Milk is a highly nutritious liquid food present in the mammary glands of various mammals like cows, goats, camels, and even human beings. It is used by mammals to feed their newborns during the first few months until they become capable of eating solid food.
Milk is a great supplier of daily nutrition. It consists of calcium, vitamin D, proteins, phosphorus, vitamin A, zinc, potassium, vitamin B-12, magnesium, and many other important nutrients. Other dairy products like butter, yogurt, cheese, etc are made with milk.
Milk is essential for bone and teeth health. It also controls blood pressure and cholesterol. Milk reduces the risk of heart strokes and heart diseases. It improves digestion, muscle, and bone strength. It prevents gastrointestinal diseases and skin infections to some extent.
Milk has many other benefits, but it can lead to various diseases if it is adulterated or contaminated. Did you ever wonder if the milk you are using in your beverage coasters, coffees, teas, and in other foods is safe?
From The Farm To Your Fridge
Milk has to undergo 8 steps before it reaches your fridge. They are;
● Step 1: cows grazing
This is the basic step to harvest milk from a cow. Cows in the farms are allowed to wander and eat fresh grass. They are also fed grains, hay, and other foods. Healthy foods will result in thicker and quality milk.
● Step 2: harvesting milk
Cows are generally milked in the early morning and can be again milked in the afternoon. Though it is possible to milk a cow by hand, milking machines are now in use. These machines save energy and time.
● Step 3: storing milk
Milk is usually stored in vats or silos on the farm at 39 degrees Fahrenheit for less than 48 hours. It is put in cold storage to prevent the separation of fats and spoilage.
● Step 4: transporting milk
Milk is collected from the farm and transported in tanks. These tanks are made of insulated stainless steel to keep the milk cold throughout the journey. Tanker drivers are also capable of grading and even rejecting the milk if it seems to be spoilt.
● Step 5: laboratory testing
Samples from the bulk milk tanker are tested for antibiotics and temperature before the milk enters the factory processing. These quality tests for milk are done as they are susceptible to bacterial contamination and spoilage.
Various quality tests for milk are done before they are sent to processing units and other production houses. This is one of the most important steps to prevent diseases caused due to milk and other dairy products.
● Step 6: processing milk
After the approval, whole milk is then pumped into storage units for processes like pasteurization, homogenization, etc. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a specific temperature for a specified period of time and then cooling it again. There are other processes involved to reduce the risk of contamination.
● Step 7: packaging Milk
Milk is now sent through pipes of automatic packaging machines that fill and seal the milk into cartons, bottles, and other storage units. Expiry dates on the packages are also printed here.
● Step 8: selling milk
Milk is now ready to be sold. The packages of milk are also stored in cold places in shops and supermarkets to prevent the spoilage of the milk.
Effects of Contaminated Milk
In the above mentioned 8 steps, there are chances for milk to be contaminated in any of these processes. Consuming contaminated milk leads to various illnesses. It is believed that packaged milk has high amounts of bacteria called E.Coli which when consumed causes various diseases and may even lead to death.
It is recommended to avoid direct consumption of raw milk. It is difficult for our digestive system to absorb the nutrients from raw milk. It can also lead to various gastrointestinal diseases. There might be traces of various bacteria even after it is pasteurized. Diseases like brucellosis, listeriosis, tuberculosis, etc can be caused due to contaminated milk.
- It is advised to boil the raw milk and also the packaged milk before consuming it, this prevents the developments of bacteria and kills the existing bacteria
- Store milk in the refrigerator after use.
- Do not overheat, since there might be a loss of nutrients.
Milk is a nutrient-rich supplement that has now become a staple in many of our diets. Consuming milk is very beneficial for the overall development of a person. There are also various diseases that can be affected due to the consumption of contaminated milk. Since health and hygiene are very closely related, it is recommended to follow a few hygienic steps before consuming milk.