Homogenisation – what do you think?

Homogenisation is a mechanical process which breaks up the fat globules of cream in whole and semi-skimmed milk, and distributes them throughout the liquid so that they do not float to the top. Basically it gets rid of the cream layer. There are a number of reasons why this is done; it is said to reduce the ‘fatty sensation’ of whole milk, which producers believe consumers do not want; it increases the whiteness of the milk, making it more appealing to customers (when sold in transparent bottles), but most of all it creates a liquid of uniform consistency, avoiding the development of a cream plug which can cause problems when processing milk on huge scales.

We have an interesting situation here at Riverford because at our Devon dairy we don’t homogenise. We like to give people the option of giving the carton a shake if they want the cream mixed through the milk, or to have a nice glob of cream on their cereal if they so fancy. Meanwhile a survey sent out by Acorn Dairy, our organic milk producer in North-East England came back saying the majority of their customers wanted homogenised milk as they think it tastes better in tea. Which do you prefer?

89 responses to “Homogenisation – what do you think?

  1. Please leave it alone. One of the things I love about your products is that they are not “messed about” with. Surely if we don’t like the cream we can all just shake.

  2. An interesting debate – I’ve just been having related conversations with my colleagues around whether homogenisation affects how milk is digested. Are you aware of any evidence around this? There seems to be some evidence around pasteurisation affecting digestibility, but less certainty around homogenisation.

  3. I prefer milk un-homogenised. Definitely, without question! It’s almost impossible to buy it though and I think there should be a choice in our shops.

  4. I like Riverford milk as it is. The whiteness of milk is not a selling point to me. If anything, the idea that milk would be processed further just to make it whiter is a turn off. I don’t mind giving it a shake especially if it means saving my milk from extra processing. I can’t say I’ve done a tea taste test, but I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference.

  5. Un-homogenised every time! In fact I would choose that over organic (if the organic is homogenised). Lots of my family are lactose intolerant to a greater or lesser degree and they all find that un-homogenised is far more digestible and produces less unpleasant effects! Homogenisation is there to please supermarkets who like milk with a long shelf life.

  6. Homogenisation lost us the ‘cream-line’ in our favorite milks and made us less connected with the seasonal variation in butterfat given it all became standardised as a result- worst the price didn’t reflect that the dairies ‘cream-off’ an extra margin through reducing the fat in ordinary milk. but what of the free radicals that are generated as result of the process? not very Organic – generating something that might turn out to be detrimental to our health- lets keep the cream (its where the vitamins are) and keep it natural- and re educate as to why homogenisation is not always a great idea

  7. Please do not homogenise the milk! I can find homogenised milk anwhere. I like my milk as pure and natural as possible!

  8. If the two benefits are it looks more uniform (under the assumption that uniform equates to better) and it’s easier to process in large quantities then I can honestly say that neither of these are of any benefit to me. I also dislike the texture of homogonised milk so with one disadvantage and no advantages I’m actively seek out non homogenised milk. Milk is a natural product and colour and texture does vary naturally, why should we pretend it’s a plastic based product by massaging it into something characterless and uniform?

    Perhaps I’m a special case though as I also much prefer “raw” or unpasteurised milk given the choice, there are two or three places within an hours drive of here that do it but none that I’m able to get to on a regular basis so this remains something for special occasions.

  9. I’ve not bought your milk, but I miss having un-homogenised full fat milk on my breakfast, so I’m tempted to buy it now!

  10. I’m in the North-East, I don’t buy your milk because it is homogenised, if you stop I’ll buy it, simple as 🙂

  11. Thanks for this – it does explain to me why some plastic milk cartons in the supermarket have a creamy crust at the top (Duchy Originals, for example). On a personal level, I don’t like creamy bits in my milk, but that’s me – I am not a great one for milk anyway, but do have it in tea and sauces/puddings, and very occasionally on cereal, but I prefer all food to be as natural as possible. I do buy your milk, and it’s great, and I have got used to cream forming at the top! I only like cream if it’s whipped and very thick… :0) So for me, the fewer processes it goes through, the better – keep it unhomogenised, I would say. But I think you are also preaching to the converted here…not sure you’d get as positive a response for non-homogenisation from the population at large.

