January 3, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: UHT Milk

Can you tell me what UHT milk is?

I have read in some websites that it is not safe to drink it since it can cause disease.

-- Cynthia (last name withheld)

Nashville, TN

"UHT" stands for ultra-heat treated.

In the case of UHT milk, you are talking about milk that is sterilized very quickly at extremely hot temperatures -- much higher than what is reached during standard pasteurization.

Consequently, it does not need to be refrigerated until opened. It can actually sit on shelves for anywhere from six to nine months, unopened, without spoiling.

Although not popular in the United States, UHT milk has been a staple in many South American and European countries for decades (the most famous manufacturer of UHT milk is Italian company Parmalat.)

I actually drank it quite a bit when I lived in Venezuela in the mid 1990s (power outages were very common in that country at the time, so buying UHT milk was one way to guarantee an unopened container of milk wouldn't go bad.)

The claims that it "causes disease" are not only annoyingly vague, but also completely untrue.

UHT milk is simply that -- milk.

It does not have added chemicals or artificial ingredients and there is absolutely nothing about it that makes it unhealthy or "not safe to drink."

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