Produced by family farmers in harmony with nature without antibiotics, synthetic hormones or pesticides. All Organic Valley dairy farms are pasture-based, meaning a major portion of the cows’ diet comes from certified organic pasture. Learn more about the nutritional qualities of pasture-raised milk.

  • Milk
  • Above and Beyond: Why Organic Valley Milk
  • Regional Milk
  • Pasteurization

Pasteurization Process of Organic Valley Milks
Organic Valley Milk is produced by our cooperative of organic family farms throughout the United States. Our milk is processed in 13 states, and available for retail sale in all 50 states. In order to cross state lines, federal law requires all milk in its final form for consumption, including Organic Valley Milk, to be pasteurized.

Traditional Pasteurization

Two types of pasteurization processes are practiced in the United States. The first, traditional pasteurization, heats milk to a required minimum temperature of 161°F for 15 seconds. This is commonly referred to as "High Temperature, Short Time," or HTST pasteurization. Heating the milk removes 99.9% of the bacteria in the milk, which gives HTST milk an approximate shelf life of 16 - 21 days from the date it was packaged.

At Organic Valley, we use HTST pasteurization for all our regionally branded gallons and half-gallons of organic milk. Since 1994, we have invested millions of dollars to ensure that we can deliver HTST pasteurized milk to our regional markets across the United States. Many people have come to appreciate the effort because they know they are supporting organic family farms near their communities through purchasing our HTST pasteurized milk. Our cooperative was built on the concept of regional milk production, and our regional milk program has become a source of pride for our regional pools of family farmers.

Ultra Pasteurization

Ultra pasteurization, the most widely used pasteurization process for milk in Europe and throughout the world, is a more recently developed process. The ultra pasteurization process is often referred to as “Ultra High Temperature,” or UHT pasteurization. The UHT process heats the milk to 280° F for only two seconds, and eliminates a larger percentage of bacteria than HTST pasteurization. When coupled with sterile packaging, the ultra pasteurization process creates an extended shelf life. UHT is gaining popularity in the United States and Canada.

We began to offer ultra pasteurized milk and cream in 1998 in response to strong consumer demand. Many people, both consumers and retailers, prefer the longer shelf life offered by the UHT process. We have also received consumer feedback stating a preference for the taste of the ultra pasteurized milk. Ultra pasteurized Organic Valley milk is offered in half gallons, quarts, and aseptic (shelf stable) liters and 8 oz. single-serves.

If you have a preference for either HTST or UHT pasteurization, please note that we offer both varieties in our half gallons. The process used to pasteurize the milk is printed on both the gable top and on the front of the package. The ultra pasteurized milk is clearly defined as "Ultra Pasteurized." Our traditionally pasteurized (HTST) regional milk is defined simply as "Pasteurized" and includes a moniker for your region below the logo; e.g. "Heartland Pastures," "Northwest Pastures," etc. If you do not find your preferred type of Organic Valley milk at your local retail store, please ask the dairy case manager or the store manager to stock it for you.

Safety and Nutrition

All milk, both conventional and organic, is a living organism when it comes out of the cow’s udder. Changes caused by live bacteria within milk can be minimized by refrigeration and pasteurization. Additionally, while the milk inside the cow's udder is sterile, it may become immediately contaminated as it exits the udder by micro-organisms residing in the teat canal, on the surface of the udder, or on the milking equipment. Pasteurization insures the safety of the milk as it goes from our farms to your table.

graph of nutritional value for different types of pasteurization.Today’s farmers are producing cleaner milk than we have ever seen in history. Unfortunately, scientific studies show that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are present on modern farms. These include antibiotic-resistant forms of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, such as Campylobacter and Staphylococcus. Pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli Listeria monocytogenes may also be present in raw milk. Pasteurization neutralizes all these pathogens.

Pasteurization has no impact on the butterfat molecule. Scientific studies do not indicate any significant nutritional difference between the protein quality of pasteurized milk versus raw milk. Riboflavin, the most important vitamin in milk (delivering 25% of our Recommended Daily Intake), is also unaffected by pasteurization. In terms of nutritional value, the primary changes that occur in pasteurization include a negligible loss of vitamins A, C and B, and Folic Acid.

Many people believe the enzymes in raw milk aid digestion and calcium absorption; however, their specific health benefits are debated within the scientific community. Both the UHT and HTST pasteurization processes reduce enzymes in the milk.

We appreciate your support of Organic Valley family farms as we continue to work toward a healthy and sustainable future, with delicious organic milk for all!

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