Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It
is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals (including
humans who breastfeed) before they are able to digest other types of
food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the
mother's antibodies to its young and can reduce the risk of many
diseases. It contains many other nutrients including protein and
As an agricultural product, milk is extracted from non-human mammals
during or soon after pregnancy.
Dairy farms produced about 730 million
tonnes of milk in 2011, from 260 million dairy cows.
the world's largest producer of milk, and is the leading exporter of
skimmed milk powder, yet it exports few other milk products. The
ever increasing rise in domestic demand for dairy products and a large
demand-supply gap could lead to
India being a net importer of dairy
products in the future. The United States, India,
China and Brazil
are the world's largest exporters of milk and milk products. China
Russia were the world's largest importers of milk and milk
products until 2016 when both countries became self-sufficient,
contributing to a worldwide glut of milk.
Throughout the world, more than six billion people consume milk and
milk products. Over 750 million people live in dairy farming
2 Types of consumption
2.1 Nutrition for infant mammals
2.2 Food product for humans
4 Evolution of lactation
6.1 Other animal-based sources
7 Production worldwide
7.1 Production yields
9 Physical and chemical properties
9.4 Salts, minerals, and vitamins
Calcium phosphate structure
9.5 Carbohydrates and miscellaneous contents
10.2 Creaming and homogenization
11 Nutrition and health
11.1 Cow's milk
11.2 Nutritional value
11.3 Recommended consumption
11.4 Medical research
11.6 Possible harms
Flavored milk in US schools
12 Bovine growth hormone supplementation
14 Varieties and brands
14.1 Reduction or elimination of lactose
14.2 Additives and flavoring
Australia and New Zealand
14.3.4 United Kingdom
14.3.5 United States
14.5 Spoilage and fermented milk products
15 Use in other food products
16 Language and culture
17 Other uses
18 See also
20 Further reading
21 External links
The term "milk" comes from "Old English meoluc (West Saxon), milc
(Anglian), from Proto-Germanic *meluks "milk" (source also of Old
Norse mjolk, Old Frisian melok, Old Saxon miluk, Dutch melk, Old High
German miluh, German Milch, Gothic miluks)".
Types of consumption
Milk consumption occurs in two distinct overall types: a natural
source of nutrition for all infant mammals and a food product obtained
from other mammals for consumption by humans of all ages.
Nutrition for infant mammals
Breastfeeding and Lactation
Breastfeeding to provide a mother's milk
A goat kid feeding on its mother's milk
In almost all mammals, milk is fed to infants through breastfeeding,
either directly or by expressing the milk to be stored and consumed
later. The early milk from mammals is called colostrum. Colostrum
contains antibodies that provide protection to the newborn baby as
well as nutrients and growth factors. The makeup of the colostrum
and the period of secretion varies from species to species.
For humans, the
World Health Organization
World Health Organization recommends exclusive
breastfeeding for six months and breastfeeding in addition to other
food for at least two years. In some cultures it is common to
breastfeed children for three to five years, and the period may be
Fresh goats' milk is sometimes substituted for breast milk, which
introduces the risk of the child developing electrolyte imbalances,
metabolic acidosis, megaloblastic anemia, and a host of allergic
Food product for humans
Holstein Friesian cattle
Holstein Friesian cattle is the dominant breed in industrialized
dairy farms today
In many cultures, especially in the West, humans continue to consume
milk beyond infancy, using the milk of other mammals (especially
cattle, goats and sheep) as a food product. Initially, the ability to
digest milk was limited to children as adults did not produce lactase,
an enzyme necessary for digesting the lactose in milk. People
therefore converted milk to curd, cheese and other products to reduce
the levels of lactose. Thousands of years ago, a chance mutation
spread in human populations in
Europe that enabled the production of
lactase in adulthood. This mutation allowed milk to be used as a new
source of nutrition which could sustain populations when other food
sources failed. People process milk into a variety of products
such as cream, butter, yogurt, kefir, ice cream, and cheese. Modern
industrial processes use milk to produce casein, whey protein,
lactose, condensed milk, powdered milk, and many other food-additives
and industrial products.
Whole milk, butter and cream have high levels of saturated
fat. The sugar lactose is found only in milk, forsythia
flowers, and a few tropical shrubs. The enzyme needed to digest
lactose, lactase, reaches its highest levels in the human small
intestine after birth and then begins a slow decline unless milk is
consumed regularly. Those groups who do continue to tolerate milk,
however, often have exercised great creativity in using the milk of
domesticated ungulates, not only of cattle, but also sheep, goats,
yaks, water buffalo, horses, reindeer and camels.
India is the largest
producer and consumer of cattle and buffalo milk in the world.
Per capita consumption of milk and milk products in selected countries
In food use, the term milk is defined under Codex Alimentarius
standards as: "the normal mammary secretion of milking animals
obtained from one or more milkings without either addition to it or
extraction from it, intended for consumption as liquid milk or for
further processing." This definition thereby precludes non-animal
products which may resemble milk in color and texture (milk
substitutes) such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and coconut
milk. The correct name for such products are 'soy beverage', 'rice
Dairy relates to milk and milk production, e.g. dairy products.
In addition, a substance secreted by pigeons to feed their young is
called "crop milk" and bears some resemblance to mammalian milk,
although it is not consumed as a milk substitute.
Evolution of lactation
The mammary gland is thought to have derived from apocrine skin
glands. It has been suggested that the original function of
lactation (milk production) was keeping eggs moist. Much of the
argument is based on monotremes (egg-laying mammals). The
original adaptive significance of milk secretions may have been
nutrition or immunological protection. This secretion
gradually became more copious and accrued nutritional complexity over
Tritylodontid cynodonts seem to have displayed lactation, based on
their dental replacement patterns.
Drinking milk in
Germany in 1932
Humans first learned to consume the milk of other mammals regularly
following the domestication of animals during the Neolithic Revolution
or the development of agriculture. This development occurred
independently in several global locations from as early as 9000–7000
BC in Mesopotamia to 3500–3000 BC in the Americas. People
first domesticated the most important dairy animals—cattle, sheep
and goats—in Southwest Asia, although domestic cattle had been
independently derived from wild aurochs populations several times
since. Initially animals were kept for meat, and archaeologist
Andrew Sherratt has suggested that dairying, along with the
exploitation of domestic animals for hair and labor, began much later
in a separate secondary products revolution in the fourth millennium
BC. Sherratt's model is not supported by recent findings, based on
the analysis of lipid residue in prehistoric pottery, that shows that
dairying was practiced in the early phases of agriculture in Southwest
Asia, by at least the seventh millennium BC.
From Southwest Asia domestic dairy animals spread to
around 7000 BC but did not reach Britain and Scandinavia until after
4000 BC), and South Asia (7000–5500 BC). The first farmers
in central Europe and Britain milked their animals. Pastoral
and pastoral nomadic economies, which rely predominantly or
exclusively on domestic animals and their products rather than crop
farming, were developed as European farmers moved into the
Pontic-Caspian steppe in the fourth millennium BC, and subsequently
spread across much of the Eurasian steppe. Sheep and goats were
introduced to Africa from Southwest Asia, but African cattle may have
been independently domesticated around 7000–6000 BC. Camels,
domesticated in central Arabia in the fourth millennium BC, have also
been used as dairy animals in North Africa and the Arabian
Peninsula. The earliest Egyptian records of burn treatments
describe burn dressings using milk from mothers of male babies. In
the rest of the world (i.e., East and Southeast Asia, the Americas and
Australia) milk and dairy products were historically not a large part
of the diet, either because they remained populated by
hunter-gatherers who did not keep animals or the local agricultural
economies did not include domesticated dairy species.
became common in these regions comparatively recently, as a
consequence of European colonialism and political domination over much
of the world in the last 500 years.
