Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Pasteurization: Protective or Destructive?

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Myth 18: Pasteurization destroys vitamins and minerals in milk.
What Dietitians of Canada says:
“Pasteurization has little impact on the nutrients in milk. Pasteurization is a simple heat treatment that destroys potentially harmful bacteria sometimes found in milk… It is not safe to drink unpasteurized (raw) milk because it might contain bacteria that can be harmful to your health. Pasteurized milk is a natural source of 15 essential nutrients, plus it’s fortified with vitamin D (raw milk isn’t)>; Drink two cups (500 mL) of lower-fat milk each day to get the calcium and vitamin D you need to help build and maintain healthy bones.”
What I say:
Oh good, another milk myth. Nothing like three milk myths to show that DC is kowtowing to their sponsor Dairy Farmers of Canada. Pasteurization does, in fact, destroy vitamins in milk. It destroys anywhere from 10% to 30% of heat sensitive vitamins in milk (primarily vitamin C and thiamine). However, there’s not a whole heck of a lot of these in milk to begin with so pasteurization has little effect on them. There’s a good reason for pasteurization; it kills harmful bacteria including, e. coli, listeria, and salmonella. Personally, if I return to consuming cow’s milk after my time as a vegan, I wouldn’t want to take the risk of consuming raw milk. I definitely think the benefits of pasteurization outweigh the risks. People with weakened immune systems, children, pregnant women, and the elderly are the most at risk of becoming ill from consuming raw milk. Some people, however, would argue that there are other beneficial components in milk that are being destroyed by the pasteurization process. I’m sure that many of you have heard of Michael Schmidt, the dairy farmer in Ontario who has been battling the Canadian government for the right to sell his raw milk for a number of years now. His most recent thwarted effort involved his customers purchasing shares in his cows as you are allowed to consume raw milk from your own cow. In my opinion, I think that if people are informed about the risks then they should be allowed to make the decision themselves. It’s a little baffling to me that we legally allow the sale of cigarettes which definitely don’t have health benefits but we won’t permit the sale of raw milk which has potential benefits alongside potential risks.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

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