Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Puss in milk ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Puss in milk
Category: Health > Fitness and Nutrition
Asked by: leah4-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 19 Mar 2005 06:16 PST
Expires: 18 Apr 2005 07:16 PDT
Question ID: 497170
After pasteurization does milk have pus in it?  How much puss can milk
have in it and still be sold legally? I.e. what is the maximum
percentage of puss in milk?
Subject: Re: Puss in milk
Answered By: hummer-ga on 19 Mar 2005 10:55 PST
Hi  leah4,

Well, we first need to define the word "pus" before we can determine
how much is allowed in milk because that particular term is not used
in the official "Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance" published by the

>>> Pus / Somatic Cells

University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension:
"In a handout, PETA says, "The dairy industry knows that there is a
problem with pus in milk. It uses the 'somatic cell count' to measure
pus in milk...."
"There is no pus in milk. All milk - including human breast milk -
naturally contains somatic (white) cells, which are critical in
fighting infection and ensuring good health."

"The majority of the cells in a somatic cell count are leukocytes
(white blood cells), and some are cells from the udder secretory
tissue (epithelial cells). The epithelial cells are part of the normal
body function and are shed and renewed in normal body processes. The
white blood cells serve as a defense mechanism to fight disease
(infection), and assist in repairing damaged tissue."

Somatic Cells
Cells from the body that compose the tissues, organs, and parts of
that individual other than the germ (sex) cells. 

The Somatic Cell Count and Milk Quality
"The somatic cell count (SCC) is commonly used as a measure of milk
quality. Somatic cells are simply animal body cells present at low
levels in normal milk. High levels of these cells in milk indicate
abnormal, reduced-quality milk that is caused by an intramammary
bacterial infection (mastitis).
The majority of the cells in a somatic cell count are leukocytes
(white blood cells), and some are cells from the udder secretory
tissue (epithelial cells). The epithelial cells are part of the normal
body function and are shed and renewed in normal body processes. The
white blood cells serve as a defense mechanism to fight disease
(infection), and assist in repairing damaged tissue.
Milk markets routinely rely on somatic cell counts to help ensure a
quality product. SCC levels are monitored to assure compliance with
state and federal milk quality standards. Today, most markets pay a
premium for low SCC, good-quality milk."

>>> Milk Ordinance

Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (2003 Revision)
Somatic Cell Count......Individual producer milk not to exceed 750,000 per mL.

Temperature..........Cooled to 7C (45F) or less and maintained thereat.
Bacterial Limits.....20,000 per mL, or gm.
Coliform.............Not to exceed 10 per mL. Provided, that in the
case of bulk milk transport tank shipments, shall not        exceed
100 per mL.
Phosphatase..........Less than 350 milliunits/L for fluid products and
other milk products by the Fluorometer or Charm ALP or equivalent.
Drugs................No positive results on drug residue detection
methods as referenced in Section 6 - Laboratory Techniques which have
been found to be acceptable for use with pasteurized and heat-treated
milk and milk products

>>> Summary

A Somatic Cell Count (mostly white blood cells) is not tested in
pasteurized milk because it is tested "at the farm gate".  Milk will
never be 100% free of somatic cells because they are a normal part of
lactation.  However, taking a Somatic Cell Count is important because
a high count will effect the quality of the product (off flavor,
color, and smell plus a reduced shelf life). A dairy farmer's raw milk
collection cannot exceed a somatic cell count of 750,000 per mL at the
farm gate. Cell count is determined by the health of the animals and
the milk from one cow with mastitis (udder infection) will have a very
high cell count, however, that cell count will be diluted when added
to the rest of the herd's milk.  The farm's milk is added to a
truckload of milk from other farms which will dilute the cell count
per mL further, and then that truckload is added to all the other
truckloads at the dairy processing plant, diluting the cell count even
further. Therefore, by the time the milk is bottled up, the milk will
contain a somatic cell count of no more than 750,000 per mL and likely
alot less. Pasteurization is used to lower bacterial levels and not to
reduce the somatic cell count.