In the Middle Ages, milk was called the "virtuous white liquor"
because alcoholic beverages were safer to consume than water.
Express Dairies three-axle milk tank wagon at the Didcot
Railway Centre, based on an SR chassis
The growth in urban population, coupled with the expansion of the
railway network in the mid-19th century, brought about a revolution in
milk production and supply. Individual railway firms began
transporting milk from rural areas to London from the 1840s and 1850s.
Possibly the first such instance was in 1846, when St Thomas's
Southwark contracted with milk suppliers outside London to
ship milk by rail. The
Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway was an early and
enthusiastic adopter, and began to transport milk into London from
Maidenhead in 1860, despite much criticism. By 1900, the company was
transporting over 25 million gallons annually. The milk trade grew
slowly through the 1860s, but went through a period of extensive,
structural change in the 1870s and 1880s.
Milk transportation in Salem, Tamil Nadu
Urban demand began to grow, as consumer purchasing power increased and
milk became regarded as a required daily commodity. Over the last
three decades of the 19th century, demand for milk in most parts of
the country doubled, or in some cases, tripled. Legislation in 1875
made the adulteration of milk illegal - this combined with a marketing
campaign to change the image of milk. The proportion of rural imports
by rail as a percentage of total milk consumption in London grew from
under 5% in the 1860s to over 96% by the early 20th century. By that
point, the supply system for milk was the most highly organized and
integrated of any food product.
1959 milk supply in Oberlech, Vorarlberg, Austria
The first glass bottle packaging for milk was used in the 1870s. The
first company to do so may have been the New York
Dairy Company in
1877. The Express
Dairy Company in England began glass bottle
production in 1880. In 1884, Hervey Thatcher, an American inventor
from New York, invented a glass milk bottle, called 'Thatcher's Common
Milk Jar', which was sealed with a waxed paper disk. Later,
in 1932, plastic-coated paper milk cartons were introduced
In 1863, French chemist and biologist
Louis Pasteur invented
pasteurization, a method of killing harmful bacteria in beverages and
food products. He developed this method while on summer vacation
in Arbois, to remedy the frequent acidity of the local wines. He
found out experimentally that it is sufficient to heat a young wine to
only about 50–60 °C (122–140 °F) for a brief time to
kill the microbes, and that the wine could be nevertheless properly
aged without sacrificing the final quality. In honor of Pasteur,
the process became known as "pasteurization".
originally used as a way of preventing wine and beer from souring.
Commercial pasteurizing equipment was produced in
Germany in the
1880s, and producers adopted the process in
Copenhagen and Stockholm
Continued improvements in the efficiency of milk production led to a
worldwide glut of milk by 2016.
self-sufficient and stopped importing milk.
Canada has tried to
restrict milk production by forcing new farmers/increased capacity to
"buy in" at CN$24,000 per cow. Importing milk is prohibited. The
European Union theoretically stopped subsidizing dairy farming in
2015. Direct subsidies were replaced by "environmental incentives"
which results in the government buying milk when the price falls to
€200 per 1,000 litres (220 imp gal; 260 US gal).
United States has a voluntary insurance program that pays farmers
depending upon the price of milk and the cost of feed.
Modern dairy farm in Norway
The females of all mammal species can by definition produce milk, but
cow's milk dominates commercial production. In 2011,
FAO estimates 85%
of all milk worldwide was produced from cows. Human milk is not
produced or distributed industrially or commercially; however, human
milk banks collect donated human breastmilk and redistribute it to
infants who may benefit from human milk for various reasons (premature
neonates, babies with allergies, metabolic diseases, etc.) but who
In the Western world, cow's milk is produced on an industrial scale
and is by far the most commonly consumed form of milk. Commercial
dairy farming using automated milking equipment produces the vast
majority of milk in developed countries.
Dairy cattle such as the
Holstein have been bred selectively for increased milk production.
About 90% of the dairy cows in the
United States and 85% in Great
Britain are Holsteins. Other dairy cows in the United States
include Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Jersey and
Other animal-based sources
Other significant sources of milk
Goats (2% of world's milk)
Aside from cattle, many kinds of livestock provide milk used by humans
for dairy products. These animals include buffalo, goat, sheep, camel,
donkey, horse, reindeer and yak. The first four respectively produced
about 11%, 2%, 1.4% and 0.2% of all milk worldwide in 2011.
Russia and Sweden, small moose dairies also exist.
According to the US National Bison Association,
American bison (also
called American buffalo) are not milked commercially; however,
various sources report cows resulting from cross-breeding bison and
domestic cattle are good milk producers, and have been used both
during the European settlement of North America and during the
development of commercial
Beefalo in the 1970s and 1980s.
Swine are almost never milked, even though their milk is similar to
cow's milk and perfectly suitable for human consumption. The main
reasons for this are that milking a sow's numerous small teats is very
cumbersome, and that sows can't store their milk as cows can. A
few pig farms do sell pig cheese as a novelty item; these cheeses are
Top ten cow milk producers
Top ten sheep milk producers
Top ten goat milk producers
Top ten buffalo milk producers
In 2012, the largest producer of milk and milk products was India
followed by the
United States of America, China,
Brazil. All 28 European Union members together produced 153.8
million tonnes of milk in 2013, the largest by any politico-economic
Increasing affluence in developing countries, as well as increased
promotion of milk and milk products, has led to a rise in milk
consumption in developing countries in recent years. In turn, the
opportunities presented by these growing markets have attracted
investments by multinational dairy firms. Nevertheless, in many
countries production remains on a small scale and presents significant
opportunities for diversification of income sources by small
farms. Local milk collection centers, where milk is collected and
chilled prior to being transferred to urban dairies, are a good
example of where farmers have been able to work on a cooperative
basis, particularly in countries such as India.
Child milking a cow by hand
Israel dairy farms are the most productive in the
world, with a yield of 12,546 kilograms (27,659 lb) milk per cow
per year. This survey over 2001 and 2007 was conducted by ICAR
(International Committee for Animal Recording) across 17 developed
countries. The survey found that the average herd size in these
developed countries increased from 74 to 99 cows per herd between 2001
and 2007. A dairy farm had an average of 19 cows per herd in Norway,
and 337 in New Zealand. Annual milk production in the same period
increased from 7,726 to 8,550 kg (17,033 to 18,850 lb) per
cow in these developed countries. The lowest average production was in
New Zealand at 3,974 kg (8,761 lb) per cow. The milk yield
per cow depended on production systems, nutrition of the cows, and
only to a minor extent different genetic potential of the animals.
What the cow ate made the most impact on the production obtained. New
Zealand cows with the lowest yield per year grazed all year, in
Israel with the highest yield where the cows ate in barns
with an energy-rich mixed diet.
The milk yield per cow in the United States, the world's largest cow
milk producer, was 9,954 kg (21,945 lb) per year in 2010. In
contrast, the milk yields per cow in
China – the second
and third largest producers – were respectively 1,154 kg
(2,544 lb) and 2,282 kg (5,031 lb) per year.
