What is permeate?

Permeate refers to the natural lactose, vitamins and minerals in milk that results from a processing technique called ultrafiltration.

Last updated 17/01/2024

Permeate is made when milk is filtered through a fine 'sieve' or membrane using a technique called ultrafiltration. This filtering separates the lactose, vitamins and the minerals (collectively called permeate) from the milk protein and fat. Permeate is a valuable part of fresh milk.

As milk is a natural food that comes straight from the cow, ultrafiltration is one way to standardise the protein content in milk right throughout the year. This ensures milk has a consistent taste as well as composition, which reflects the nutrition information panel.

Permeate is not unhealthy or unnatural, however many consumers do prefer their milk without it. Some manufacturers therefore choose not to use permeate and label their milk as “Permeate free” or “no added permeate.”

Government regulations ensure that milk products conform to food standards for quality, consistency and food safety.

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