About Raw Milk

  1. There’s no tastier way to drink it!
  2. No pasteurisation, homogenisation or standardisation means no nutrients or beneficial microbes are harmed in the making of it.
  3. Farmers get better prices for their milk, which is essential for the sustainability of dairy farming. Most raw milk is sold directly from the farm, so 100% of the cost goes back into running the farm.
  4. Raw milk must be produced with higher hygiene standards than when milk is produced for pasteurisation.
  5. Always from a single farm, so the unique qualities from the herd and their feed is reflected in the flavour of the milk.

Raw milk is what used to just be called milk, until the last century.  Most milk is now subjected to three processes:

  • Pasteurisation, meaning the milk is heat-treated to kill most (but not all) microbes.
  • Homogenisation, where the milk is sent through tiny jets under high pressure to break up the fat molecules into smaller ones. This keeps the fats in emulsion, preventing the cream from rising to the surface.
  • Standardisation to make a consistent fat content, which is usually done by removing some of the cream.

Raw milk is different in that after milking the animals, the milk is just filtered and cooled.  This preserves all of the inherent flavour and nutrients of the milk, including the full complex of fatty acids and amino acids.  Raw milk also has a layer of cream on top, which can easily be shaken to mix it back in if you don’t want to drink it first as a treat.

In the first half of the 20th century pasteurisation started to become widely used in the UK because of concerns about people getting sick from milk.  At that time milk was being transported from the countryside into cities unrefrigerated, and there was also a concern that bovine tuberculosis was being transferred to humans from the milk.  The nutrient-rich nature of milk makes it a good medium for bacteria to grow.  Pasteurisation was an easy solution as it kills any harmful bacteria and extends the shelf-life of the milk.  However, a lot more is lost when milk is pasteurised than just any bad bacteria!

Raw milk producers know that raw milk can be produced perfectly safely – many of us have been doing it for decades and we are passionate about it.  Much has changed since the need for pasteurisation first arose.  Milking practices are a lot more hygienic and all dairy farms are subject to regulation and inspections, but none more so than raw milk farms.  Raw milk must be tested regularly, both by the producer and by the Food Standards Agency.  The microbiological thresholds deemed acceptable in raw milk are much lower than in milk for pasteurisation.  Raw milk farms must maintain high standards of hygiene and cleanliness, and the premises and practices are inspected twice a year by a Dairy Hygiene Inspector.  The health of the animals is particularly important for raw milk producers, as animals that are unwell or under stress may impart more bacteria into the milk.  The herds on raw milk farms are tested annually for bovine tuberculosis and the milk can only be sold raw if the herd maintains its ‘officially TB free’ status.  Brucella was eradicated from Britain in 1979, but milk is still tested quarterly to ensure it remains absent from our herds.

In the first half of the 20th century pasteurisation started to become widely used in the UK because of concerns about people getting sick from milk.  At that time milk was being transported from the countryside into cities unrefrigerated, and there was also a concern that bovine tuberculosis was being transferred to humans from the milk.  The nutrient-rich nature of milk makes it a good medium for bacteria to grow.  Pasteurisation was an easy solution as it kills any harmful bacteria and extends the shelf-life of the milk.  However, a lot more is lost when milk is pasteurised than just any bad bacteria!

Raw milk producers know that raw milk can be produced perfectly safely – many of us have been doing it for decades and we are passionate about it.  Much has changed since the need for pasteurisation first arose.  Milking practices are a lot more hygienic and all dairy farms are subject to regulation and inspections, but none more so than raw milk farms.  Raw milk must be tested regularly, both by the producer and by the Food Standards Agency.  The microbiological thresholds deemed acceptable in raw milk are much lower than in milk for pasteurisation.  Raw milk farms must maintain high standards of hygiene and cleanliness, and the premises and practices are inspected twice a year by a Dairy Hygiene Inspector.  The health of the animals is particularly important for raw milk producers, as animals that are unwell or under stress may impart more bacteria into the milk.  The herds on raw milk farms are tested annually for bovine tuberculosis and the milk can only be sold raw if the herd maintains its ‘officially TB free’ status.  Brucella was eradicated from Britain in 1979, but milk is still tested quarterly to ensure it remains absent from our herds.

Raw Milk Producers Association (RMPA) was established in 2019 to promote best practice in producing high quality, safe raw milk.  We are a co-operative society made up of dedicated and passionate dairy farms committed to this goal.  RMPA works constructively with regulators to ensure the interests of producers and consumers of raw milk are represented.

RMPA supports its members through providing a network for sharing advice, ideas, information and training that enable us to stay up to date and continually learn and improve our practices to make the best milk possible.

We believe so!  Raw milk farmers hear regularly from customers who experience an improvement in their health or a condition after switching to raw milk.  Unfortunately, there is not sufficient research to provide any definitive answers on any health benefits of raw milk.  There are a number of studies which do show a correlation between raw milk and positive health effects, or with pasteurisation and negative health effects.

Milk is a whole food, containing a range of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, as well as a number of vitamins and minerals.  Studies have shown that pasteurisation reduces concentrations of some nutrients such as Vitamins E, B12, B2, C and folate.  Some of the vitamins in milk, such as Vitamins D and A, are fat-soluble and can be lost through skimming, standardising, homogenising or if the fats are damaged through transporting and processing milk.  Some studies have shown that the absorption of Vitamin D and of Calcium are reduced in pasteurised milk.

Like human mothers, mothers of other species also pass on enzymes and immune-system supporting factors into their milk.  Many of these are quite delicate and are destroyed or reduced in pasteurisation.  A number of studies have found a correlation between drinking raw milk and reduced incidence of asthma and chronic allergies in children.

There is a growing awareness of how important bacteria are to our health, and it is widely accepted that a healthy microbiome includes a diversity of bacteria and performs many functions in our body.  Eating foods that contain both bacteria and food for the bacteria supports our microbiome.  Raw milk is a natural and diverse pro-biotic containing lactobacilli and bifidobacterium amongst many others.  When milk is heat-treated the bacteria that thrive at our body temperature are killed, leaving only dead bacteria and ones that survive at a higher temperature.

Many people with diagnosed or undiagnosed milk intolerance report that they can drink raw milk without symptoms, although it isn’t clear what the mechanism is.  One possibility is that raw milk contains lactase enzymes that assist in digestion of the lactose, which is inactivated in pasteurisation.  Another possibility is that the denaturing and aggregation of proteins after pasteurisation make them less accessible to enzymes.