It was reported in 2007 that with increased worldwide prosperity and
the competition of bio-fuel production for feed stocks, both the
demand for and the price of milk had substantially increased
worldwide. Particularly notable was the rapid increase of consumption
of milk in
China and the rise of the price of milk in the United
States above the government subsidized price. In 2010 the
Department of Agriculture predicted farmers would receive an average
of $1.35 per US gallon of cow's milk (35 cents per liter), which is
down 30 cents per gallon from 2007 and below the break-even point for
many cattle farmers.
See also: Food grading
In the United States, there are two grades of milk, with grade A
primarily used for direct sales and consumption in stores, and grade B
used for indirect consumption, such as in cheese making or other
The differences between the two grades are defined in the Wisconsin
administrative code for Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection,
chapter 60. Grade B generally refers to milk that is cooled in
milk cans, which are immersed in a bath of cold flowing water that
typically is drawn up from an underground water well rather than using
Physical and chemical properties
Butterfat is a triglyceride (fat) formed from fatty acids such as
myristic, palmitic, and oleic acids.
Milk is an emulsion or colloid of butterfat globules within a
water-based fluid that contains dissolved carbohydrates and protein
aggregates with minerals. Because it is produced as a food source
for the young, all of its contents provide benefits for growth. The
principal requirements are energy (lipids, lactose, and protein),
biosynthesis of non-essential amino acids supplied by proteins
(essential amino acids and amino groups), essential fatty acids,
vitamins and inorganic elements, and water.
The pH of milk ranges from 6.4 to 6.8 and it changes over time. Milk
from other bovines and non-bovine mammals varies in composition, but
has a similar pH.
Main article: Butterfat
Initially milk fat is secreted in the form of a fat globule surrounded
by a membrane. Each fat globule is composed almost entirely of
triacylglycerols and is surrounded by a membrane consisting of complex
lipids such as phospholipids, along with proteins. These act as
emulsifiers which keep the individual globules from coalescing and
protect the contents of these globules from various enzymes in the
fluid portion of the milk. Although 97–98% of lipids are
triacylglycrols, small amounts of di- and monoacylglycerols, free
cholesterol and cholesterol esters, free fatty acids, and
phospholipids are also present. Unlike protein and carbohydrates, fat
composition in milk varies widely in the composition due to genetic,
lactational, and nutritional factor difference between different
Like composition, fat globules vary in size from less than 0.2 to
about 15 micrometers in diameter between different species. Diameter
may also vary between animals within a species and at different times
within a milking of a single animal. In unhomogenized cow's milk, the
fat globules have an average diameter of two to four micrometers and
with homogenization, average around 0.4 micrometers. The
fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K along with essential fatty acids
such as linoleic and linolenic acid are found within the milk fat
portion of the milk.
Normal bovine milk contains 30–35 grams of protein per liter of
which about 80% is arranged in casein micelles. Total proteins in milk
represent 3.2% of its composition (nutrition table).
Main article: Casein
The largest structures in the fluid portion of the milk are "casein
micelles": aggregates of several thousand protein molecules with
superficial resemblance to a surfactant micelle, bonded with the help
of nanometer-scale particles of calcium phosphate. Each casein micelle
is roughly spherical and about a tenth of a micrometer across. There
are four different types of casein proteins: αs1-, αs2-, β-, and
κ-caseins. Collectively, they make up around 76–86% of the
protein in milk, by weight. Most of the casein proteins are bound into
the micelles. There are several competing theories regarding the
precise structure of the micelles, but they share one important
feature: the outermost layer consists of strands of one type of
protein, k-casein, reaching out from the body of the micelle into the
surrounding fluid. These kappa-casein molecules all have a negative
electrical charge and therefore repel each other, keeping the micelles
separated under normal conditions and in a stable colloidal suspension
in the water-based surrounding fluid.
Milk contains dozens of other types of proteins beside caseins and
including enzymes. These other proteins are more water-soluble than
caseins and do not form larger structures. Because the proteins remain
suspended in whey remaining when caseins coagulate into curds, they
are collectively known as whey proteins.
Whey proteins make up
approximately 20% of the protein in milk by weight.
the most common whey protein by a large margin.
Salts, minerals, and vitamins
Minerals or milk salts, are traditional names for a variety of cations
and anions within bovine milk. Calcium, phosphate, magnesium, sodium,
potassium, citrate, and chlorine are all included as minerals and they
typically occur at concentration of 5–40 mM. The milk salts strongly
interact with casein, most notably calcium phosphate. It is present in
excess and often, much greater excess of solubility of solid calcium
phosphate. In addition to calcium, milk is a good source of many
other vitamins. Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, K, E, thiamine, niacin,
biotin, riboflavin, folates, and pantothenic acid are all present in
Calcium phosphate structure
For many years the most accepted theory of the structure of a micelle
was that it was composed of spherical casein aggregates, called
submicelles, that were held together by calcium phosphate linkages.
However, there are two recent models of the casein micelle that refute
the distinct micellular structures within the micelle.
The first theory attributed to de Kruif and Holt, proposes that
nanoclusters of calcium phosphate and the phosphopeptide fraction of
beta-casein are the centerpiece to micellular structure. Specifically
in this view, unstructured proteins organize around the calcium
phosphate giving rise to their structure and thus no specific
structure is formed.
The second theory proposed by Horne, the growth of calcium phosphate
nanoclusters begins the process of micelle formation but is limited by
binding phosphopeptide loop regions of the caseins. Once bound,
protein-protein interactions are formed and polymerization occurs, in
K-casein is used as an end cap, to form micelles with trapped
calcium phosphate nanoclusters.
Some sources indicate that the trapped calcium phosphate is in the
form of Ca9(PO4)6; whereas, others say it is similar to the structure
of the mineral brushite CaHPO4 -2H2O.
Carbohydrates and miscellaneous contents
A simplified representation of a lactose molecule being broken down
into glucose (2) and galactose (1)
Milk contains several different carbohydrate including lactose,
glucose, galactose, and other oligosaccharides. The lactose gives milk
its sweet taste and contributes approximately 40% of whole cow's
Lactose is a disaccharide composite of two simple
sugars, glucose and galactose. Bovine milk averages 4.8% anhydrous
lactose, which amounts to about 50% of the total solids of skimmed
milk. Levels of lactose are dependent upon the type of milk as other
carbohydrates can be present at higher concentrations that lactose in
Other components found in raw cow's milk are living white blood cells,
mammary gland cells, various bacteria, and a large number of active
Both the fat globules and the smaller casein micelles, which are just
large enough to deflect light, contribute to the opaque white color of
milk. The fat globules contain some yellow-orange carotene, enough in
some breeds (such as Guernsey and Jersey cattle) to impart a golden or
"creamy" hue to a glass of milk. The riboflavin in the whey portion of
milk has a greenish color, which sometimes can be discerned in skimmed
milk or whey products. Fat-free skimmed milk has only the casein
micelles to scatter light, and they tend to scatter shorter-wavelength
blue light more than they do red, giving skimmed milk a bluish
Milk products and productions relationships (click to enlarge)
In most Western countries, centralized dairy facilities process milk
and products obtained from milk, such as cream, butter, and cheese. In
the US, these dairies usually are local companies, while in the
Southern Hemisphere facilities may be run by very large nationwide or
trans-national corporations such as Fonterra.
