Milk products review

So many milk brands, so much marketing hype. CHOICE shows you where to find the real value.
 
Learn more
 
 
 
 
 
  • Updated:10 Sep 2009
 

01 .Introduction

Glasses of milk

In brief

  • Almost all milk is highly processed.
  • Generic brands are much the same quality as the major branded versions – and a lot cheaper.
  • Most people will get no real benefit from the more expensive “milk” products with added extras.
  • All milk qualifies for the description “good source of calcium”. There’s between 115mg and 120mg of calcium per 100mL, regardless of brand.

Confused by all the different types of milk at the supermarket? It’s no longer simply a matter of reaching for full-cream, light or skim milk; nowadays you have to navigate labels claiming everything from high calcium to low saturated fat and from added omega-3 to A2 proteins – not to mention the growing organic milk market. They all cost more than the generic brands of regular or low-fat milk, but are they worth the extra money?

CHOICE has skimmed off the marketing hype and found that generic brands of milk are much the same as the equivalent big national brands. What’s more, the generic brands can be half the price of branded milk.

Trawling the major supermarkets in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, we found more than 80 different brands and types of milk – an amazing number considering that milk production is dominated by just two big multinationals, Parmalat (based in Italy) and National Foods/Dairy Farmers (owned by Japanese brewing giant Kirin) – and that doesn’t include products such as flavoured milk, goat’s milk or soy milk.

CHOICE Radio: Milk whitewash

Please note: this information was current as of September 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


Milk terms

  • Full cream makes up nearly half of all fresh milk sales. To qualify it needs to contain at least 3.2% fat, as specified by the Food Standards Code. Most brands contain about 3.4% fat and 3.3% protein.
  • Light/low-fat is the second-biggest category (30% of fresh milk sales). To qualify for the description, milk should contain no more than 1.5% fat, with most brands containing 1.3% to 1.4%. Often this milk has skim milk powder added to it, which makes it taste creamier and also boosts the calcium content.
  • Skim Food can be labelled “fat-free” if it contains less than 0.15% fat, and most brands of skim contain about 0.1%. Again, most brands contain extra skim milk powder which makes the milk taste creamier and gives it extra protein and calcium.
  • Pasteurisation destroys harmful bacteria by heating to a high temperature for a short period of time (the Food Standards Code requires all milk and dairy products sold in Australia be pasteurised).
  • Homogenisation is a process that makes the milk fat globules much smaller than in raw milk and prevents cream from separating and floating to the top of the bottle or carton. Homogenised milk looks whiter and doesn’t taste as creamy as non-homogenised milk. Contrary to some claims, there’s no evidence that homogenisation increases the risk of children developing an allergy to milk.

CHOICE verdict

Despite the profusion of brands and the plethora of claims, the only really meaningful choice when buying milk is between full-cream, low-fat and skim, as the generic brands are little different from the more expensive national brands.

If you like the taste of old-fashioned, full-cream milk that hasn’t been homogenised, or you’d prefer milk from cows that have been treated more kindly than usual, you’re more likely to find it as organic milk that has been produced by a small local dairy.

 
 

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The following models scored the best results in our test.
What to buy
Brand Price
Full cream
Coles Smart Buy Milk $2.17 / 2L
Farmdale Fresh Full Cream Milk (ALDI) $2.17 / 2L
Home Brand Milk $2.17 / 2L
Low fat
Farmdale Fresh Light Milk* (ALDI) $2.57 / 2L
Skim
Farmdale Fresh Skim Milk (ALDI) $1.68 / 1L
Woolworths Fresh Skim Milk $1.68 / 1L

* All the supermarkets have generic brands at similar prices. Farmdale Fresh Light Milk is slightly cheaper and contains significantly higher levels of protein and calcium than the others.
Milk products

Generic v big brands

For all types of milk, the generic brands stand out as cheapest and, on average, contain much the same levels of protein, fat and calcium as the big brands. Coles Smart Buy Milk and ALDI Farmdale Fresh Full Cream Milk (two of the cheapest milks overall) and IGA Country Grove Milk contain above-average fat; Farmdale Fresh Light Milk and Skim Milk contain above-average calcium.

It’s not surprising the generics now command 43% of the market; ALDI and Woolworths told CHOICE they can sell their generic milk cheaper because there are no marketing costs or other add-ons.