  12. I assumed this would be a discussion of the potential health implications of altering the structure of the milk but for some reason it is entirely concerned with taste. There is plenty of information out there on this far more important aspect of this issue. For those who are interested the link below is not the full story but it is short and to the point:
    http://www.thehealthdetectives.co.uk/homogenised-milk/

  13. This is one of the main reasons we get your milk delievered with our veg box so please don’t change. The less done to it the better!!

  14. Alastair Rayment

    I have Riverford milk on Tuesday and Dairycrest doorstep organic bottled milk 3 days a week. So its all un homogenised. I have over the years done blind taste tests and the Riverford milk has always come out on top. But when we are on holiday we often have to have homogenised milk and they love it!
    Personally I would like it straight from the udder, but then we would have to change our life a lot! and have a cow in the garden!!

  15. Amy Godfrey Arkle

    Ah, this takes me back to the fondest memory of my grandmother who used to skim the “top of the milk” off into a tiny jug for me to pour on my cereal, much to the chagrin of the rest of the family! I felt so special! The trouble is, we’re all conditioned to believe that ‘pure white’ is better! Try your tea/coffee without milk – it’s much nicer!

  16. There is growing evidence that the increase in lactose intolerance amongst children is linked to the rise in homogenisation. Also homogenisation is worse health wise as the process of homogenisation releases a chemical which damages the inside wall of blood vessels so increasing the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. Homegenisation is all down to the prolongued shelf life for the ease of the supermarket – in this house we only drink organic un-homogenised because its “proper” milk 🙂

  17. I agree, I like my milk to be separated from the cream – I really do not like the taste of cream – it’s horrible!!

  18. i want old fashioned milk with its creamy top. i noticed a while ago all mlk from supermarkets is homogenised. this milk never seems to go ‘off’ staying relatively ok to put in my cuppa way past the date on the carton. this cant be a good thing.

  19. I love your milk becauseit tastes good and it is different from the supermarket milk!

  20. On a personal note, I love unhomogenised and wish the law was changed so you could sell raw milk. If there’s a business case that means more people will buy your milk if it’s homogenised, then I will respect your choice to change. It would be a shame but if more people are buying organic milk then that has to be a good thing. Does it have to be all or or nothing?

  21. I really dislike tea with milk anyway – the tastes don’t go together at all.

  22. Gordon Henderson

    Please leave it alone!

    I’m currently enjoying your mik as my usual supply of green-top (raw) milk delivered in glass bottlles is currently offline )-: It’s a bit of a treat to have the cream on my porridge or to use the top of the milk to make nicer yogurt!

  23. Rachael Hertogs

    we like our milk as it is 🙂

  24. StreetMotion Parkour

    Please leave the milk be! Proper milk is so hard to come by these days. Riverford is the only place I know that sells it.

  25. The milk should be left as it is. Homogenised milk affects mental health, and there has been studies which have suggested that there is a link to Alzheimers and homogenised milk.

  26. Please leave the mild as it is. This is the reason why I order milk from Riverford.

  27. I like my milk (the little I drink) as untouched as possible, so no homogenised milk for me please! Raw milk and other dairy products would be even better… One can but dream!

  28. I am totally happy with the Riverford milk. I didnt realise it wasn’t homogenised, and was surprised at first to find, as you said, the fatty bits at the top. Give it a shake, no problem. Its like milk from the old days!

  29. Please keep it as it is to give up a choice in a market flooded with homogenised. And put it in transparent bottles so we can see the cream. And how about 2 pints instead of 1 litre? Ok, moan over, please don’t homogenise it!

  30. Keep the milk unhomogenised. If you did unpasturised milk I’d be buying that – the less processing the better.

  31. Please keep it un-homogenised. Your milk is utterly delicious as it is and why muck about with food, any more than is strictly necessary. Reading the above though, seems like you’re preaching to the converted and need to spread the word further of the possible problems with homogenisation – all for the sake of whiter milk that they can display longer. Surely an extra process increases production costs too.

  32. The milk shouldn’t be tampered with – clean, grassfed milk & cream from happy, healthy cows is what we should be consuming. I’ve stopped buying pasteurised or homogenised milk – I wish you sold unpasteurised dairy products!