Additional Link of Interest:

The Effect of Poor Quality Raw Milk on Finished Products

I hope I've been able to help you understand just a small part of the
complex dairy industry. If you have any questions, please post a
clarification request *before* closing/rating my answer and I'll be
happy to reply.

Thank you,

Google Search Terms Used:

"somatic cell count" milk
Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance" 2003
pmo somatic cell pus
usda milk quality regulations
"pus in milk"
pasteurized milk
Subject: Re: Puss in milk
From: hersolutions4u-ga on 31 May 2005 21:33 PDT
Hello, :)

This is my take on the whole "got pus" in milk thing.. (So Far - I'm
still researching)

pus (p?s) n.
Short: A generally viscous, yellowish-white fluid formed in infected
tissue, consisting of white blood cells, cellular debris, and necrotic

Long: Thick white or yellowish fluid that forms in areas of infection
such as wounds and abscesses. It is constituted of decomposed body
tissue, bacteria (or other micro-organisms that cause the infection),
and certain white blood cells. These white cells form one of the
defense mechanisms of the body. Known as phagocytes, they rush to the
area of infection and engulf the invading bacteria in a process called
phagocytosis. Many white cells themselves succumb in the process and
become one of the constituents of pus.

rBGH (is an acronym for: Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone)
In many farms, cows are given growth hormones (known as "BST" or
"rBGH") to increase milk production. It is also common to include
antibiotics in the animals' feed, to reduce the transmission of
infection arising from the close quarters in which dairy cattle are
typically housed. Both of these practices are controversial and
prohibited under organic farming codes of conduct.

Anitbiotics Nonmedical Use

Antibiotics have found wide nonmedical use. Some are used in animal
husbandry, along with vitamin B12, to enhance the weight gain of
livestock. However, some authorities believe the addition of
antibiotics to animal feeds is dangerous because continuous low
exposure to the antibiotic can sensitize humans to the drug and make
them unable to take the substance later for the treatment of
infection. In addition low levels of antibiotics in animal feed
encourage the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of
microorganisms. Drug resistance has been shown to be carried by a
genetic particle transmissible from one strain of microorganism to
another, and the presence of low levels of antibiotics can actually
cause an increase in the number of such particles in the bacterial
population and increase the probability that such particles will be
transferred to pathogenic, or disease-causing, strains. Antibiotics
have also been used to treat plant diseases such as bacteria-caused
infections in tomatoes, potatoes, and fruit trees. The substances are
also used in experimental research.

pasteurization (pas-chuhr-i-zay-shuhn, pas-tuhr-i-zay-shuhn)
Heating a fluid, such as milk, for a specific period to kill harmful bacteria. 
Milk is pasteurized by heating it to about 145F (63C) for 30 min or
by the ?flash? method of heating to 160F (71C) for 15 sec, followed
by rapid cooling to below 50F (10C), at which temperature it is
stored. The harmless lactic acid bacteria survive the process, but if
the milk is not kept cold, they multiply rapidly and cause it to turn

(According to this above definition: No, pasteurization does not
remove white blood cells, cellular debris, and necrotic/dead tissue
aka pus.)

What I have read so far about pus in milk: The fda approved drug now
being used on cows to increase milk production in cows, the increased
production increases milking, increased milking causes infection to
the udders. Pus in milk comes from the infected udders of cows.

=== once sample of many articles that refers to what I have read.

Evidence indicates that milk from rBGH-treated cows is very likely to feature:

- more pus from infected cows' udders;
- more antibiotics given to cows to treat those infections;
- an "off" taste and shortened shelf life, because of the pus;
- perhaps higher fat content and lower protein content;
- more of a tumor-promoting chemical called IGF-I, which has been
implicated in cancers of the colon, smooth muscle, and breast.

The full article can be read here:

With all that was written here so far and what I have read elsewhere,
I think I'll be looking for a milk substitute. What I don't know may
hurt me, but what I do know just grosses me out. :p

Thanks for letting me post..

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy