Ultra-Pasteurized Milk

UHT milkUltra-pasteurized milk has come to our local grocery stores, and I love it! I now get a half-gallon of 2%, lactose-free, store-brand, at our Super-G and the expiration date is about 2 months off. The date is so far ahead, I do not even check it anymore. I used to get milk in quart containers, and even they often went bad before we could finish them.

But not everyone feels comfortable with new foods, so the manufacturers usually do not advertise what an improvement this is. They abbreviate it as “UHT” and many print it in small type. I even see it on individual containers of chocolate milk that are punctured with an attached straw.

At first, I had thought this was pasteurizing with radiation, and that was the reason many people are fearful of it, but, no, it is a process where they heat the milk to a high temperature of 280 degrees F for only seconds (hence, the abbreviation of Ultra-High Temperature).

The difference between UHT pasteurization and standard pasteurization seems minimal, but still, a Google search brings up many warnings. Some claim that the high temperature alters the 3D configuration of the protean molecules so they no longer fit the geometry of the enzymes in our stomachs that break them up, and are, therefore, left undigested. Even if it did—of which there is no evidence—I think a much greater danger comes from drinking slightly-spoiled milk.

I used to routinely smell milk before I poured it on my cereal and often threw out half of the container when it got too foul. The point when I threw it out depended more on my state of hunger than health concerns. I did not go by the standard expiration date which assumes the seller has kept the milk properly refrigerated, which is not always true.

Critics claim the UHT process results in a cooked taste, which I have never noticed, and that it also kills beneficial bacteria, which could be true. I prefer any unknown bacteria I consume to be dead bacteria.

Caveat: After all that, I have found I cannot drink UHT milk past what would be the normal expiration date without developing disgusting indigestion problems. After months of trial, I have pretty much narrowed down my problems to the milk. I have no symptoms when the container is first opened, so I suspect a harmful bacteria is somehow entering later and multiplying. The caps on the UHT milk containers are much smaller, which leads me to suspect contamination of opened containers is a known problem. The invading bacteria does not sour the taste, but wrecks havoc with my digestion. I occasionally drink UHT chocolate milk from one of those foil individual containers that have been sitting on my shelf unrefrigerated for months with no problem, adding circumstantial evidence to my theory. My next experiment is to wipe the cap with Clorox each time before opening. I also plan to switch back to quart containers.  The sour smell of spoiled milk was an effective warning of a health hazard.  The smell may be gone, but the hazard still lingers.

You may not want to visit me while these experiments are in progress.  I will have to talk to you through the bathroom door.



About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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