Protecting the Safety of Milk

J.E. Rushing


Grade A milk is carefully produced, processed and packaged in order to protect the safety of the consumer. Pasteurized milk can readily spoil and could cause foodborne illness if not properly protected.

Refrigeration is the single most important factor in maintaining the safety of milk. By law, Grade A milk must be maintained at a temperature of 45oF or below. However, temperatures well below 40oF are necessary to protect the milk's quality. It is critical that these temperatures be maintained through warehousing, distribution, delivery and storage.

Protecting Milk

Important Facts

Infants, pregnant mothers, the elderly and those taking certain drug therapies are most threatened by spoiled milk. Bacteria which grow in warm milk may cause serious illness and even death. It is important that everyone who handles milk understands this danger.

Properly refrigerated, milk can withstand about 2 weeks storage. As the product is allowed to warm, the bacteria grow more rapidly. The cooler milk is kept above 32oF, the longer it lasts, and the safer it is. In addition, milkborne illness bacteria will not grow below 45oF.

For more information:

1. Contact your county Cooperative Extension Office.
2. Call your milk supplier.

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A & T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

FOOD SAFETY FSE 93-4 [08-93]

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