Pasteurization § Milk
Pasteurization is used to kill harmful pathogenic bacteria by heating
the milk for a short time and then immediately cooling it. Types of
pasteurized milk include full cream, reduced fat, skim milk, calcium
enriched, flavoured, and UHT. The standard high temperature short
time (HTST) process of 72 °C for 15 seconds completely kills
pathogenic bacteria in milk, rendering it safe to drink for up to
three weeks if continually refrigerated. Dairies print best before
dates on each container, after which stores remove any unsold milk
from their shelves.
A side effect of the heating of pasteurization is that some vitamin
and mineral content is lost. Soluble calcium and phosphorus decrease
by 5%, thiamin and vitamin B12 by 10%, and vitamin C by 20%.
Because losses are small in comparison to the large amount of the two
B-vitamins present, milk continues to provide significant amounts of
thiamin and vitamin B12. The loss of vitamin C is not nutritionally
significant, as milk is not an important dietary source of vitamin C.
Microfiltration is a process that partially replaces pasteurization
and produces milk with fewer microorganisms and longer shelf life
without a change in the taste of the milk. In this process, cream is
separated from the skimmed milk and is pasteurized in the usual way,
but the skimmed milk is forced through ceramic microfilters that trap
99.9% of microorganisms in the milk (as compared to 99.999%
killing of microorganisms in standard HTST pasteurization). The
skimmed milk then is recombined with the pasteurized cream to
reconstitute the original milk composition.
Ultrafiltration uses finer filters than microfiltration, which allow
lactose and water to pass through while retaining fats, calcium and
protein. As with microfiltration, the fat may be removed before
filtration and added back in afterwards.
Ultrafiltered milk is
used is cheesemaking, since it has reduced volume for a given protein
content, and is sold directly to consumers as a higher protein, lower
sugar content, and creamier alternative to regular milk.
Creaming and homogenization
A milking machine in action
Upon standing for 12 to 24 hours, fresh milk has a tendency to
separate into a high-fat cream layer on top of a larger, low-fat milk
layer. The cream often is sold as a separate product with its own
uses. Today the separation of the cream from the milk usually is
accomplished rapidly in centrifugal cream separators. The fat globules
rise to the top of a container of milk because fat is less dense than
water. The smaller the globules, the more other molecular-level forces
prevent this from happening. In fact, the cream rises in cow's milk
much more quickly than a simple model would predict: rather than
isolated globules, the fat in the milk tends to form into clusters
containing about a million globules, held together by a number of
minor whey proteins. These clusters rise faster than individual
globules can. The fat globules in milk from goats, sheep, and water
buffalo do not form clusters as readily and are smaller to begin with,
resulting in a slower separation of cream from these milks.
Milk often is homogenized, a treatment that prevents a cream layer
from separating out of the milk. The milk is pumped at high pressures
through very narrow tubes, breaking up the fat globules through
turbulence and cavitation. A greater number of smaller particles
possess more total surface area than a smaller number of larger ones,
and the original fat globule membranes cannot completely cover them.
Casein micelles are attracted to the newly exposed fat surfaces.
Nearly one-third of the micelles in the milk end up participating in
this new membrane structure. The casein weighs down the globules and
interferes with the clustering that accelerated separation. The
exposed fat globules are vulnerable to certain enzymes present in
milk, which could break down the fats and produce rancid flavors. To
prevent this, the enzymes are inactivated by pasteurizing the milk
immediately before or during homogenization.
Homogenized milk tastes blander but feels creamier in the mouth than
unhomogenized. It is whiter and more resistant to developing off
flavors. Creamline (or cream-top) milk is unhomogenized. It may or
may not have been pasteurized.
Milk that has undergone high-pressure
homogenization, sometimes labeled as "ultra-homogenized", has a longer
shelf life than milk that has undergone ordinary homogenization at
The homogenization process increases the shelf life of milk because it
decreases the radius of fat globules and other particles (per stokes'
law) thus delaying the rate of agglomeration.
Ultra Heat Treatment (UHT), is a type of milk processing where all
bacteria are destroyed with high heat to extend its shelf life for up
to 6 months, as long as the package is not opened.
Milk is firstly
homogenized and then is heated to 138 degrees Celsius for 1–3
seconds. The milk is immediately cooled down and packed into a sterile
container. As a result of this treatment, all the pathogenic bacteria
within the milk are destroyed, unlike when the milk is just
pasteurised. The milk will now keep for up for 6 months if unopened.
UHT milk does not need to be refrigerated until the package is opened,
which makes it easier to ship and store. But in this process there is
a loss of vitamin B1 and vitamin C and there is also a slight change
in the taste of the milk.
Nutrition and health
Fat content of milk
The composition of milk differs widely among species. Factors such as
the type of protein; the proportion of protein, fat, and sugar; the
levels of various vitamins and minerals; and the size of the butterfat
globules, and the strength of the curd are among those that may
vary. For example:
Human milk contains, on average, 1.1% protein, 4.2% fat, 7.0% lactose
(a sugar), and supplies 72 kcal of energy per 100 grams.
Cow's milk contains, on average, 3.4% protein, 3.6% fat, and 4.6%
lactose, 0.7% minerals and supplies 66 kcal of energy per
100 grams. See also Nutritional value further on
Donkey and horse milk have the lowest fat content, while the milk of
seals and whales may contain more than 50% fat.
Milk composition analysis, per 100 grams
----Saturated fatty acids
----Monounsaturated fatty acids
----Polyunsaturated fatty acids
Carbohydrate (i.e. the sugar form of lactose)
These compositions vary by breed, animal, and point in the lactation
Milk fat percentages
The protein range for these four breeds is 3.3% to 3.9%, while the
lactose range is 4.7% to 4.9%.
Milk fat percentages may be manipulated by dairy farmers' stock diet
Mastitis infection can cause fat levels to
Nutrient contents in %DV of common foods (raw, uncooked) per 100
cooking Reduction %
Ch. = Choline; Ca = Calcium; Fe = Iron; Mg = Magnesium; P =
Phosphorus; K = Potassium; Na = Sodium; Zn = Zinc; Cu = Copper; Mn =
Manganese; Se = Selenium; %DV = % daily value i.e. % of DRI
(Dietary Reference Intake) Note: All nutrient values including protein
and fiber are in %DV per 100 grams of the food item. Significant
values are highlighted in light Gray color and bold letters. 
Cooking reduction = % Maximum typical reduction in nutrients due
to boiling without draining for ovo-lacto-vegetables group Q =
Protein in terms of completeness without adjusting for
Cow's milk (whole)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
252 kJ (60 kcal)
Vitamin A equiv.
100 mL corresponds to 103 g.
μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for
USDA Nutrient Database
Processed cow's milk was formulated to contain differing amounts of
fat during the 1950s. One cup (250 mL) of 2%-fat cow's milk
contains 285 mg of calcium, which represents 22% to 29% of the
daily recommended intake (DRI) of calcium for an adult. Depending on
its age, milk contains 8 grams of protein, and a number of other
nutrients (either naturally or through fortification) including:
The amount of calcium from milk that is absorbed by the human body is
Calcium from dairy products has a greater
bioavailability than calcium from certain vegetables, such as spinach,
that contain high levels of calcium-chelating agents, but a
similar or lesser bioavailability than calcium from low-oxalate
vegetables such as kale, broccoli, or other vegetables in the Brassica
Milk as a calcium source has been questioned in media, but scientific
research is lacking to support the hypothesis of acidosis induced by
milk. The hypothesis in question being that acidosis would lead to
leeching of calcium storages in bones to neutralize pH levels (also
known as acid-ash hypothesis). Research has found no link between
metabolic acidosis and consumption of milk.
