Is Organic Milk Pasteurized-Organic Myths Part 5
The other day, one of my Twitter followers asked me if organic milk was pasteurized. What made me really go hmmm was that she was an Agriculture Education teacher. It just goes to show that there is so much misinformation out there that even folks directly involved in agriculture cannot keep things straight. In other words, there is no such thing as a dumb question. We all have questions about food.
So to answer the question.
Is organic milk pasteurized?
Yes. All milk in the U.S. sold over state lines must be pasteurized. It is the law. To put it simply, to pasteurize milk means to heat it to a high temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
Organic farmers must meet the same Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance set forth by the FDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that non-organic dairy farmers do. Our barns, milk house, milking areas, handling equipment, milk cooling systems, etc are surprised inspected twice each year to make sure we meet these standards. These inspections are not easy. We have been written up for having a light bulb out in our milking parlor. We take these inspections very seriously because if we don’t pass, we are unable to sell our milk.
A second part of my Twitter follower’s question was about our Somatic Cell Count. The question implied that organic milk might be “dirtier” since we not able to use some of the same methods to control high levels of somatic cells in milk that our conventional friends can. Somatic cells are naturally occurring white blood cells in milk. When a cow’s immune system in her udder is challenged by a foreign object such as bacteria, the amount of somatic cells increase. The Somatic Cell Count is an indicator to the farmer if cows are getting ill. The National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments rules set a limit of 750,000 somatic cells/ml. A healthy cow will naturally be under 200,000 cells/ml. Since somatic cell count is also an indicator of milk quality, Organic Valley has set their somatic cell limit to 400,000 cells/ml. Our farm has received milk quality awards every year because we have low somatic cell counts in our herd and we work hard everyday to make even healthier cows and milk. Currently, our herd is at about 100,000 cells/ml.
So what does this mean to Organic Valley milk drinkers? Since milk from Organic Valley farms is high quality before it is even pasteurized, you can be assured that the milk in your carton just might be the best milk in the world (unofficially of course).
Do you have any questions after reading this post? Please ask them in the comment section. We are happy to answer any questions you might have.