Interesting Information: Homogenization of Milk and Cheese

Interesting Information:  June 13, 2011

Homogenization of Milk and Cheese

Steve Bemis is a retired corporate attorney who farms hay in Michigan for local farmers.  He is also a founding Board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund–which works to insure greater access to local foods, especially raw milk.  In the Spring 2011 WAPF journal WISE TRADITIONS, Bemis poses an interesting theory about the real need for homogenization and pasteurization of milk (  The real reason, poses Bemis, might be the dairy industry’s incredibly profitable cheese business.

Let’s back up for a moment.  In my lifetime, one’s milk was delivered to the door in glass bottles.  One judged the milk by the cream line at the top of the bottle–clearly visible for all to see.  But, the dairy industry wanted that cream to make other products.  Ice cream, yes, but also cheese.

So, industry begin figuring out ways to get that cream.   How they did it was to, first, convince women that milk had to be pasteurized as real milk was unsafe–a claim never proven scientifically.  Second, they instituted, over time, a process of fractionalizing milk into parts and reconstituting some of the parts back into milk–minus all the cream.  (Whole milk might not have the whole amount of cream that came from the cow.)   Says Bemis:  “Milk, milkfat, skim milk powder and other fractions of milk are processed into cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, kefir, and other industrial component which are ubiquitous in processed and ultra-processed foods.”  Third, they successfully got the federal government to police this new terrain.  This is how industry works:  maximize profits any way possible, including gaming the information.

Processed, fractionalized milk was then homogenized, so no one could ever see the cream line again.  And, the glass bottles disappeared.  But, here’s where Bemis gets really interesting.  Once milk is homogenized, it “will go rancid within a matter of hours.”  Thus, the milk has to be pasteurized to keep it from going rancid.   “Hence,” writes Bemis, “once the dairy industry took the homogenizing step to follow the dollars, it had to pasteurize.”  Bemis continues:  “And the industry will have to stick with the gospel of pasteurizing, since their current economic structure requires it.”

Hmmmm….  Pasteurization came AFTER homogenization.  Pasteurization was NEVER about food safety.  It was about maximizing profits, fooling customers, and extending shelf life.

So, if you can’t get the whole, raw, living, healthy REAL milk, try to find a dairy that produces a cream line, even if the milk is pasteurized.  Homogenized milk is really, really processed.

Bemis then turns his attention to the cheese issue.  He asks an important question:  “Is contamination of raw milk a huge red herring keeping our eyes off a far more important reason for pasteurizing milk?”  Cheese is a keystone product for the dairy industry.  Cheese is a billion dollar business.  Cheese is probably why both the USDA and the FDA have launched even more intense, fear-based attacks against raw milk and against artisan cheese makers.

The good news, writes Bemis, is that “raw milk consumption continues to surge; FDA’s interstate ban is under legal attack, and FDA’s dogma is regularly being shown to be inconsistent, illogical and unscientific–an embarrassing and ever-deepening quandary in which the agency finds itself due to its steadfast refusal even to hold a dialogue on the subject.”

As for the USDA, one part of it promotes cheese consumption while another part (the new food guide) says its unhealthy.  How’s that for mixed agendas?  It’s time to locate any kind of government recommendations on how to eat somewhere other than the USDA and to put science back into the process.