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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it is true that vitamins are not destroyed while processing milk (UHT)? Why is information about vitamins not included in the table of nutritional contents which appears on the side of the tetra pack?

Spain

The pasteurisation process heats milk to 70 – 75 °C for 15 seconds, inactivating or killing all of the disease-producing microorganisms in milk while preserving most of the nutritional value of milk. The UHT process ensures total microbial and enzyme inactivation, because the milk is heated up to 150 °C for 5 seconds.

Cow’s milk contains a number of vitamins, particularly group B vitamins (e.g.: riboflavin, vit B12, vit B1) and vitamin A. Although pasteurisation or UHT may result in small loses in some of these vitamins (below 20% on average), this will have a negligible effect on the nutritional value of a balanced diet. Vitamin losses resulting from processing are sometimes offset by the addition of vitamins. Some milk is also enriched with multiple vitamins.

During both processings there is little physical or chemical change in the milk fat and a denaturation of milk proteins; however the denaturation process does not affect their nutritional value. The flavour of pasteurised milk is more similar to that of fresh milk than that of UHT milk. This is due to a certain caramelisation of milk sugar that happens in the UHT processing.

One thing we should not forget is that the nutritional value is also dependent on the fat content of milk. Full-fat milk contains considerable quantities of vitamin A, B and D and calcium. Semi-skimmed or skimmed milk contain the same levels of proteins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc and B vitamin as full-fat milk, but the amount of vitamin A and D is either halved or almost non-existent.

For the labelling there is a legal requirement for much of the information that must be provided. Specific information (e.g. name of food, weight or volume, ingredients, date and storage conditions, preparation instructions, name and address of manufacturer, packer or seller, lot number) must appear on food labels by law, although there are some exceptions.

Manufacturers are not obliged by law to provide nutrition information, unless they make a nutrition claim. These additional information may be provided, such as nutrition information and cooking instructions/serving suggestions.


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The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which communicates science-based information on nutrition and health, food safety and quality, to help consumers to be better informed when choosing a well-balanced, safe and healthful diet.

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This site was last updated 26/05/2016
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