A2 milk

Freedom Foods’ A2 Milk claims to be “rich in the A2 protein” and may “benefit families concerned with the immune function, certain allergies and digestive wellbeing”. The science behind this claim is that beta-casein, the protein that makes up about 80% of the protein in milk, has two forms, A1 and A2, and milk normally contains a mixture of the two forms (all true). And the peptide BCM7 can be released from A1 protein during digestion or food processing (also true).

However, Freedom Foods also claims that BCM7 is “a strong opioid”, and that this “has been shown to directly affect gut processes and mucous production”. It’s also suggested that A2 milk provides levels of protection from autism in children, as well as schizophrenia, diabetes and heart disease.

However, the European Food Safety Authority recently reviewed the science and found no justification for claims about the health risks from BCM7. Food Standards Australia New Zealand is similarly sceptical about the evidence for the claims for A2 milk.

Organic milk

Like other organic foods, organic milk costs more because production costs are greater. It’s produced without the use of pesticides and with higher standards of animal welfare than conventionally produced milk (see Animal Welfare issues, below).

Many brands are produced by smaller independent dairies with only local distribution, so the milk is less likely to have been transported across vast distances. All the organic milk we found was independently certified. On average, the full-cream organic milk we bought contains more fat than conventional milk, and some brands are not homogenised.

Just Organic (ALDI) and You’ll Love Coles Organic milk are relatively cheap, but they are ultrapasteurised to give them an extended use-by date. This means the milk is heated to higher temperatures than in normal pasteurisation. You may detect a slightly “cooked” taste.

Animal welfare issues

Milk production is now much more efficient and mechanised. The number of dairy farms has more than halved in the past 25 years and the average herd size has gone up from 85 cows in 1980 to 215 in 2008. In the same period, the average amount of milk produced per cow per year has gone up from 2848L to 5231L. This increased productivity has been achieved by selective breeding and supplementing the cows’ feed. But according to the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations, the huge scale of milk production has given rise to some animal welfare issues.

To produce milk, a cow must have a calf every year and most of these bobby calves are slaughtered. Current regulations allow for them to be transported on trucks for 18 hours straight, and there’s no requirement for them to be fed for 36 hours. Calves that are kept have their horns or the horn buds removed without anaesthetic or pain relief. Although on the decrease, some farmers still routinely dock the tails of their dairy cows, again without anaesthetic or pain relief. Lameness can be a painful condition for many dairy cows that stand for long periods on the concrete floors of milking sheds.

03.Full cream milk results

 

Key

Total Fat: <3g = Green light; 3.1g – 19.9g = Orange light; <20g = Red light
Saturated Fat: <1.5g = Green light; 1.6g – 4.9g = Orange light; <5g = Red light
Sugars: <5g = Green light; 5.1g – 14.9g = Orange light; <15g = Red light
Sodium: <120mg = Green light; 121mg – 599mg = Orange light; <600mg = Red light
ns: not stated
Where available: A = Adelaide; B = Brisbane, M = Melbourne, P = Perth, S = Sydney, All = All previously listed capital cities.

