Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Partner content: Why is Milk Pasteurized?

Partner content: Why is Milk Pasteurized?

Pasteurization is the process of heating raw milk to reduce the bacterial (both good/beneficial bacteria and bad/harmful bacteria) and viral load. 

There are a few different methods of pasteurization involving heating milk at different temperatures and for different lengths of time, the main ones are: "…heating to 145 degrees F (62.8 degrees C) for half an hour or 161 degrees F (72 degrees C) for 15 seconds…” but other combinations of time and temperature are used. Without pasteurization, raw (unpasteurized) milk can contain harmful bacteria such as Campylobacter, E. coli and salmonella which may cause serious food borne illness.

Pasteurizing milk is not the same as boiling milk or sterilizing milk. 

The boiling point of cow’s milk is around 203°F (95°C)

UHT (ultra high temperature) pasteurized milk is considered sterilized milk as pasteurization involves heating milk or cream to 138 °C or 280 °F for two seconds and then packaging it in hermetically sealed containers. UHT milk may be stored without refrigeration for months. (These types of milks can be found on the grocery aisle and are more common in other countries and may have a more caramelized flavor.  Note: UHT milk cannot be used to make yogurts or cheese because the milk is already “cooked” and cannot be cultured.)


Related Items

Boiled Milk: Nutrients, Benefits, and How to Make It (

Differences between pasteurization and sterilization | Tecnosoft

Fast Facts About Raw Milk | CDC

Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian


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