My name is Milk………..naam toh suna hi hoga. Mujhe doodh bhi kahate hain.
I am the snowy white life-giving nectar that is every mother’s best friend and every child’s nightmare.
Every mother wants her child to have that one glass of milk in the mornings. It’s almost like a ritual. “Beta Superman banna hai to doodh piyo”…………….”Come on beta bottoms up”……….”Chalo chalo finish your glass”………….is a common refrain in most houses.
I am nature’s ideal food for infants and growing children. My importance in your diet has been recognized since Vedic times, and all modern research has only supported and reinforced this view. In fact, I am considered not only desirable but essential from the time the child is born. The baby is recommended to be breast-fed until it is weaned and thereafter given cow/buffalo/goat milk till he or she reaches 12 years of age. The National Institute of Nutrition has recommended a minimum of 300 gms daily intake of milk for children between 1-3 years of age and 250 gms for those between 10-12 years.
I am a provider of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, vitamins A, B-6, B-12, D and protein which are all essential for healthy bones and teeth and overall development. Besides supplying certain essential fatty acids, I contain the above nutrients in an easily digestible and assimilable form. All these properties make me an important food for pregnant mothers, growing children, adolescents, adults, invalids, convalescents and patients alike.
They say that it is important to change with the times. I, too, have changed. And Oh! boy………what a change it has been. All those years back, I came directly from the cows and buffaloes and was supplied to each house by “the doodhwala bhaiya”. He would come with these huge dirty looking cans on his bicycle and ring his bicycle bell right outside your house. He would then measure out the milk into your vessel while giving you a generous helping of the latest neighbourhood gossip. He would even inquire about the welfare of your family. While measuring the milk, his fingers would sometimes dip into the milk. You know hygiene was not such an important word then. I would then be boiled for a good amount of time to prevent me from spoiling. Little did they know that they were killing important nutrients in me. As they say, ignorance is bliss!
From milk cans I graduated to glass bottles which could be collected from milk booths in exchange for tokens. The bottles were a pain to transport as they were heavy as well as prone to breakages. Then came the plastic packets. Along with my packaging, my inherent nature too, changed. Man realized that in my raw form I contained numerous pathogenic and spoilage bacteria. These microorganisms, if allowed to grow, multiplied at logarithmic rate and produced many toxins and enzymes and spoilt me. Hence they started processing me by heat treatment in dairies.
I am subjected to Pasteurization which is the process of heating every particle of milk to at least 72 degrees C for 15 seconds (or to any temperature-time combination which is equally efficient), in approved and properly operated equipment. After pasteurization, I am immediately cooled to 6 degrees C or below. In this process, pathogenic and spoilage organisms are destroyed. Normally pasteurized milk is packed in sachets and should be stored under refrigeration conditions, so as to prevent the growth of organisms in milk. Pasteurized milk has a shelf life of 2 days when stored and transported under refrigeration conditions. This milk is boiled and consumed in Indian homes.
Another thing they do to me is sterilization. I am filled into bottles and heated to not less than 120 degrees C for a minimum period of 15 minutes. After heating, the bottles are gradually cooled to room temperature. Due to economic disadvantages and browning of milk, this process is used only for bottled flavored milk. This Sterilized milk has a shelf-life of not less than 3 months, even at room temperature, and can be consumed directly.
But my personal favourite is the UHT or the ultra -high temperature treatment. With this technology I have truly come of age. During the process of UHT, I am heat-treated to temperature of 137 degrees C for 4 seconds and cooled instantly which retains all my vitamins and nutritional values and in the meantime provides a zero bacteria product which needs no boiling. I am then packed in 6 layered tamper proofed Tetra-Pak packaging which prevents the milk from spoilage due to sunlight, bacteria, germs and oxygen, thus ensuring my freshness and purity. This way I can be stored without refrigeration for 90 days in Fino-Packaging and 180 days in Brick Packaging.
So, now I come to you in a clean, hygienic, safe and healthy form, attractively packed in Tetra Pak cartons which are easy to store, carry and consume. The only thing that you are missing today is the doodhwala bhaiya’s gossip. But then I guess that in our hectic lives today who has the time for that.
Phew! I have come a long way indeed.
Cheers to me!!!