  33. If milk’s in plastic bottles, I prefer homogenised (I always buy organic). Unhomogenised, the cream clings to the plastic in an unlovely crust (especially when you have to store it horizontally in the fridge, though it’s better stored handle down) and the milk’s effectively skimmed for the second half of the bottle. It’s not nearly so bad with your cardboard cartons, though, and I don’t think it would be in glass, either. I’d be perfectly happy if you did decide to homogenise it though.

  34. Don’t homogenize. Please!

  35. Leave the milk as it is! It is the best tasting milk we have ever had! Just give the milk a good shake and all is good. Our children love Riverford milk and will not drink anything else!

  36. @Edward, you can buy raw milk. There is a list of people who sell it in the UK here:

    http://www.naturalfoodfinder.co.uk/unpasteurised-raw-milk-uk

  37. Sally Ann Schofield

    I pefer my milk the ‘old fashioned’ way. We used to fight over who got the ‘cream’ on our cereal when we were small and Dad usually won!! You get a bit extra when it is left the way nature intended – please leave your milk be. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Thank you.

  38. Please leave the milk just as it is; lovely!

    We thought it was great seeing the ‘Bucking Bovines’ enjoying their first taste of Spring outside.

  39. Therese Brenton

    Prefer non-homogenised

  40. The less processed the better. I toe the pasteurization line and have decided to stick w/ pasteurized until my sons are a bit older but i definitely prefer non homogenized milk.

  41. I feel the same way you at Riverford do and like to have the option of a creamy top or not as I wish. I agree that cream in tea is not nice but it’s not hard to shake the carton or stir milk in the jug before adding to tea. The creamy top is nice with soft fruit later in the summer. However, if this is going to cause you a problem I would still buy homogenised milk as I also buy double cream.

  42. In homogenized milk please! Time to worry about our health not the colour of our milk!!!!

  43. I much prefer my milk un-homogenised. I grew up in the 1940/50s and for some of the time in Devon when the milk came straght from the farm and almost half the bottle was cream which I loved on my cereal.

  44. We get our milk from a man who owns ONE cow that is free to roam on a common near where we live. She is a Jersey cow, therefore the milk is exceedingly luciously creamy. We do not boil the milk, but leave it overnight in the fridge for the cream to come to the top, then scoop the cream off in the morning to be used in the next custard or tart, or on a rubarb tart. Even after this treatment the milk is still very creamy, and we like it this way. No need to say that we do not like homogenised milk, and after having drunk unpasturised milk for the last 4-5 years, we also do not like paturised milk. The children seem to be less affected by “seasonal bugs” than their friends and I think this is partly down to being exposed to lots of beneficial bacteria, rather than to lots of antibiotics.
    So, if we had to buy milk, we would surely go un-homogenised and organic.

  45. I would love to buy milk which has not been homogenised, and it was what I was most looking forward to when I signed up for Riverford Home Delivery, but I wasn’t told that the milk supplied to customers living in Yorkshire is homogenised. I was very disappointed – I still remember the taste of milk with cream on the top with nostalgia.

  46. I was at a Weston A Price Foundation Conference in London last week end and what I learned there was of sufficient concern as to make me search on-line for a supplier of non-homogenised milk, such as yourselves. The result of the survey by Acorn Dairy may indicate that their customers prefer homogenised milk in their tea, however, could it be that their responses were a function of the way the question(s) were asked?

    As experienced dairymen, I guess you guys don’t need to be convinced about how un-natural, un-necessary, destructive the process of homogenisation is. Much more importantly, perhaps if people were aware of the growing scientific evidence of the role that homogenised milk plays in atherosclerosis and in the rapidly accelerating rates of cardiovascular disease now routinely seen, even in young people, they may well reconsider their choices and demand that ALL milk is non-homogenised.

    Please, please keep up the good that you are doing at Riverford. And do even greater good by using the money that you’d need to spend on homogenisation equipment to educate your customers to understand the emerging health issues, so that they can make informed choices.

  47. Leigh Honeyball

    When milk is homogenised the fat proteins are broken down to create a more consistent colour to the milk. This creates a protein structure that the body no longer recognises and therefore finds it hard to digest. It is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to find un homogenised milk, please leave yours Au naturale.