The U.S. federal government document Dietary Guidelines for Americans,
2010 recommends consumption of three glasses of fat-free or
low-fat milk for adults and children 9 and older (less for younger
children) per day. This recommendation is disputed by some health
researchers who call for more study of the issue, given that there are
other sources for calcium and vitamin D. The researchers also claim
that the recommendations have been unduly influenced by the American
dairy industry, and that whole milk may be better for health due
to its increased ability to satiate hunger.
A 2008 review found evidence suggesting that consumption of milk is
effective at promoting muscle growth. Some studies have suggested
that conjugated linoleic acid, which can be found in dairy products,
is an effective supplement for reducing body fat. With regards to
the claim of milk promoting stronger bones, there has been no
association between milk consumption or excess calcium intake and
a reduced risk of bone fractures.
In 2011, The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research published a
meta-analysis examining whether milk consumption might protect against
hip fracture in middle-aged and older adults. Studies could find no
association between drinking milk and lower rates of fractures.
In 2014, JAMA Pediatrics published a report after monitoring almost
100,000 men and women for more than two decades. Subjects were asked
to report on how much milk they had consumed as teenagers, and were
followed to see if there is any association with a reduced chance of
hip fractures later in life, it found there was not any. A
study published in The
BMJ that followed more than 45,000 men and
61,000 women in
Sweden age 39 and older had similar results. Milk
consumption in adults was associated with no protection for men, and
an increased risk of fractures in women. The risk of any bone fracture
increased 16 percent in women who drank three or more glasses daily,
and the risk of a broken hip increased 60 percent. It was also
associated with an increased risk of death in both sexes.
Milk and dairy products have the potential for causing serious
infection in newborn infants. Unpasteurized milk and cheeses can
promote the growth of
Listeria monocytogenes can
also cause serious infection in an infant and pregnant woman and can
be transmitted to her infant in utero or after birth. The infection
has the potential of seriously harming or even causing the death of a
preterm infant, an infant of low or very low birth weight, or an
infant with an immune system defect or a congenital defect of the
immune system. The presence of this pathogen can sometimes be
determined by the symptoms that appear as a gastrointestinal illness
in the mother. The mother can also acquire infection from ingesting
food that contains other animal products such as, hot dogs,
delicatessen meats, and cheese.
Lactose, the disaccharide sugar component of all milk, must be cleaved
in the small intestine by the enzyme lactase, in order for its
constituents, galactose and glucose, to be absorbed. Lactose
intolerance is a condition in which people have symptoms due to not
enough of the enzyme lactase in the small intestines. Those
affected vary in the amount of lactose they can tolerate before
symptoms develop. These may include abdominal pain, bloating,
diarrhea, gas, and nausea. Severity depends on the amount a person
eats or drinks. Those affected are usually able to drink at least
one cup of milk without developing significant symptoms, with greater
amounts tolerated if drunk with a meal or throughout the
Lactose intolerance does not cause damage to the gastrointestinal
tract. There are four types: primary, secondary, developmental,
and congenital. Primary lactose intolerance is when the amount of
lactase decline as people age. Secondary lactose intolerance is due to
injury to the small intestine such as from infection, celiac disease,
inflammatory bowel disease, or other diseases. Developmental
lactose intolerance may occur in premature babies and usually improves
over a short period of time. Congenital lactose intolerance is an
extremely rare genetic disorder in which little or no lactase is made
from birth. When lactose intolerance is due to secondary lactase
deficiency, treatment of the underlying disease allows lactase
activity to return to normal levels.
Lactose intolerance is
different from a milk allergy.
The number of people with lactose intolerance is unknown. Some
human populations have developed lactase persistence, in which lactase
production continues into adulthood probably as a response to the
benefits of being able to digest milk from farm animals. The
percentage of the population that has a decrease in lactase as they
age is less than 10% in Northern
Europe and as high as 95% in parts of
Asia and Africa.
Infant food safety
Some studies suggest that milk consumption may increase the risk of
suffering from certain health problems. Cow's milk allergy (CMA) is an
immunologically mediated adverse reaction, rarely fatal, to one or
more cow's milk proteins.
Milk from any mammal contains amino
acids and microRNA which influence the drinker's metabolism and
growth; this "programming" is beneficial for milk's natural
consumers, namely infants of the same species as the milk producer,
but post-infancy and trans-species milk consumption affects the mTORC1
metabolic pathway and may promote diseases of civilization such as
obesity and diabetes.
Milk contains exogenous opioid peptides called exorphins which include
opioid food peptides like
Gluten exorphin and opioid food peptides.
Exorphins mimic the actions of endorphines because they bind to the
same opioid receptors in the brain. The exorphin in milk is called
casein, a substance that breaks down in the human stomach to produce
the opioid peptide casomorphin. In the early 1990s it was hypothesized
that casomorphin can cause or aggravate autism spectrum
disorders, and casein-free diets are widely promoted.
Studies supporting these claims have had significant flaws, and the
data are inadequate to guide autism treatment
The most recent assessment by the
World Cancer Research Fund and the
American Institute for Cancer Research
American Institute for Cancer Research found that most individual
epidemiological studies showed increased risk of prostate cancer with
increased intake of milk or dairy products. "Meta-analysis of
cohort data produced evidence of a clear dose-response relationship
between advanced/aggressive cancer risk with milk intake, and between
all prostate cancer risk and milk and dairy products." Possible
mechanisms proposed included inhibition of the conversion of vitamin D
to its active metabolite, 1,25- dihydroxy vitamin D3 by calcium (which
some evidence suggests increases cell proliferation in the prostate),
and elevation of levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1).
Several sources suggest a correlation between high calcium intake from
milk, in particular, and prostate cancer, consistent
with a calcium/vitamin D based mechanism. Overall, the WCRF/AICR panel
concluded that "The evidence is inconsistent from both cohort and
case-control studies. There is limited evidence suggesting that milk
and dairy products are a cause of prostate cancer."
Medical studies also have shown a possible link between milk
consumption and the exacerbation of diseases such as Crohn's
disease, Hirschsprung's disease–mimicking symptoms in babies
with existing cow's milk allergies, and the aggravation of
Flavored milk in US schools
Milk must be offered at every meal if a
United States school district
wishes to get reimbursement from the federal government. A
quarter of the largest school districts in the US offer rice or soy
milk and almost 17% of all US school districts offer lactose-free
milk. Seventy-one percent of the milk served in US school cafeterias
is flavored, causing some school districts to propose a ban because
flavored milk has added sugars. (Though some flavored milk products
use artificial sweeteners instead.) The Boulder, Colorado, school
district banned flavored milk in 2009 and instead installed a
dispenser that keeps the milk colder.
Bovine growth hormone supplementation
Since November 1993, recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), also
called rBGH, has been sold to dairy farmers with FDA approval. Cows
produce bovine growth hormone naturally, but some producers administer
an additional recombinant version of BGH which is produced through
genetically engineered E. coli to increase milk production. Bovine
growth hormone also stimulates liver production of insulin-like growth
factor 1 (IGF1). The US Food and Drug Administration, the
National Institutes of Health and the World Health
Organization have reported that both of these compounds are safe
for human consumption at the amounts present.
