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Any health concerns from importing from Japan?

#1
First of all a disclaimer, I'm not trying to put Japan down in any way, what happened in Japan is very sad and I wish the best for it to recover completely the sooner the better. That said, I wanted to ask something I'm worried about, I've ordered 2 books from the site cd Japan that should be arriving at my home in two weeks, when I was ordering it I completely forgot about the 2011 earthquake and the following radiation issues, as such I wasn't even considering the possibility of radiation within an order from Japan, since I know almost nothing about how radiation gets into things I was hoping someone here could enlighten me on the matter. Should I be worried about those two books I ordered from Japan?  Are there any risk of radiation levels in them?


EDIT: What made me worried was this:
http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/informa...01_en.html
Edited: 2016-11-25, 2:33 pm
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#2
Everything in the world is irradiated. Radiation is a natural phenomenon. But no, the books don't have any extra radiation in them because of the leak at the power plant, and even if they did, low level radiation isn't a health risk. You could be sitting next to the closed down power plant in Fukushima, read them both cover to cover, and there still wouldn't be any health risks from the radiation you're exposed to.

But you shouldn't take my word for it, you should read up on the science. From reputable sources, not conspiracy blogs. The only way to combat the despicable propagandists who spread lies about this stuff is by using our brains.
Edited: 2016-11-25, 4:39 pm
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#3
Yes, and California will soon be covered by a huge cloud of radiation coming from Japan, Godzilla will awaken, and the whole world will be destroyed!

/s

That's if you listen to the online hype surrounding the incident; in reality, it's safe and the 'cloud of radiation' was someone renaming an image of some weather pattern.

I'll repeat Stansfield's advice: don't believe the hype and propaganda, and go for real sources and information. This site is not a good source for information on nuclear disasters either, by the way.
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#4
Thanks for the two cents guys, I've been reading from sources elsewhere, and it seems that the only kind of products that were a concern for the FDA were some kinds of food. Metal also seems to be an issue, which could turn up to be relevant for me since one of the books come with cds, which are coated with a thin layer of metal. Then again I'm assuming that that should not be a problem since Japan exports eletronics all over the world, if that were an issue that would have already been brought up by governments I guess.
But yeah, thanks for the 2 cents.
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#5
(2016-11-25, 6:00 pm)Iuri_ Wrote: Thanks for the two cents guys, I've been reading from sources elsewhere, and it seems that the only kind of products that were a concern for the FDA were some kinds of food. Metal also seems to be an issue, which could turn up to be relevant for me since one of the books come with cds, which are coated with a thin layer of metal. Then again I'm assuming that that should not be a problem since Japan exports eletronics all over the world, if that were an issue that would have already been brought up by governments I guess.
But yeah, thanks for the 2 cents.

Just for the record, I didn't tell you to take the government's word that something is safe or unsafe, I told you to use your own brain. I wouldn't consider the FDA a particularly useful source for someone looking to learn about what radiation is, and how it affects human health.

Your best bet for easy to digest facts on radiation is probably wikipedia. It has a lot of unfounded speculation on it too, but, at least, unlike most sources, wikipedia requires contributors to specify whether what they contribute is fact or opinion, and you can only claim something to be a fact if it is backed by published science.
Edited: 2016-11-25, 6:26 pm
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#6
(2016-11-25, 6:14 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: Just for the record, I didn't tell you to take the government's word that something is safe or unsafe, I told you to use your own brain. I wouldn't consider the FDA a particularly useful source for someone looking to learn about what radiation is, and how it affects human health.

Your best bet for easy to digest facts on radiation is probably wikipedia. It has a lot of unfounded speculation on it too, but, at least, unlike most sources, wikipedia requires contributors to specify whether what they contribute is fact or opinion, and you can only claim something to be a fact if it is backed by published science.

