A picture of different types of milk products in glasses on a bench.
Fresh Milk

What is fresh milk?


The term "fresh milk" actually refers to many different types of milk.

There is no one fresh milk process, or even one kind of milk: they all contain essential vitamins and minerals, with specific differences that make each unique. 

Types of fresh milk

Regular, or full-fat milk

This milk is pasteurised (heated to destroy bacteria) and homogenised (fat is separated to make sure it doesn’t rise to the top). On average, fresh milk has 3.8% milk fat and no less than 3.2% milk fat.

Reduced-fat and low-fat milk

Low-fat milk has less than 1.5% milk fat, but contains all the same nutrients as regular milk. Low-fat milk actually contains slightly more calcium than regular milk - as the fat level is reduced, all non-fat components (like calcium) slightly increase proportionally. 

Reduced-fat milk has approximately 2% milk fat and may have extra protein and calcium added.

Skim milk

Skim milk has no more than 0.15% milk fat, with milk solids (dried milk powder) added to improve the taste and texture.

Modified milk

Modified milk may be enriched with protein, calcium, iron or have lactose (the sugar found in milk) removed. These can all help people with specific dietary requirements.

Fortified milk

Fortified milk is either full-fat or low fat milk with extra nutrients added, including calcium, vitamin D or omega-3 fatty acids. 

Ultra-filtration (UF) milk

This milk is filtered with novel technology which allows protein and calcium levels to be boosted. 

Lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk

This milk removes lactose (the sugar found in milk) so it's easier to digest for anyone with an intolerance. 

Flavoured milk

Flavours can be added to full-fat, reduced-fat, skim, modified or long-life milk. These milks may have added calcium, and they often have a higher kilojoule level than plain milk (although some may be sweetened with low-kilojoule sweeteners).

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is pasteurised milk that has a starter culture added to develop a flavour and acidity similar to natural yoghurt.

Fresh milk storage


Sunlight is detrimental to keeping milk fresh and nutritious, so fresh milk is usually packaged in cartons or opaque plastic containers.

Glass bottles are occasionally used to store milk, but keep in mind the increased exposure to light will partially destroy vitamins, like B2, and can affect the taste.

The health benefits of fresh milk are affected by storing it properly and at the right temperature. To do so, follow these general rules

  • Keep milk refrigerated at 4°C in the original package
  • The use-by date gives the expected shelf life (usually 10 days) when refrigerated at 4°C
  • Milk containers should always be covered to prevent the milk from absorbing flavours or odours from other food
  • Be aware that freezing milk can destabilise the main protein, casein, and the milk may appear slightly curdy when thawed