A child’s bond with milk begins from the very day he is born. To be more accurate, pregnant women are advised to drink milk as well, so as to transfer the benefits to the foetus. However, when your infant grows up to become a toddler or pre-teen, you start wondering what kind of milk would serve his nutritional needs the best. Thanks to the availability of different kinds of milk in the market, it can be indeed difficult to choose the one that is safest and healthiest. In this article, we’ll break down the science behind the different types of milk and help you decide which one you should stick to, for your kid.
Type 1: Raw milk
Raw cow’s milk has been a part of the Indian diet for several centuries now, and many people still believe that raw milk is the best source of nutrition. Now, raw milk simply refers to the milk that comes to your doorstep directly from a local, neighbourhood dairy. This milk is not pasteurised or processed in any way before it reaches you.
Raw cow’s milk is also of two types – organic and inorganic. Organic milk means that the fodder given to the cattle is organic and is not adulterated with pesticides or insecticides, whereas, inorganic milk refers to milk that comes from cows that may be fed with adulterated fodder and injected with hormones to produce more milk.
Why raw milk can be dangerous
Most people think that raw milk is healthier because it comes straight from the cow. However, raw milk is unpasteurised, which means, it can cause some severe infections. The germs in raw milk (Brucella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella) carry the risk of causing diarrhoea, cramps, and vomiting. Not only that, the consumption of raw milk can also lead to life-threatening diseases like haemolytic uremic syndrome.
When should you not be drinking raw milk?
Pregnant women, senior citizens, young children and infants, and people with compromised immune systems (people with cancer, organ transplant, HIV, etc.) should totally avoid raw milk because they face a higher risk of getting sick.
Type 2: Milk in pouches
This is one of the most popular categories of milk found in urban India. Pouch or packet milk is pasteurised and homogenised, which makes it much safer for consumption.
What is pasteurisation?
Pasteurisation refers to the process of heating milk at high temperatures over a long period of time. This kills several disease-causing germs. Milk that is available in packets undergoes this process of pasteurisation before it comes to you.
Does pasteurisation undermine the nutrients in the milk?
The essential nutrients in milk stay intact after pasteurisation. Plus, given the fact that it eliminates so many germs, the benefits of pasteurisation far outweigh the disadvantages.
Is packet milk perfectly safe for consumption?
There are two things that need to be considered here. First, packet milk is not necessarily organic. In other words, the milk may come from cows that are fed adulterated fodder or have been injected with hormones. So, no amount of pasteurisation will protect you from milk which is essentially adulterated. That’s why it’s always better to go for milk that has been certified as organic.
The second issue with packet milk is the quality of plastic that’s used in the packaging. A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2015 showed that the BPA (bisphenol A) chemical found in plastic can disrupt hormones, leading to many diseases. So when the plastic packaging in packet milk gets exposed to sunlight, the BPA can leak into the milk, resulting in contamination.
Type 3: Milk in tetra packs
This is the third type of milk, which has become popular in India only recently. The milk which comes in tetra packs is heated using either UHT (ultra-high temperatures) or HTST (high-temperature short time). In this case, the milk is heated only for a few seconds at the prescribed temperature, cooled down immediately, and then packed in tetra packs. Plus, tetra packs actually provide 6 layers of protection, which makes the milk far more long-lasting.
Compared to the other two types of milk, tetra milk is probably the safest. However, it isn’t safe from adulterated cattle fodder and artificial hormones.
While raw milk may seem like the more wholesome option, it is unpasteurised and can contain some very harmful germs. To protect your children against any infection, it’s best to go for pasteurised milk, particularly tetra pack milk.