All About Colostrum

Colostrum & Pasteurization

The most crucial step in processing colostrum for human consumption is pasteurization. The following section helps to explain exactly why this is so important in providing consumers with a product that is guaranteed to be safe and effective.

Q: Why is it important for dairy products intended for human use consumption to be pasteurized?

A: The Pasteurization Marketing Ordinance (PMO), a very important standard for milk and dairy products developed by the U.S. Public Health Service, FDA, States, municipalities and research institutions, among others, gives the following public health reasons for pasteurization:

The public health value of pasteurization is unanimously agreed upon by health officials. Long experience conclusively shows its value in the prevention of disease which may be transmitted through milk. Pasteurization is the only practical, commercial measure which, if properly applied to all milk, will destroy all milkborne disease organisms. Examination of lactating animals and milk handlers, while desirable and of great value, can be done only at intervals and; therefore, it is possible for pathogenic bacteria to enter the milk for varying periods before the disease condition is discovered. Disease bacteria may also enter milk accidentally from other sources, such as flies, contaminated water, utensils, etc. It has been demonstrated that the time temperature combinations specified by this ordinance, if applied to every particle of milk, will devitalize all milkborne pathogens. Compilations of outbreaks of milkborne disease by the US Public Health Service, over many years, indicate that the risk of contracting disease from raw milk is approximately 50 times as great as from milk labeled “pasteurized”.

Q: How are dairy products pasteurized?

A: By heating every particle of a dairy product to a high enough temperature and holding it there for enough time until all living bacterial are destroyed. The table below shows temperature and times required for pasteurization under the PMO. As you can see, the higher the temperature to which the dairy product is brought, the shorter the time will be that the dairy product must be held at that temperature.

Temperature / Time
*63°C (145° F) / 30 minutes
*72°C (161° F) / 15 seconds
89°C (191° F) / 1.0 seconds
90°C (194° F) / 0.5 seconds
94°C (201° F) / 0.1 seconds
96°C (204° F) / 0.05 seconds
100°C (212° F) / 0.01 seconds

*If the fat content of the milk product is 10% or more, or if it contains added sweeteners, the specified temperature shall be increased by 3°C (5° F).

Provided, further, that nothing shall be construed as barring any other pasteurization process which has been recognized by the Food and Drug Administration to be equally efficient and which is approved by the regulatory agency.

Q: Why were the times and temperatures for pasteurization in the PMO selected?

A: They were set to fall above the time and temperature needed to destroy the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This is one of the “bad bacteria” in dairy products which is most resistant to destruction.

Q: What kinds of “bad bacteria” can exist in unpasteurized milk?

A: Staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, Escherichia coli 0157:117 (known as E. coli), Yersinia entereolitca and Listeria moncytogenes are five examples.

Q: What will cause these “bad bacteria” to grow in unpasteurized milk?

A: Heat. For this reason, USDA recommends that raw milk be stored at no more than 50° F prior to pasteurization. Bacteria produce toxins that are resistant to high temperatures, including those required for pasteurization. Even a change in cooling temperature from 50° F to 60° F will greatly increase the possibility that the pasteurized product will contain heat stable toxins, according to the USDA.

Q: Do the immunoglobulins and growth factors in colostrum survive pasteurization?

A: Tests have been carried out on colostrum (which has been flash pasteurized at 161° F for 15 seconds) show that the colostrum retains its bioactivity during this process.

Sovereign Health Initiative

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The Sovereign Health Initiative is committed to the belief that each person holds sovereignty over his or her body. We further support the principle that in order to take ownership of one’s health, it is necessary to make informed decisions through self-education. To this end, it is our aim to offer critical information to educate the public on how to live a lifetime in optimal health.

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