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

  NUTRIENTS PER 100ML  
Product Homogenised? Organic? Where available Energy (kJ) Protein (g) Total fat (g) Sat fat (g) Sugars (g) Sodium (mg) Calcium (mg) Price paid ($) Unit size bought (L)
FULL CREAM
Avon Valley Dairy My Milk
P
326
4
4.8
Orange light
3.2
Orange light
4.7
Green light
41
Green light
ns
4.69
1
B.-D. Farm Paris Creek In Conversion Biodynamic Milk
A, P
260
3.3
3.5
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.5
Green light
39
Green light
128
4.05
2
Bannister Downs Farm Fresh Milk
P
244
3.2
3.6
Orange light
2.4
Orange light
3.3
Green light
40
Green light
300
2.09
1
Brownes Fresh Full Cream Milk
P
267
3.2
3.6
Orange light
2.4
Orange light
4.7
Green light
49
Green light
120
2.03
1
Brownes Junior with Added Minerals and Vitamin D
P
259
3.3
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.6
Green light
45
Green light
120
2.25
1
Coles Smart Buy Milk
All
269
3.3
3.6
Orange light
2.3
Orange light
4.7
Green light
48
Green light
114
2.17
2
Dairy Choice Homogenised Pasteurised Milk
S
269
3.3
3.6
Orange light
2.3
Orange light
4.7
Green light
48
Green light
114
2.39
2
Dairy Farmers Kids Omega-3 DHA
All
265
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
44
Green light
118
4.77
2
Dairy Farmers Milk
All
265
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
44
Green light
118
3.76
2
Family Choice Milk
B, M
264
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
46
Green light
117
1.97
2
Farm House Milk
M
316
3.3
4.9
Orange light
3.2
Orange light
4.7
Green light
57
Green light
121
1.98
1
Farmdale Fresh Full Cream Milk (Aldi)
B, M, S
271
3.3
3.6
Orange light
2.3
Orange light
4.8
Green light
58
Green light
123
2.17
2
Fleurieu Farm Fresh Milk
A, P
277
3.3
3.8
Orange light
2.5
Orange light
4.7
Green light
41
Green light
116
4.33
2
Fleurieu Jersey Premium
A
312
3.3
4.8
Orange light
3.2
Orange light
4.6
Green light
58
Green light
116
5.28
2
Fleurieu Premium Full Cream Milk
A, P
277
3.3
3.8
Orange light
2.5
Orange light
4.7
Green light
41
Green light
116
5.45
1.5
Foodland Milk
All
265
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
44
Green light
ns
2.27
2
Freedom Foods A2 Full Cream Milk
All
271
3.1
3.6
Orange light
2.8
Orange light
5
Orange light
48
Green light
117
4.99
2
Golden North Country Fresh Milk
A
265
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
44
Green light
118
3.55
2
Harvey Fresh Milk
P
300
3.3
3.8
Orange light
2.6
Orange light
4.6
Green light
34
Green light
110
1.95
1
Home Brand Milk
All
265
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
44
Green light
114
2.17
2
IGA Country Grove Milk
All
273
3.4
3.6
Orange light
2.3
Orange light
4.8
Green light
49
Green light
116
3.79
3
Ivyhome Dairy Certified Organic Milk
B
277
3.2
3.8
Orange light
2.8
Orange light
4.8
Green light
61
Green light
107
2.75
1
Just Organic (Aldi)
B, M, S
281
3.1
4.1
Orange light
3
Orange light
4.5
Green light
34
Green light
127
1.98
1
Margaret River Organic Full Cream Milk
P
312
3.3
4.8
Orange light
3.2
Orange light
4.6
Green light
58
Green light
ns
3.49
1
Murray Valley Cheese Co. Whole Milk
A
295
3.3
3.7
Orange light
2.6
Orange light
5.7
Orange light
37
Green light
120
3.99
2
Parmalat Pure Organic Full Cream Milk
All
288
3.2
4.1
Orange light
2.7
Orange light
4.8
Green light
58
Green light
123
5.12
2
Pauls Milk
All
264
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
46
Green light
117
3.39
2
Pauls Pure Organic Unhomogenised Full Cream Milk
All
288
3.2
4.1
Orange light
2.7
Orange light
4.8
Green light
58
Green light
123
2.78
1
Pauls Zymil Easy to Digest Full Cream Milk
All
271
3.3
3.6
Orange light
2.4
Orange light
4.7
Green light
58
Green light
123
2.68
1
Pura Kids Omega-3 DHA
All
265
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
44
Green light
118
3.53
2
Pura Milk
All
265
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
44
Green light
118
3.65
2
Tweedvale Fresh Traditional Milk
ns
A
277
3.3
3.8
Orange light
2.5
Orange light
ns
ns
ns
4.29
2
Woolworths Fresh Milk
All
265
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
44
Green light
114
2.47
2
You'll Love Coles Milk
All
265
3.2
3.4
Orange light
2.2
Orange light
4.9
Green light
44
Green light
114
2.47
2
You'll Love Coles Organic Milk
All
255
3.2
3.3
Orange light
2.4
Orange light
4.6
Green light
41
Green light
100
2.18
1
 

04.Low fat milk results

 

Key

Total Fat: <3g = Green light; 3.1g – 19.9g = Orange light; <20g = Red light
Saturated Fat: <1.5g = Green light; 1.6g – 4.9g = Orange light; <5g = Red light
Sugars: <5g = Green light; 5.1g – 14.9g = Orange light; <15g = Red light
Sodium: <120mg = Green light; 121mg – 599mg = Orange light; <600mg = Red light
ns: not stated
Where available: A = Adelaide; B = Brisbane, M = Melbourne, P = Perth, S = Sydney, All = All previously listed capital cities.

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

  NUTRIENTS PER 100ML 
ProductHomogenised?Organic?Where availableEnergy (kJ)Protein (g)Total fat (g) Sat fat (g) Sugars (g) Sodium (mg) Calcium (mg) Price paid ($)Unit size bought (L)
LOW FAT
Anlene Low Fat
All
220
3.6
1.4
Green light
0.9
Green light
6.3
Orange light
54
Green light
200
2.49
1
Bannister Downs All Lite Milk
P
166
3.6
0.85
Green light
0.56
Green light
5.1
Orange light
40
Green light
320
2.09
1
Brownes Heart Plus
P
224
4.1
1.4
Green light
0.8
Green light
6.1
Orange light
62
Green light
146
2.57
1
Brownes Hi-Lo
P
195
3.3
1.5
Green light
1
Green light
4.9
Green light
51
Green light
125
3.62
2
Coles Smart Buy Lite Milk
All
172
3.2
1
Green light
0.7
Green light
4.5
Green light
50
Green light
112
3.66
3
Dairy Farmers Lite White
All
212
3.9
1.4
Green light
0.9
Green light
5.5
Orange light
57
Green light
134
4.27
2
Dairy Farmers Take Care
All
210
4.2
1
Green light
0.7
Green light
5.9
Orange light
60
Green light
143
4.12
2
Family Choice Lite Milk
B, M
195
3.3
1.5
Green light
1
Green light
4.9
Green light
58
Green light
124
2.99
2
Farmdale Fresh Light Milk
B, M, S
221
4.2
1.3
Green light
0.9
Green light
6.1
Orange light
43
Green light
141
2.57
2
Farmers Best Original
All
229
4.3
1.4
Green light
0.4
Green light
6
Orange light
62
Green light
145
2.63
1
Farmers Best Source of Omega 3
All
254
4.5
1.4
Green light
0.4
Green light
6.3
Orange light
68
Green light
153
4.81
2
Foodland Reduced Fat Milk
A
209
3.4
1.5
Green light
1
Green light
5.6
Orange light
50
Green light
ns
2.63
2
Freedom Foods A2 Light Milk
All
189
3.1
1.3
Green light
0.9
Green light
5.2
Orange light
48
Green light
117
4.99
2
Golden North Reduced fat Milk
A
209
3.4
1.5
Green light
1
Green light
5.6
Orange light
50
Green light
127
2.53
1
Harvey Fresh Vital Plus Original
P
210
4.2
0.6
Green light
0.4
Green light
6.7
Orange light
44
Green light
140
1.99
1
IGA Country Grove Lite Milk
All
176
3.2
1.2
Green light
0.8
Green light
4.5
Green light
46
Green light
109
2.89
2
Ivyhome Dairy Certified Organic Lo Fat Milk
B
171
3.2
ns
ns
ns
ns
4.9
Green light
61
Green light
107
2.75
1
Parmalat Pure Organic Low Fat Milk
All
182
3.4
1
Green light
0.7
Green light
5.1
Orange light
58
Green light
126
5.12
2
Pauls Pure Organic Unhomogenised Low Fat Milk
All
182
3.4
1
Green light
0.7
Green light
5.1
Orange light
58
Green light
126
2.77
1
Pauls Smarter White Milk
All
237
4
2
Green light
1.3
Green light
5.6
Orange light
67
Green light
145
3.89
2
Pauls Trim Health Plus + FIBRE
All
199
3.4
1.3
Green light
0.9
Green light
4.9
Green light
58
Green light
124
2.99
2
Pauls Trim Low Fat Milk
All
191
3.4
1.3
Green light
0.8
Green light
4.9
Green light
58
Green light
126
2.99
2
Pauls Zymil Easy to Digest Low Fat Milk
All
189
3.4
1.3
Green light
0.8
Green light
4.9
Green light
60
Green light
125
2.68
1
Physical Low Fat
All
228
5.1
1.4
Green light
0.9
Green light
5.3
Orange light
57
Green light
175
3.99
2
Pura Boost
All
215
4
1.4
Green light
0.9
Green light
5.6
Orange light
52
Green light
200
2.67
1.1
Pura Heart Active
All
174
3.3
1
Green light
0.5
Green light
4.8
Green light
45
Green light
123
2.88
1
Pura Light Start
All
183
3.6
1
Green light
0.6
Green light
5
Orange light
45
Green light
125
4.63
2
Pura Skimmer
All
207
3.3
1.5
Green light
1
Green light
5.6
Orange light
46
Green light
121
4.19
2
Rev Health Plus + FIBRE
M
199
3.4
1.3
Green light
0.9
Green light
4.9
Green light
58
Green light
124
4.55
2
Rev Low Fat Milk
A
191
3.4
1.3
Green light
0.8
Green light
4.9
Green light
58
Green light
126
3.99
2
Tweedvale Reduced fat Milk
ns
A
265
3.4
1.5
Green light
1
Green light
ns
ns
ns
ns
ns
4.49
2
Woolworths Fresh Lite Low Fat Milk
All
193
3.3
1.4
Green light
0.9
Green light
5
Orange light
43
Green light
124
2.57
2
You'll Love Coles Lite Milk
All
194
3.3
1.4
Green light
0.9
Green light
5
Orange light
43
Green light
114
2.99
2
You'll Love Coles Lite Milk
All
176
3.2
1.2
Green light
0.8
Green light
4.5
Green light
46
Green light
109
3.96
3
You'll Love Coles Organic Lite Milk
All
173
3.2
1
Green light
0.8
Green light
4.8
Green light
41
Green light
100
2.38
1
 