On June 9, 2006, the largest milk processor in the world and the two
largest supermarkets in the
United States – Dean Foods, Wal-Mart,
Kroger – announced that they are "on a nationwide search for
Milk from cows given rBST may be sold in the
United States, and the FDA stated that no significant difference has
been shown between milk derived from rBST-treated and that from
Milk that advertises that it comes from
cows not treated with rBST, is required to state this finding on its
Cows receiving rBGH supplements may more frequently contract an udder
infection known as mastitis. Problems with mastitis have led to
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan banning milk from rBST
treated cows. Mastitis, among other diseases, may be responsible for
the fact that levels of white blood cells in milk vary
rBGH is also banned in the European Union.
Vegans and some other vegetarians do not consume milk for reasons
mostly related to animal rights and environmental concerns. They may
object to features of dairy farming including the necessity of keeping
dairy cows pregnant, the killing of almost all the male offspring of
dairy cows (either by disposal soon after birth, for veal production,
or for beef), the routine separation of mother and calf soon after
birth, other perceived inhumane treatment of dairy cattle, and culling
of cows after their productive lives.
Some have criticized the American government's promotion of milk
consumption. Their main concern is the financial interest that the
American government has taken in the dairy industry, promoting milk as
the best source of calcium. All
United States schools
that are a part of the federally funded
National School Lunch Act
National School Lunch Act are
required by the federal government to provide milk for all students.
The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends that healthy adults
between ages 19 and 50 get about 1,000 mg of calcium per
Milk production is also resource intensive. On a global weighted
average, for the production of a given volume of milk, a thousand
times as much water has to be used.
Varieties and brands
Glass milk bottle used for home delivery service in the UK
Milk products are sold in a number of varieties based on types/degrees
additives (e.g. vitamins, flavourings)
age (e.g. cheddar, old cheddar)
coagulation (e.g. cottage cheese)
farming method (e.g. organic, grass-fed)
fat content (e.g. half and half, 3% fat milk, 2% milk, 1% milk, skim
fermentation (e.g. buttermilk)
flavoring (e.g. chocolate and strawberry)
homogenization (e.g. cream top)
packaging (e.g. bottle, carton, bag)
pasteurization (e.g. raw milk, pasteurized milk)
reduction or elimination of lactose
species (e.g. cow, goat, sheep)
sweetening (e.g., chocolate and strawberry milk)
water content (e.g. dry milk powder, condensed milk, ultrafiltered
Milk preserved by the
UHT process does not need to be refrigerated
before opening and has a much longer shelf life (six months) than milk
in ordinary packaging. It is typically sold unrefrigerated in the UK,
US, Europe, Latin America, and Australia.
Reduction or elimination of lactose
Lactose-free milk can be produced by passing milk over lactase enzyme
bound to an inert carrier. Once the molecule is cleaved, there are no
lactose ill effects. Forms are available with reduced amounts of
lactose (typically 30% of normal), and alternatively with nearly 0%.
The only noticeable difference from regular milk is a slightly sweeter
taste due to the generation of glucose by lactose cleavage. It does
not, however, contain more glucose, and is nutritionally identical to
Finland, where approximately 17% of the Finnish-speaking population
has hypolactasia, has had "HYLA" (acronym for hydrolysed lactose)
products available for many years.
Lactose of low-lactose level cow's
milk products, ranging from ice cream to cheese, is enzymatically
hydrolysed into glucose and galactose. The ultra-pasteurization
process, combined with aseptic packaging, ensures a long shelf life.
Valio launched a lactose-free milk drink that is not sweet
like HYLA milk but has the fresh taste of ordinary milk. Valio
patented the chromatographic separation method to remove lactose.
Valio also markets these products in Sweden, Estonia, Belgium,
and the United States, where the company says ultrafiltration is
In the UK, where an estimated 4.7% of the population are affected by
Lactofree produces milk, cheese, and yogurt
products that contain only 0.03% lactose.
To aid digestion in those with lactose intolerance, milk with added
bacterial cultures such as
Lactobacillus acidophilus ("acidophilus
milk") and bifidobacteria ("a/B milk") is available in some
areas. Another milk with
Lactococcus lactis bacteria cultures
("cultured buttermilk") often is used in cooking to replace the
traditional use of naturally soured milk, which has become rare due to
the ubiquity of pasteurization, which also kills the naturally
occurring Lactococcus bacteria.
Lactose-free and lactose-reduced milk can also be produced via ultra
filtration, which removes smaller molecules such as lactose and water
while leaving calcium and proteins behind.
Milk produced via these
methods has a lower sugar content than regular milk.
Additives and flavoring
In areas where the cattle (and often the people) live indoors,
commercially sold milk commonly has vitamin D added to it to make up
for lack of exposure to UVB radiation.
Reduced-fat milks often have added vitamin A palmitate to compensate
for the loss of the vitamin during fat removal; in the United States
this results in reduced fat milks having a higher vitamin A content
than whole milk.
Milk often has flavoring added to it for better taste or as a means of
Chocolate milk has been sold for many years and has
been followed more recently by strawberry milk and others. Some
nutritionists have criticized flavored milk for adding sugar, usually
in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, to the diets of children who
are already commonly obese in the US.
Returning reusable glass milk bottles, used for home delivery service
in the UK
A glass bottle of non-homogenized, organic, local milk from the US
state of California. American milk bottles are generally rectangular
in shape
A rectangular milk jug design used by
Sam's Club stores in
United States which allows for stacking and display of filled
containers rather than being shipped to the store in milk crates and
manual loading into a freezer display rack
Due to the short shelf life of normal milk, it used to be delivered to
households daily in many countries; however, improved refrigeration at
home, changing food shopping patterns because of supermarkets, and the
higher cost of home delivery mean that daily deliveries by a milkman
are no longer available in most countries.
Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand, prior to metrication, milk was generally
distributed in 1 pint (568ml) glass bottles. In
Australia and Ireland
there was a government funded "free milk for school children" program,
and milk was distributed at morning recess in 1/3 pint bottles. With
the conversion to metric measures, the milk industry were concerned
that the replacement of the pint bottles with 500ml bottles would
result in a 13.6% drop in milk consumption; hence, all pint bottles
were recalled and replaced by 600 mL bottles. With time, due to the
steadily increasing cost of collecting, transporting, storing and
cleaning glass bottles, they were replaced by cardboard cartons. A
number of designs were used, including a tetrahedron which could be
close-packed without waste space, and could not be knocked over
accidentally. (slogan: No more crying over spilt milk.) However, the
industry eventually settled on a design similar to that used in the
Milk is now available in a variety of sizes in cardboard cartons
(250 mL, 375 mL, 600 mL, 1 liter and 1.5 liters) and
plastic bottles (1, 2 and 3 liters). A significant addition to the
marketplace has been "long-life" milk (UHT), generally available in 1
and 2 liter rectangular cardboard cartons. In urban and suburban areas
where there is sufficient demand, home delivery is still available,
though in suburban areas this is often 3 times per week rather than
daily. Another significant and popular addition to the marketplace has
been flavored milks – for example, as mentioned above, Farmers Union
Iced Coffee outsells
Coca-Cola in South Australia.
In rural India, milk is home delivered, daily, by local milkmen
carrying bulk quantities in a metal container, usually on a bicycle.
In other parts of metropolitan India, milk is usually bought or
delivered in plastic bags or cartons via shops or supermarkets.
The current milk chain flow in
India is from milk producer to milk
collection agent. Then it is transported to a milk chilling center and
bulk transported to the processing plant, then to the sales agent and
finally to the consumer.
