop n’ Shop. To learn more about raw milk and where you can get it, check it out here.
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