  48. We’ve just had some unhomogenised milk by mistake (ordered normal organic, supermarket didn’t have it so subbed Duchy Original) and it was vile! Would have been okay if we could have just shaken the cream in but it had completely solidified around the top and would only come away in chunks, so there was constantly a layer of fat floating on the top of tea etc. Yuck. Having said that, there should definitely be the choice for those who want it (and I do have fond memories of stealing the cream off the top of the milk and pouring it on my cereal as a child :)).

  49. We get raw (unpasteurised) un-homogenised milk delivered weekly by courier and it is delicious, gentle on our stomachs (I have huge stomach issues) and the cream actually doesn’t settle at the tops of the bottles for several days after it gets delivered. I don’t know if that is because it is completely fresh (less than 24 hours from the cow!) or because it hasn’t been pasteurised. Cannot Riverford put their weight behind the raw milk fight, there surely cannot be anything better for you than organic raw milk from contented cows (to quote a recent Riverford newsletter)!

  50. Please leave it un-homogenised, that’s the way it should be. The homogenised stuff doesn’t taste anywhere near the same. Especially since you advocate organic natural products.

  51. Rebecca D'Cruz

    Leave it alone! Un-homogenised please…

  52. I wouldn’t buy your milk if it were homogenised. There are health implications in homogenised milk -when the fat particles are made smaller they permeate the gut lining. In its natural state, ie, un-homogenised, this doesn’t happen. There is some research that suggest that high fat in the blood may have a causal link with homogenised milk.
    Keep it natural!! If I had the choice, I would buy it raw, that is. unpasteurised. It would be great if Riverford would get behind the raw milk producers.

  53. I prefer to buy unhomogenised milk partly because I’m old fashioned and think milk should have cream on the top and partly because, whether the research is complete or not, I suspect it is healthier. It seems logical that smaller fat particles are absorbed by the body differently. Whether the reasons are understood or not, I it is believable that homogenised milk is contributing to the high cholesterol epidemic.

  54. Unhomogenised is great, raw would be even better!

  55. Unhomogenised thank you. I am lucky to have a local farm that sells unpasteurized Jersey milk. It is SO delicious. I want things as close to source as possible.

  56. whenever I am lucky enough to have the choice I always choose unhomogenised – Prefer my food as un-tampered with as possible!

  57. My children initially found the cream globules disturbing but now don’t mind at all. I prefer unhomogenised too. Please don’t conform to sanitising our food.

  58. I prefer non-for-profit homogenised, because it tastes better & looks more real.

  59. The survey has indicated that some people “prefer” homogenised milk; it may be that it has more “curb appeal” -but were their responses a function of the way the survey questions were put? However, there appears to be no good reason for homogenisation – other than making life easier for the milk processing industry and its industrial equipment. Perhaps if more of us were aware of the substantial and well-respected body of research (from around the world) which is consistently and reliably reporting the role of homogenised milk in the etiology of a variety of chronic diseases, we would all be making buying decisions informed by health considerations rather than by cosmetics.
    Please, please keep up the good work you’re doing by allowing your customers to make the safer choice of homogenised milk. Do even greater good by diverting any resources for re-equipping plant (for yet another process which turns a gift of nature into an industrial food product) to supporting the dissemination of important research which finds it difficult to make its voice heard so your current and future customers can support you.

  60. I love your skimmed milk so not a huge issue for me. But I’d still say don’t mess with it.

  61. Of course, the above should read “the safer choice of non-homogenised milk”!!!

  62. Why not offer customers a choice – sell both homogenised and unhomogenised milk?

  63. Prefer to have raw milk if not then please Unhomogenised milk !!!

  64. We have organic and pasteurised, or whenever possible order raw milk and butter, which I prefer as it has been less messed around with and love the taste. I also totally agree with the health benefits of the less messed around with the better, there I many studies about this if you search for them, which I feel far outweigh the taste in my tea, but most people are unaware of this. My partner prefers the not so creamy milk in tea – so just shakes or uses semi-skimmed non homogenised, but likes the creamy stuff in coffee! Please leave as is and let us know if in the future you can also supply raw milk and butter ;o)

  65. For both health and taste reasons, un-homogenised. I’ve stopped buying milk from Riverford because in this area the milk comes from Acorn and is homogenised. To be honest, I can’t understand why anyone would wish to muck about with organic milk – I thought the point was, as far as possible, to maintain the natural integrity of the produce. Homogenisation is totally unnecessary.