05.Skim milk results

 

Key

Total Fat: <3g = Green light; 3.1g – 19.9g = Orange light; <20g = Red light
Saturated Fat: <1.5g = Green light; 1.6g – 4.9g = Orange light; <5g = Red light
Sugars: <5g = Green light; 5.1g – 14.9g = Orange light; <15g = Red light
Sodium: <120mg = Green light; 121mg – 599mg = Orange light; <600mg = Red light
ns: not stated
Where available: A = Adelaide; B = Brisbane, M = Melbourne, P = Perth, S = Sydney, All = All previously listed capital cities.

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

 NUTRIENTS PER 100ML 
ProductHomogenised?Organic?Where availableEnergy (kJ)Protein (g)Total fat (g)Sat fat (g)Sugars (g)Sodium (mg)Calcium (mg)Price paid ($)1Unit size bought (L)
SKIM
Anlene No Fat
All
221
4.8
0.13
Green light
0.08
Green light
7.9
Orange light
61
Green light
200
2.59
1
B.D. Farm Paris Creek Organic Biodynamic Skim Milk
A, P
185
3.6
0.2
Green light
0.2
Green light
7
Orange light
45
Green light
120
4.05
2
Brownes Calcium Plus
P
224
4.6
0.8
Green light
0.5
Green light
7
Orange light
66
Green light
160
2.04
1
Brownes Skim
P
177
4.1
0.1
Green light
<0.1
Green light
6
Orange light
63
Green light
155
2.04
1
Dairy Farmers Shape
All
202
4.8
0.1
Green light
0.1
Green light
6.7
Orange light
69
Green light
163
4.69
2
Dairy Farmers Skim
All
148
3.5
0.1
Green light
0.1
Green light
4.9
Green light
51
Green light
120
4.74
2
Farmdale Fresh Skim Milk (Aldi)
B, M, S
177
4.2
0.1
Green light
0.09
Green light
5.9
Orange light
43
Green light
141
1.68
1
Fleurieu Farm Fresh Low Fat
ns
A
196
4.6
0.2
Green light
0.1
Green light
6.5
Orange light
58
Green light
116
4.52
2
Fleurieu Jersey Premium Low Fat
ns
A
196
4.6
0.2
Green light
0.1
Green light
6.5
Orange light
56
Green light
116
5.39
2
Freedom Foods A2 Milk Fat
All
143
3
0.1
Green light
0.06
Green light
5.2
Orange light
68
Green light
149
4.99
2
Murray Valley Cheese Co. Light Milk
A
135
3.9
<0.2
Green light
<0.2
Green light
4.8
Green light
42
Green light
120
3.99
2
Pauls Slim Milk No Fat
All
162
3.8
0.1
Green light
<0.7
Green light
5.4
Orange light
63
Green light
138
3.99
2
Physical No Fat
All
176
4.1
0.1
Green light
0.1
Green light
5.8
Orange light
75
Green light
175
3.99
2
Pura Tone
All
163
4
0.1
Green light
0.06
Green light
5.4
Orange light
50
Green light
140
4.61
2
Skinny Milk No Fat
All
162
3.8
0.1
Green light
<0.7
Green light
5.4
Orange light
63
Green light
138
2.39
1
Woolworths Fresh Skim Milk
All
151
3.3
0.15
Green light
0.1
Green light
5.2
Orange light
43
Green light
115
1.68
1
You'll Love Coles Skim Milk
All
151
3.3
0.1
Green light
0.1
Green light
5.2
Orange light
43
Green light
115
1.68
1
 

06.Non-dairy additives

 

Milk and CakeMore than a third of branded “milk” products contain non-dairy additives, such as minerals, vitamins, or vegetable or fish oil.

