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!