  66. I will always buy milk un-homogenised and preferably raw. It tastes better and is healthier. I think milk is best as nature intended it to be; straight from grass fed cows and un-messed with. My belief is that pasteurisation and now homogenisation cause too many of todays health problems. Pasteurisation destroys the milks natural enzymes, denatures its proteins making them undigestible leading to intolerance and removes the natural beneficial health giving bacteria present in the milk. Other companies can provide raw milk on line, why can’t Riverford and until you can I will continue to buy elsewhere.

  67. Leave it as it is! Don’t mess with it further.

  68. I’m from the North-East and therefore the milk I’d be recieving would be homogenised.. this is why I do not buy your milk. I wish more than anything you would not homogenise the milk at Acorn Dairy so I could buy it.Don’t mess with something that is already fine!

  69. Lakeland ltd have recently started selling cheese making kits. I was interested and would love to try it, they said the cheese would be cheaper than buying it from the supermarket. The catch is it needs unhomogenised milk! I don’t drive and rely on the supermarket. My area lost its milk round years ago too, which I think was not homogenised. I could mail order organic unhomogenised at great expense. I am actually quite angry that I have lost my choice to buy ‘normal’ products. Dispite claims that supermarkets offer choice I find that choice to be between one processed packet or another. With every year that passes real food and choice dissapears from the shelves and the highstreet and its shops are declining too.
    What a bizarre notion to not like the taste of fat in milk? If you don’t like the fat get semi-skimmed or skimmed! Don’t mess with the product. Homogenisation seems to only benefit the supermarket who like the long shelf life.

  70. Agree with Kate I’m also from North-East and order your veg and meat but don’t get your milk for this reason. un-homogenised please, raw would be even better

  71. Unhomogenised please.
    I have read some frightful facts about homogensiation. The fact that the process causes digestive enzymes to be broken up and trapped in a microscopic fat bubbles that are so tiny they can pass through the stomach lining and into your bloodstream. When these enzymes escape the fat bubble, they will literally eat through your vein wall causing a tiny hole, which is subsequently patched with ‘plaster’ of cholesterol, leading to clogged arteries. Google it: there are no health benefits to this process at all, quite the reverse.

  72. We have always chosen Riverford Milk and Yoghurt because it *hasn’t* been homogenised, this is very important to us because of the associated health risks with homogenisation. http://www.realmilk.com/health/milk-homogenization-and-heart-disease/(Also we generally prefer to eat our food ‘whole’ and not mucked about with). It was actually originally why we joined Riverford as where we used to live in Cornwall I couldn’t get hold of non-homogenised milk. I have just logged on to do my order and find that now I can”t have Riverford milk, but have been changed to Acorn. I won’t be ordering Acorn milk or butter because the milk is homogenised.

    (re Acorn’s survey: Statistics and surveys are so unreliable – I bet Acorn didn’t ask Riverford customers, or people who generally buy whole foods and organic whether they liked homogenised milk. I expect they asked people wandering around supermarkets, many of whom don’t know, or ask about, what they are buying, and who have no knowledge of the health risks of homogenised milk. If they were asked whether they preferred aesthetics over health and possibly increasing their risk of heat disease, I am sure they would choose the latter ). Fortunately my local butcher – we now live in Devon – does sell non-homogenised so I will be buying my milk there now. We would much prefer the convenience of Riverford, we are also going to have to buy our butter elsewhere now too, as I notice that’s now Acorn. Riverford, we would much prefer to stay loyal to you, please don’t become a victim of your own success and start compromising on quality…your customers are intelligent people who research and know about food – we don’t want homogenisation!

  73. Marlene Crumley

    One of my favorite memories from my younger days was being the first one at the door to bring in the bottled milk that was delivered early in the morning. I’d then rip off the cap, dip my finger in, and lick the wonderful cream at the top of the bottle. It’s been many decades since I’ve been able to enjoy that thanks to homogenization. I miss the early morning home deliveries and the taste of pure milk. Everything seemed to be so much better (and tastier) then.
    By the way, I live in the U.S.A.

