With the ongoing pandemic, we are getting many queries regarding: which milk is best for kids; which is best for expecting mothers; and which is best for older adults?
Let us start by saying that for infants, mother’s milk is the most suitable. All other categories mentioned – kids under 10 years of age, expecting mothers and older adults with serious underlying medical conditions are considered high risk.
Cow and buffalo milk is widely available in India. Milk is a good source of calcium and protein.
Milk is available across price points, from a variety of breeds of cows and buffalos, is made available to consumers loose or across packaging types, reconstituted across fat variants, sold fresh or with shelf lives of upto 180 days, and delivered farm to table or otherwise, etc.
It is complex to choose the best and safest milk from the many options available, and over the years the dairy industry has pampered consumers, who have been served with what their preference has been.
But now, with this pandemic, should consumers take a re-look at their preferences on a temporary basis at least, till the pandemic risk is mitigated with the availability of vaccines?
This objectively highlights pros and cons of the varieties of milk available for your family in COVID ERA 2020.
There is a wide price range of milk about Rs 40- Rs 125 a litre. Price may not be the real indicator of quality. In some cases, higher price may be a result of superior branding effort or due to inefficiencies of the producer, or a higher cost structure.
FARM TO TABLE
This is the easiest way to ensure that there are no middlemen changing hands on raw milk, as that ensures points of contact are avoided and norms of distancing were followed.
Loose milk is susceptible to carrying viruses. But boiling should mitigate risk – level of risk mitigation may vary from case to case. However, contact less delivery cannot be ensured in loose milk. In packaged milk, contact less delivery can be ensure by having the pouch delivered in a bag and putting the pouch in water to clean the outer surface.
MILK UNTOUCHED BY HUMAN HANDS
In a best case scenario, there is a possibility, depending on farm infrastructure and design,that milk delivered at home has never been exposed to human hands. This is possible for integrated farms that have automated milking parlours and milk is sent through pipelines for packing after chilling. In all other scenarios, i.e. if not procuring directly from integrated farms, the exposure of milk to human hands and ambient risks cannot be avoided.
AVOID MILK FROM COWS ON ANTIBIOTICS
Prefer milk from cattle that are not injected with antibiotics and hormones. Buffalo milk typically has more chances of carrying injected hormones.
TRACEABILITY OF MILK SOURCE
Traceability of milk source is the best approach. For this again. purchase of milk from farms may be safer. These days many farms are retailing milk in pouches. A simple google search may help. If unable to locate a farm closeby, write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reconstitution of milk not only exposes milk to many contact points, it also results in milk losing its natural vitamins.
In conclusion, there are 4 basic prerequisites to ensure milk is untouched by human hands:
(a) to purchase packaged milk directly from integrated farms – no other way can this be ensured.
(b) milk from imported breeds viz. Holstein Freisens or Jersey. A2 milk and buffalo milk milk are typically touched by human hands since there is low level of mechanisation for those breeds.
(c) milk purchased is in natural form and not reconstituted.
(d) delivered directly at doorstep minimising the number of contact points.