A 2011 survey by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
found that nearly 70 per cent of samples had not conformed to the
standards set for milk. The study found that due to lack of hygiene
and sanitation in milk handling and packaging, detergents (used during
cleaning operations) were not washed properly and found their way into
the milk. About eight per cent of samples in the survey were found to
have detergents, which are hazardous to health.
In Pakistan, milk is supplied in jugs.
Milk has been a staple food,
especially among the pastoral tribes in this country.
Since the late 1990s, milk-buying patterns have changed drastically in
the UK. The classic milkman, who travels his local milk round (route)
using a milk float (often battery powered) during the early hours and
delivers milk in 1 pint glass bottles with aluminium foil tops
directly to households, has almost disappeared. Two of the main
reasons for the decline of UK home deliveries by milkmen are household
refrigerators (which lessen the need for daily milk deliveries) and
private car usage (which has increased supermarket shopping). Another
factor is that it is cheaper to purchase milk from a supermarket than
from home delivery. In 1996, more than 2.5 billion liters of milk were
still being delivered by milkmen, but by 2006 only 637 million liters
(13% of milk consumed) was delivered by some 9,500 milkmen. By
2010, the estimated number of milkmen had dropped to 6,000.
Assuming that delivery per milkman is the same as it was in 2006, this
means milkmen deliveries now only account for 6–7% of all milk
consumed by UK households (6.7 billion liters in 2008/2009).
Almost 95% of all milk in the UK is thus sold in shops today, most of
it in plastic bottles of various sizes, but some also in milk cartons.
Milk is hardly ever sold in glass bottles in UK shops.
Getting milk at the back door ~ 1940
In the United States, glass milk bottles have been replaced mostly
with milk cartons and plastic jugs. Gallons of milk are almost always
sold in jugs, while half gallons and quarts may be found in both paper
cartons and plastic jugs, and smaller sizes are almost always in
The "half pint" .5 US pints (0.24 l; 0.42 imp pt) milk
carton is the traditional unit as a component of school lunches,
though some companies have replaced that unit size with a plastic
bottle, which is also available at retail in 6- and 12-pack size.
Glass milk bottles are now rare. Most people purchase milk in bags,
plastic bottles, or plastic-coated paper cartons.
light from fluorescent lighting can alter the flavor of milk, so many
companies that once distributed milk in transparent or highly
translucent containers are now using thicker materials that block the
Milk comes in a variety of containers with local variants:
Commonly sold in 1 liter bags and cardboard boxes. The bag is then
placed in a plastic jug and the corner cut off before the milk is
Australia and New Zealand
Distributed in a variety of sizes, most commonly in aseptic cartons
for up to 1.5 liters, and plastic screw-top bottles beyond that with
the following volumes; 1.1 L, 2 L, and 3 L. 1 liter
milk bags are starting to appear in supermarkets, but have not yet
proved popular. Most UHT-milk is packed in 1 or 2 liter paper
containers with a sealed plastic spout.
Used to be sold in cooled 1 liter bags, just like in South Africa.
Today the most common form is 1 liter aseptic cartons containing UHT
skimmed, semi-skimmed or whole milk, although the plastic bags are
still in use for pasteurized milk. Higher grades of pasteurized milk
can be found in cartons or plastic bottles. Sizes other than 1 liter
1.33 liter plastic bags (sold as 4 liters in 3 bags) are widely
available in some areas (especially the Maritimes, Ontario and
Quebec), although the 4 liter plastic jug has supplanted them in
western Canada. Other common packaging sizes are 2 liter, 1 liter, 500
mL, and 250 mL cartons, as well as 4 liter, 1 liter, 250 mL
aseptic cartons and 500 mL plastic jugs.
Distributed most commonly in aseptic cartons for up to 1 liter, but
smaller, snack-sized cartons are also popular. The most common
flavors, besides the natural presentation, are chocolate, strawberry
Sweetened milk is a drink popular with students of all ages and is
often sold in small plastic bags complete with straw. Adults not
wishing to drink at a banquet often drink milk served from cartons or
Sells milk in 1 liter plastic bags.
Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro
UHT milk (trajno mlijeko/trajno mleko/трајно млеко) is sold
in 500 mL and 1 L (sometimes also 200 mL) aseptic cartons.
UHT pasteurized milk (svježe mlijeko/sveže mleko/свеже
млеко) is most commonly sold in 1 L and 1.5 L PET
bottles, though in
Serbia one can still find milk in plastic bags.
Commonly sold in 1 L bags or 0.33 L, 0.5 L, 1 L or 1.5 L cartons.
Parts of Europe
Sizes of 500 mL, 1 liter (the most common), 1.5 liters, 2 liters and 3
liters are commonplace.
Commonly sold in 1 L or 1.5 L cartons, in some places also in
2 dl and 5 dl cartons.
Commonly sold in 1-liter cartons. Sale in 1-liter plastic bags (common
in the 1980s) now rare.
Milk is sold in glass bottles (220 mL), cartons (236 mL and 1 L),
plastic jugs (2 liters) and aseptic cartons (250 mL).
Commonly sold in 500 mL plastic bags and in bottles in some parts like
in west. It is still customary to serve the milk boiled, despite
Milk is often buffalo milk.
Flavored milk is sold in
most convenience stores in waxed cardboard containers. Convenience
stores also sell many varieties of milk (such as flavored and
ultra-pasteurized) in different sizes, usually in aseptic cartons.
Usually sold in 1 liter cartons, but smaller, snack-sized cartons are
A plastic bag of milk in Israel.
UHT milk is most commonly sold in 1 liter waxed cardboard boxes
and 1 liter plastic bags. It may also be found in 1.5 L and
2 L waxed cardboard boxes, 2 L plastic jugs and 1 L plastic
UHT milk is available in 1 liter (and less commonly also in
0.5 L) carton "bricks".
Commonly sold in 1 liter waxed paperboard cartons. In most city
centers there is also home delivery of milk in glass jugs. As seen in
China, sweetened and flavored milk drinks are commonly seen in vending
Kenya is mostly sold in plastic-coated aseptic paper cartons
supplied in 300 mL, 500 mL or 1 liter volumes. In rural areas, milk is
stored in plastic bottles or gourds. The standard unit of
measuring milk quantity in
Kenya is a liter.
Milk is supplied in 500 mL plastic bags and carried in jugs from rural
to cities for selling
Milk is supplied in 1000 mL plastic bottles and delivered from
factories to cities for selling.
UHT milk is mostly sold in aseptic cartons (500 mL, 1 L,
2 L), and non-
UHT in 1 L plastic bags or plastic bottles.
UHT is commonly boiled, despite being pasteurized.
Commonly sold in 1 liter bags. The bag is then placed in a plastic jug
and the corner cut off before the milk is poured.
Sold in cartons (180 mL, 200 mL, 500 mL 900 mL,
1 L, 1.8 L, 2.3 L), plastic jugs (1 L and
1.8 L), aseptic cartons (180 mL and 200 mL) and plastic bags (1
The milk section in a Swedish grocery store.
Commonly sold in 0.3 L, 1 L or 1.5 L cartons and
sometimes as plastic or glass milk bottles.
