How you are a pawn in the profit of permeate

I have a rule never to blog while I’m angry, so there’s been a distinct lack of activity on Milk Maid Marian over the last week. In the end, I’ve decided to simply lay out the facts:

- Permeate is a natural part of milk, not a waste product of the cheese making process. In fact, if you sit unhomogenised milk still long enough, the permeate settles out all by itself very clearly. In other words, there is no such thing as pure milk without permeate.

- Permeate is the milk’s sugar, minerals and vitamins.

- The composition of milk (fat and protein especially) straight from the cow fluctuates wildly over the course of a year but consumers want milk that is the same all year round. Consumers also want to be able to choose skim and full cream milks.

- We call ironing out the bumps and providing the specific fat and protein content of the milk “standardisation”.

- The very small producers do not have the technology to separate all the different parts of milk to make lots of different products (like powder, casein, whey, etc). Generally, all they can do is separate the cream from the milk, which is how they standardise it.

- The larger milk companies cannot limit themselves to the tiny niches of these smaller companies, so make food ingredients as well (like the stuff that goes in sports drinks, pizza crusts, etc). This means that the milk is broken into its constituents (which include permeate) with a filter then re-mixed to standardise milk. This is what the term “modified milk” on cartons means – still 100% pure milk.

- Consumer group Choice has done lots of work on permeate and their tests confirm no taste or nutritional difference between milk that has permeate remixed and that without.

- Permeate is nothing new – been part of milk processing for years and years.

- Small and specialty milk processors need to find a point of difference in order to make milk sales viable because their cost of production is much higher.

Draw your own conclusions!

6 Comments

Filed under Dairy Products, Milk quality

6 responses to “How you are a pawn in the profit of permeate

  1. Well said Marian and for what it’s worth I recommend everyone to buy a milk they consider good value (products are available for every different budget. Experiment and pick a product with a taste you like and then get on and enjoy it – safe in the knowledge that it is a healthy source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Milk facts can be found here http://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/Dairy-food-and-recipes/Dairy-Products/Milk/Milk-facts.aspx – and yes, I’m a dairy australia employee.

  2. I agree with Julie about the ability of people to choose a milk suitable to their budget and their idea of value. The use of fear to get people to buy or avoid certain products is sad. Many consumers are looking for a relationship of trust with whoever they are purchasing from.
    Surely a smaller producer with a well researched and defined market can exist alongside larger producers due to a point of difference such as a single breed origin, or an organic enterprise, etc, and by taking pride in what they do, not running down another through fear tactics and misinformation.
    Life in the dairy industry is tough and surely sticking together is desirable, particularly in the face of price wars set by our supermarkets. Surely there is more power in a cohesive representation?

    • milkmaidmarian

      Yes, it’s a real shame that some milk processors have tried to profit out of frightening mums and dads into buying their products. As a mum, I know how hard it is to balance the budget, so to have a scare campaign around such a healthy staple food as milk is really unfair on shoppers. As a farmer, I feel betrayed.

  3. dr gary porter

    I am a gp . I grew up ona dairy farm with jersey milk. Two of my kids gave up drinking milk due to stomach upset even though they weren’t lactose intolerant or allergic to milk .As adults they both independently found they could drink A2 milk . I decided to buy it also quite independtly and loved the taste ( it was the taste I grew up with and it was so much better ). I don’t know if it was permeate my two kids reacted too because it is known to cause gastric upset or whetehr it was the different protein that suited them . My ”gut ” feeling if you excuse the pun is that was the permeate . However I did look into the full story on A2 following the court case some years ago . Certainly there is a lot more to that story than came out in court but politics and large money interests conspired to squash the full truth of the inquiry/ report by the Professor Swindoll . However at the end of the day the less interference with milk the better .ust because permeate is natural does not mean more permeate is fine and perfectly healthy . In the long term it will be better for dairy farmers to get rid of it as long as the milk processors don’t screw the price down to compensate themselves

    • milkmaidmarian

      I am so pleased that your children are able to drink milk again, Gary. I know the immunologists would beg to differ on the causes.

  4. Falkiner

    The permeate episode highlights yet again that food processors take great risk when they fiddle with their product.

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