Pasteurization

Liquid milk, directly as it comes from the cow and before it has had anything done to it, is called raw milk. Because raw milk may contain disease-causing bacteria or other organisms, it is almost always pasteurized before being sold or before being processed into other products. Pasteurized milk has been heated to 161°F (72°C) and held at this temperature for 15 seconds to kill disease-causing organisms,and then quickly chilled. By law, all Grade A liquid milk and cream must be pasteurized. (Grades B and C are used in food processing and industrial uses and are rarely seen in food service or in the retail market.)

Even after pasteurizing, milk and cream are highly perishable products. Some cream products are ultra-pasteurized to extend their shelf life. By heating the product to a much higher temperature (275°F/135°C) for 4 seconds, this process kills not only disease-causing bacteria but nearly all organisms that cause spoilage. Ultra-pasteurized products must still be refrigerated both before and after opening.

Ultra-High-Temperature (UHT) pasteurization involves even higher temper-atures.The resulting product is packed into sterile cartons. If the cartons are unopened, the milk will keep at room temperature for up to 10 months. Once opened, the milk must be refrigerated like regular pasteurized milk. UHT milk has a somewhat cooked taste and is better suited to cooking than for drinking as a beverage.

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