Thanks, I have been reading from different sources, one problematic thing I found so far is about metals, it seems they absorb radioactivity and become a radioactive source themselves indefinitely, but not all metal from Japan would be contaminated I'm guessing, I would have to have the bad luck of receiving a cd which used a compromised metal. Some people are saying there shouldn't be a problem buying things from Japan, others say otherwise, but those are not scientific opinions of course.
One thing I'm thinking is that if there was a problem with such simple things such as cd's, in all those five years since the disaster there would have been mass issues within Japan I'd think. But people seem to be living their lives normally, well, at least you don't hear of mass cancers happening in japanese society, appart from those who happened to be very near the disaster.
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#7
(2016-11-25, 7:06 pm)Iuri_ Wrote: ...one problematic thing I found so far is about metals, it seems they absorb radioactivity and become a radioactive source themselves indefinitely...

This seems unlikely. Elements are radioactive because their nucleus is unstable and decays over time. The only way for something to become radioactive is to contain a radioactive element. Metals are less likely to absorb radioactive elements than other materials because metals aren't typically very absorbant.
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#8
Remember that the Fukushima disaster is, as far as radiation is concerned, pretty much limited to Fukushima. Checking out the 福島市 wiki page 経済 section, https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%A6%8F%...C.E6.B8.88 ... it really doesn't look like you'd even have to start to worry. Banking, radio, tv, newspapers, all that stuff is irrelevant. Heavy electronic equipment you're not likely to import from Japan, spun threads don't really contain much that can hold radiation, and railway cars are probably of out of the question for a personal purchase. Of course I didn't check all the details of every company, and not every company is listed as an important industry, but still, it doesn't seem like a major manufacturing center of consumer goods for export.

You could research the other direction too and see where your CDs (or any other Japanese imports) come from, but personally, even if a CD I bought -was- manufactured in Fukushima, in the disaster area... I just wouldn't care. The residual radiation is going to make an negligible difference in the radioactivity of the tiny amount of metal in a CD (the metal is, after all, only a few atoms thick).

And then what am I going to with the CD? If it's software, I'm going to install it and then put it in a box somewhere. If it's music I'm going to rip it to mp3 and then put it in a box somewhere. In no case am I going to be sitting next to it or carrying it on my person for extended periods. (And the inverse square law means there's a huge difference between something stowed in the closet and something in your pocket).

The only thing I'd be remotely concerned about is consuming seafood from the coast near Fukushima (the inverse square law also means that something in your belly effects you a heckuva lot more than something in your closet!)
Of course, no such seafood would even be on the market if it hadn't passed government standards but I still might do some research if I was actually in a position where I might eat it.

Also keep in mind that lots of things are 'radioactive' by some measure. Your kitchen knives, your cel phone, your car battery all have some 'radioactive' elements. Tap water isn't by nature radioactive, but it's extremely unlikely that there aren't some trace amounts of radioactive elements in there. This isn't something to panic about, this is just 'background radiation'. A lot of elements are very slightly radioactive, or have a small percentage of radioactive isotopes mixed into any naturally occurring samples. It's a vast sliding scale -- there's very few things that aren't at least a little bit radioactive. Having something be a little bit more radioactive doesn't really make a difference; it's only when you have something that's highly radioactive and are continuously exposed to it that it becomes a problem.
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#9
If your CD was irradiated (in the unlikely event that your single CD was produced in Fukushima and/or kept in close proximity to the reactor site), it shouldn't pose any danger and you should be able to tell:
https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub121/sec5.html Wrote:5.1.5 Magnetism, X-rays, Microwaves, and Radiation

The effects on optical discs of magnetism, X-rays, microwaves, and radiation can be summarized as follows:

   Magnetism should have no affect on CDs or DVDs.
   X-ray exposure (e.g., from airport detectors) will not harm optical discs.
   Microwaves in a microwave oven will destroy a disc. (It may also destroy your microwave oven because of the metal in the disc.)
   Information on the effects of radiation is currently available from testing done in connection with the U.S. Postal Service's irradiation of mail to counter bioterrorism threats. CDs and DVDs have been tested at exposure levels of 60 to 300 kilogreys of radiation. According to the results, disc data were unaffected by the radiation; the packaging and discs themselves, however, showed some discoloration and had a burnt-substance odor. There were no traces of residual radiation on any of the packages or discs (High-Tech Productions, no date). A quantitative summary of these effects is also available from Jerome L. Hartke, of Media Sciences, Inc.
Emphasis added.

