Importance of Proper Temperature Control for Raw Milk

You probably already know that Pure Food Co-op LLC recommends all milk products be kept between 33 and 40° F.
Why is the temperature so important? Proper temperature control extends the shelf life of raw milk products, preserves
the taste of the product, increases the quality of yogurt, cheese, or other foods made from raw milk products, and
reduces the risk of bacterial illness related with raw milk products.

SPC/ml, or Standard Plate Count, is obtained by culturing the milk to determine the presence of bacteria (good, bad, and neutral) in the sample. The SPC/ml of milk products is monitored by the State of Idaho for all permitted producers, usually on a monthly basis.

*Pennsylvania State University collected this data relating to the temperature of milk storage and the resulting SPC/ml count:

Milk Storage

Fresh Milk

24 hours (SPC/ml)

48 ours

40° F 4,300 4,100 4,600
50° F 4,300 14,000 1,600,000
60° F 4,300 130,000 33,000,000

This data illustrates how much the temperature at which milk products are kept greatly influences its bacteria count.
After all, raising the temperature of a product and introducing a certain bacteria is what transforms milk into yogurt or
cheese. Temperature can preserve or transform milk in both good and bad ways. Because raw milk is full of beneficial
bacteria, also contains neutral bacteria, and may contain pathogenic bacteria, all these strains of bacteria will multiply if
given the opportunity. In all cases, bacteria are inhibited from growth by proper temperature control.

When raw milk is collected from the animal, the temperature of the milk is about 100° F. Pure Food Co-op LLC’s
producers cool it to a minimum of 40° F as quickly as possible and maintain it at or below that temperature. Idaho’s
State Raw Milk Rules indicate that proper temperature should be obtained within 2 hours of milking time.

At Pure Food Co-op, we carefully monitor temperature of raw milk products both with State testing and during the
pick-up and delivery process to preserve its freshness and quality. We urge you to do the same by always leaving
adequate ice in your coolers, transferring the milk products to the refrigerator as quickly as possible, and monitoring
your fridge temperature to ensure that it is kept below 40° F.

Thank you!

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