Commonly sold in 500 mL or 1L cartons or special plastic bottles. UHT
milk is more popular. Milkmen also serve in smaller towns and
Most stores stock imperial sizes: 1 pint (568 mL), 2 pints
(1.136 L), 4 pints (2.273 L), 6 pints (3.408 L) or a
combination including both metric and imperial sizes. Glass milk
bottles delivered to the doorstep by the milkman are typically
pint-sized and are returned empty by the householder for repeated
Milk is sold at supermarkets in either aseptic cartons or HDPE
bottles. Supermarkets have also now begun to introduce milk in bags,
to be poured from a proprietary jug and nozzle.
Commonly sold in gallon (3.78 L), half-gallon (1.89 L) and
quart (0.94 L) containers of natural-colored HDPE resin, or, for
sizes less than one gallon, cartons of waxed paperboard. Bottles made
of opaque PET are also becoming commonplace for smaller, particularly
metric, sizes such as one liter. The US single-serving size is usually
the half-pint (about 240 mL). Less frequently, dairies deliver milk
directly to consumers, from coolers filled with glass bottles which
are typically half-gallon sized and returned for reuse. Some
convenience store chains in the
United States (such as
Kwik Trip in
the Midwest) sell milk in half-gallon bags, while another rectangular
cube gallon container design used for easy stacking in shipping and
displaying is used by warehouse clubs such as
Costco and Sam's Club,
along with some
Pasteurized milk is commonly sold in 1 liter bags and
ultra-pasteurized milk is sold in cardboard boxes called Tetra Briks.
Non-pasteurized milk is forbidden. Until the 1960s no treatment was
applied; milk was sold in bottles. As of 2017[update], plastic jugs
used for pouring the bags, or "sachets", are in common use.
Practically everywhere, condensed milk and evaporated milk are
distributed in metal cans, 250 and 125 mL paper containers and
100 and 200 mL squeeze tubes, and powdered milk (skim and whole)
is distributed in boxes or bags.
Spoilage and fermented milk products
See also: Fermented milk products
Yakult, a probiotic milk-like product made by fermenting a mixture of
skimmed milk with a special strain of the bacterium Lactobacillus
Gourd used by Kalenjins to prepare a local version of fermented milk
When raw milk is left standing for a while, it turns "sour". This is
the result of fermentation, where lactic acid bacteria ferment the
lactose in the milk into lactic acid. Prolonged fermentation may
render the milk unpleasant to consume. This fermentation process is
exploited by the introduction of bacterial cultures (e.g. Lactobacilli
Leuconostoc sp., etc.) to produce a variety of
fermented milk products. The reduced pH from lactic acid accumulation
denatures proteins and causes the milk to undergo a variety of
different transformations in appearance and texture, ranging from an
aggregate to smooth consistency. Some of these products include sour
cream, yogurt, cheese, buttermilk, viili, kefir, and kumis. See Dairy
product for more information.
Pasteurization of cow's milk initially destroys any potential
pathogens and increases the shelf life, but
eventually results in spoilage that makes it unsuitable for
consumption. This causes it to assume an unpleasant odor, and the milk
is deemed non-consumable due to unpleasant taste and an increased risk
of food poisoning. In raw milk, the presence of lactic acid-producing
bacteria, under suitable conditions, ferments the lactose present to
lactic acid. The increasing acidity in turn prevents the growth of
other organisms, or slows their growth significantly. During
pasteurization, however, these lactic acid bacteria are mostly
In order to prevent spoilage, milk can be kept refrigerated and stored
between 1 and 4 °C (34 and 39 °F) in bulk tanks. Most milk
is pasteurized by heating briefly and then refrigerated to allow
transport from factory farms to local markets. The spoilage of milk
can be forestalled by using ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment.
Milk so treated can be stored unrefrigerated for several months until
opened but has a characteristic "cooked" taste. Condensed milk, made
by removing most of the water, can be stored in cans for many years,
unrefrigerated, as can evaporated milk. The most durable form of milk
is powdered milk, which is produced from milk by removing almost all
water. The moisture content is usually less than 5% in both drum- and
spray-dried powdered milk.
Freezing of milk can cause fat globule aggregation upon thawing,
resulting in milky layers and butterfat lumps. These can be dispersed
again by warming and stirring the milk. It can change the taste
by destruction of milk-fat globule membranes, releasing oxidized
Use in other food products
Steamed milk is used in a variety of espresso-based coffee beverages.
Milk is used to make yogurt, cheese, ice milk, pudding, hot chocolate
and french toast.
Milk is often added to dry breakfast cereal,
porridge and granola.
Milk is often served in coffee and tea. Steamed
milk is used to prepare espresso-based drinks such as cafe latte.
Language and culture
Abhisheka ritual in
Agara, Bangalore Rural
Agara, Bangalore Rural District, Karnataka
The importance of milk in human culture is attested to by the numerous
expressions embedded in our languages, for example, "the milk of human
kindness", the expression "there's no use crying over spilt milk"
(which means don't "be unhappy about what cannot be undone"), "don't
milk the ram" (this means "to do or attempt something futile") and
"Why buy a cow when you can get milk for free?" (which means "why pay
for something that you can get for free otherwise."). In ancient
Greek mythology, the goddess
Hera spilled her breast milk after
refusing to feed Heracles, resulting in the
Milky Way in the sky.
In many African and Asian countries, butter is traditionally made from
fermented milk rather than cream. It can take several hours of
churning to produce workable butter grains from fermented milk.
Holy books have also mentioned milk. The Bible contains references to
the 'Land of
Milk and Honey'. In the Qur'an, there is a request to
wonder on milk as follows: 'And surely in the livestock there is a
lesson for you, We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies
from the midst of digested food and blood, pure milk palatable for the
drinkers.'(16-The Honeybee, 66). The
Ramadan fast is traditionally
broken with a glass of milk and dates.
Abhisheka is conducted by Hindu and Jain priests, by pouring libations
on the image of a deity being worshipped, amidst the chanting of
mantras. Usually offerings such as milk, yogurt, ghee, honey may be
poured among other offerings depending on the type of abhishekam being
A milksop is an "effeminate spiritless man," an expression which is
attested to in the late 14th century.
Milk toast is a dish
consisting of milk and toast. Its soft blandness served as inspiration
for the name of the timid and ineffectual comic strip character Caspar
Milquetoast, drawn by
H. T. Webster
H. T. Webster from 1924 to 1952. Thus, the
term "milquetoast" entered the language as the label for a timid,
shrinking, apologetic person.
Milk toast also appeared in Disney's
Follow Me Boys
Follow Me Boys as an undesirable breakfast for the aging main
character Lem Siddons.
To "milk" someone, in the vernacular of many English-speaking
countries, is to take advantage of the person, by analogy to the way a
farmer "milks" a cow and takes its milk. The word "milk" has had many
slang meanings over time. In the 19th century, milk was used to
describe a cheap and very poisonous alcoholic drink made from
methylated spirits (methanol) mixed with water. The word was also used
to mean defraud, to be idle, to intercept telegrams addressed to
someone else, and a weakling or 'milksop'. In the mid-1930s, the word
was used in
Australia meaning to siphon gas from a car.
Besides serving as a beverage or source of food, milk has been
described as used by farmers and gardeners as an organic fungicide and
fertilizer, however, its effectiveness is debated.
Diluted milk solutions have been demonstrated to provide an effective
method of preventing powdery mildew on grape vines, while showing it
is unlikely to harm the plant.
Babcock test (determines the butterfat content of milk)
Blocked milk duct
Fermented milk products
Human breast milk
List of dairy products
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