Under the Food Standards Code the manufacturers are not allowed to call these products “milk” on the label, yet they look like milk, are packaged like milk and are kept in the milk fridge in the supermarket.

These products cost more and often come with beguiling claims that owe more to marketing spin than fact.

They include the following:

Low in saturated fat

Farmers Best Original (Dairy Farmers) contains much the same amount of fat as low-fat milk (1.4%) but less saturated fat and cholesterol because the dairy fat has been replaced with canola oil. Although the level of saturated fat is half the amount in regular low-fat milk, on average it’s only about 0.8% anyway. In a 250mL serve, you’ll save only 5% of an adult’s maximum recommended intake of saturated fat – hardly worth paying $2.63 per litre, which is twice the price of regular low-fat milk.

Hearts and minds

Brownes Heart Plus claims to be “an easy and convenient way to boost your daily intake of omega-3s”; Dairy Farmers Kids and Pura Kids claim to be “natural brain food” and the claimed benefit of Farmers Best Source of Omega-3 is in the name. There’s now strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of heart disease, and growing evidence that these fats are good for the brain development of infants, even before they’re born.

Unfortunately, these products might not do much to boost your family’s omega-3 intake. One 250mL serve of Dairy Farmers Kids or Pura Kids contains only 30mg of omega-3, while Farmers Best Source of Omega-3 squeezes in 33mg – a lot less than the 230mg of omega-3 you’d get from a small (50g) serving of Atlantic salmon. Brownes Heart Plus contains a more useful amount (200mg per serve), although still short of the National Heart Foundation’s recommended daily intake of 400mg of omega-3 for women and 600mg for men.

Calcium and bones

“Good source of calcium” or “high in calcium” are common claims. Some brands, such as Anlene, Brownes and Physical, also add vitamin D, which promotes calcium absorption. Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones but in reality all milk is a good source; one serve (250mL) provides more than 25% of the recommended daily intake. And if you get some exposure to sunlight you’re most unlikely to lack vitamin D. However, elderly people who have higher calcium requirements might benefit from these supplements, and also those more at risk of vitamin D deficiency, such as dark-skinned or veiled women and their children.

Plant sterols

Pura HeartActive claims to lower cholesterol by up to 15% because it contains plant sterols. These really can lower your cholesterol, but what Pura doesn’t make obvious is that in one serving you get only a third of the amount that’s needed. You’ll still need to eat other foods to which plant sterols have been added, such as some margarines and yoghurts, to derive any real health benefit.

Dietary fibre

Both Pauls Trim healthplus+ FIBRE and Rev healthplus+ FIBRE boast of being “the easiest way to get the added goodness of dietary fibre you can’t see or taste”. These contain inulin, a substance extracted from chicory roots or made synthetically from ordinary sugar (sucrose). It counts as dietary fibre under the Food Standards Code but there’s little evidence it provides the same health benefits. You can save money by using cheaper regular milk and enjoying foods naturally rich in fibre that have proven health benefits, such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals.

07.Diluting our milk

 

The Food Standards Code allows manufacturers to dilute their milk with “milk components”, as long as the total fat level remains at least 3.2% (for full-cream milk) and the protein at least 3% (for any milk).

Manufacturers dilute milk with permeate, a solution of minerals and lactose (milk sugar) that’s a by-product from making cheese. They also strip milk of some of its cream, yet still sell it as full-cream. Most full-cream milk we found contained only 3.3%-3.4% fat, whereas milk straight from the cow contains about 4%. Manufacturers use the cream they’ve extracted to make other dairy products such as dairy desserts and butter.

Several manufacturers told CHOICE that standardisation ensures all milk has a consistent composition. While this seems unlikely to be the full story, particularly as permeate is a lot cheaper than milk, full-cream milk is much the same price here as in the UK where it’s required to have a higher fat content. The lower fat content of Australian milk has health benefits as it contains slightly less saturated fat and delivers fewer kilojoules – although it may not taste quite like the milk you remember from childhood.

You can still find milk with fat above 4%, but it’s more expensive and is often organic. You can also find milk that hasn’t been homogenised, but these brands are produced by smaller dairy companies with limited distribution and may not be available in your area. Adelaide and Perth residents can even still buy milk in glass bottles – Fleurieu Premium Full Cream Milk (Adelaide) and Avon Valley Dairy My Milk (Perth).

Milk process