  74. My doctor advised me to stop drinking homogenised milk to cure my sinusitus – and guess what – stopping drinking it worked! Have a cuppa out with homogenised milk and lo and behold I get the sniffles again. Don’t do it!

  75. Non-homogenised every single time. Those that prefer the cream diffused throughout the milk always have the option of shaking the container. If the milk has been homogenised those of us who prefer the luscious creamy plug have no way of getting it back!

  76. Non homogenised milk is preferred by us which is why we purchased Calon Wen. So disappointed to find out they have started to homogenise their milk but continue to sell using their old non homogenised labels!!! I wondered why I wasn’t getting the creamy circle around the top of the bottle. If consumers of their milk didn’t want the creamy bit on the top even with semi skimmed they only had to shake the bottle so can’t understand why they have suddenly changed a superb product, must be because they sold themselves to a large co-operation? Such a shame…

  77. This is the email I sent to Calon Wen who have upset their customers by going homogenised:

    Dear Calon Wen,
    I feel that your decision to change your milk products to homogenised is a mistake to say the least. My reason for this are that your main customer base bought your milk for the very reason that it had not been put through the homogenised process. If one wanted to purchase homogenised organic milk they can buy any number of supermarket brands, organic or non-organic.
    Way back in the 1960’s, homogenised milk was introduced, and was not bought as a mainstream product. In fact it was a small part of milk sales. I know this from helping my milkman on his deliveries from the age of 9 years. During the 1970’s I worked as a milkman for Celtic Dairy in Milford Haven (I still have my copy of, “How to be a star milkman). I covered all the rounds as during that time in an area that covered Milford Haven, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Cosheston and all the surrounding outlying areas. It was in the days when the milk was collected from the farms, taken to the bottling plant and delivered to the doorstep the following day. The large majority of milk sales including schools were silver top i.e. pasteurised full fat milk. A lesser part of my delivery was Gold Top and lesser still was Homogenised and Sterilised milk. UHT milk could only be purchased through shops and was very unpopular due to the taste. My customers would complain if homogenised if delivered in error because its shelf life was shorter then the non-homogenised and also too creamy for tea and coffee.
    I believe that homogenised milk sales are only larger nowadays because the public do not have a choice, having it foisted upon them. I was very pleased when Calon Wen first set up. a. Because it was a co-operative of local farmers and b. because finally there was organic, non-homogenised milk on the market.
    Your decision with this move has taken away your leading edge in the dairy industry and now your product is just going to blend in with all the rest leaving your customers disappointed and let down.
    I urge you to reconsider your options.
    Yours sincerely,
    D. A James

  78. Don’t do it. Homogenised milk is messed-with milk! I’m a nutritionist and all my clients are advised to drink non homogenised milk but it’s getting harder to find now that Calon Wen have started homogenising. It basically leaves Duchy but not everyone has a Waitrose.

  79. Un homogenised milk all the way. Don’t mess with the it, it is utterly deliciousness as it is. If I have to buy from ‘T’ supermarket I always buy channel island milk which is full cream non homogenised. Will never again touch the homogenised milk (it is disgusting)

  80. No to homogenisation. It’s wrong for so many reasons, just stop messing with natural things. We used to buy Calon Wen as it was unhomogenised but now have no reason to.

  81. Timothy Brignall

    People who like homogenised milk have plenty of options in buying what they want – though I suspect most people don’t actually care that much. Those who, like myself, that do care & like/need non-homogenised milk are desperately keen that we retain at least some choice. PLEASE don’t reduce your superior milk to the lowest common denominator of mainstream taste!!

  82. Timothy Brignall

    … & I’d like to add that I’ve NEVER heard anyone complain that their milk is not white enough! Which focus group-led marketing genius made that nonsense up?

  83. If unhomogenised is so good then why do people complain its off when they get cream settling on the top

  84. victoria woodward

    why spoil the natural product? Just having non homogenised milk stops all the nonsense of folks asking for skimmed milk and semi-skimmed because you can do it ones-self by pouring off the cream and using the cream for cereals and for lovely milk puddings and austardsv

  85. As a former Milk recorder and then moving to a village where we used to buy our milk from a local farmer, I really like my milk unpasturised and non-homogenised. Time to return to real food.

  86. Mannika Malhotra

    Non homogenised the healthier option ☺

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