The facts about milk permeate

Tuesday, 24 Jul 12

A debate in the media has recently sparked about the addition of permeate into our milk. Some believing
it’s a ‘waste’ product that is added to milk to fill it out and make the milk cheaper. This doesn’t come as
a shock considering the milk pricing war between the major supermarkets tugging on customers loyalties
with their $1 per litre milk campaigns. But is permeate actually something for consumers to be concerned
about?

Here are the facts:

  • Permeate is a by-product of cheese making, made up of predominantly lactose as well as vitamins and minerals and is used to standardise the fat and protein content of milk throughout the year as milk can differ depending on farm, breed of the cow and the time of year
  • Manufacturers are using permeate to dilute milk as a cost-cutting strategy between the big supermarkets as it’s cheaper than using whole milk
  • Milk production is monitored by Australia’s Food Standard Code and must stay within strict nutritional limits in order to be allowed to be sold in Australia so fat and protein levels are standardised
  • Permeate is used in other packaged foods in Australia
  • Milk ingredients are usually altered in some way anyway to make them higher calcium, lower in fat etc
  • Choice has conducted some taste tests between commercial and home brand and low fat and regular milks. No taste differences were detected between commercial and home brand varieties (ie. with permeate or without permeate)
  • Manufacturers are required to list permeate on their ingredients lists. Many consumers are unhappy about this and so some milk companies are specifying on the labels ‘permeate free.’

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