Market Milk

Limits of Possible Interventions

In EU member countries, EU Regulation N. 1234 defines the characteristics of market milk. Market milk is classified according to its fat content (whole fat > 3.5% by mass, m/m; partially skimmed 1.5% to 1.8% m/m; skimmed < 0.5% m/m). It is possible to pack milk with different fat contents, provided they are clearly labeled.

The same regulation identifies the operations other than fat normalization that can be legally made on market milk. Reserving that as a matter of principle it is not legal to use the designation “milk” if it is deprived of any component other than fat, EU Reg. N. 1234 envisages its enrichment with protein (>3.8% m/m) and partial or total lactose enzymatic hydrolysis. It is not clear, by the way, why the EU regulator considers it acceptable to remove fat and not lactose or glucose/galactose, while keeping the right milk designation. If part of the original glucidic content has been physically removed from milk, then it cannot be labeled milk but must be called “milk drink,” where “milk” appears only in the ingredients list.

Luckily, this is not the case in non-EU member countries. In the United States, for instance, a famous beverage company has recently launched in the domestic market a “supermilk” whose composition has been nutritionally modified by membrane techniques. This product claims to be richer in protein and calcium and lactose-free (partially removed and the rest hydrolized), and it is simply labeled “ultrafiltered milk.”

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