As for metals being easily contaminated by nuclear radiation (alpha particles, I assume), the only thing I know that supports that is the fact that the Soviet government removed all the cars in the area affected by the Chernobyl disaster and put them in a giant parking lot in the middle of a forest in order to prevent contamination from spreading. Supposedly, parts of these cars are scrapped illegally by thieves and still give off radiation, but any given piece of a car is covered in grease and oil of various makeups, dirt, paint, dead bugs, etc. so I don't know what's actually contaminated and don't care to do the research necessary to make a guess.
(I only learned this parking lot of death from a bit on television, so I don't know anything else about it.)

EDIT: And I just thought I'd add this after the mentions of 'there's radiation all around you': bananas are radioactive; in fact, many plants are, as is the dirt they grow in. If you eat 35,000,000 bananas at once, you'll have received a lethal dose of radiation (I think you'll have bigger problems though).
Look up BED (Banana Equivalent Dose) for some fun reading. Apparently the average daily radiation exposure is about 100BED.
Edited: 2016-11-25, 9:14 pm
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#10
It's true, I bought a book from Japan and ended up growing another arm

People look at me funny but it's pretty convenient I have to say
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#11
Thank you guys so much for your input, I'm really much more relieved now after all of these data and your thoughts!
I should be able to enjoy my books in peace now. Smile
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#12
You must check bionerd23's youtube channel too.
Search for "Fukushima", there is a video were she analyses some packed seafood from Fukushima and she ends up with the conclusion that there was nothing significant in terms of radiations.
She even eats an apple from a tree near the Chernobyl nuclear power station, then she does an analysis of the apple and nothing relevant was shown. Another time she eats a fish from a lake near the nuclear station, she went near the more radioactive locations in Chernobyl, she has even a collection of minerals which contain uranium in her bedroom. She has done this for years and she's still alive and in good health.
In a video she shows a place in Brazil where the background radiations are like ten times higher than the average, and it seems that people who live there have even a lower occurrences of cancer and the like.
Even people who travel a lot with plane get a lot of radiations from the sun, and I don't see a great death toll among planet pilots.
We often are exposed to source of radiations without even thinking about it, for example I've read that some granite rocks contain amounts of uranium or other radioactive elements, and we often have granite stairs or or granite tiles in our houses.
So I don't think a CD will pose a threat.

PS: I'm not expert, so take this as a grain of salt and do your own researches!
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#13
(2016-11-26, 7:50 am)Iuri_ Wrote: Thank you guys so much for your input, I'm really much more relieved now after all of these data and your thoughts!
I should be able to enjoy my books in peace now. Smile


I hate it when people have too much peace of mind ( Smile ), so let's fix that: THERE ARE some very, very bad things in your food. Chief among them is sugar (especially added sugar...bad for adults, even worse for kids), but also processed meats, vegetable oil, mercury in some seafood, etc. etc. So your Japanese books won't kill you, but the coke or ham sandwich you have while reading them might. And there's nothing the FDA can do to help you. Only you can keep up with the latest scientific research on this stuff, and choose what you eat.
Edited: 2016-11-26, 12:19 pm
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#14
Some food produced in Fukushima had enough radioactive content that the Japanese government banned it from sale. They were testing harvests on a location-by-locations basis, and might still be doing so. I visit a friend in Aizuwakamatsu most years, so I get the local report. I haven't had the heart to ask for a while.

There is no way for a CD or a book to become radioactive in any practical sense from exposure to Fukushima fallout. Maybe if it was stored in the reactor chamber, it'd be an issue.
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#15
I don't know guys the OP may become the next teenage mutant ninja turtle. I think he should consult splinter just to make sure
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#16
For reference, the background radiation in Hiroshima right where the bomb fell is about 0.3 microsieverts/hour, that's basically as low as where you live. Sure the timeframe is not the same but assuming your book was produced in 2012 or later, even in the Fukushima prefecture there is absolutely no reason to be afraid. 

Be wary of people smoking in the street or things like that, that's much more radioactive.
Edited: 2016-11-26, 6:10 pm
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#17
(2016-11-26, 12:17 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: I hate it when people have too much peace of mind ( Smile ), so let's fix that: THERE ARE some very, very bad things in your food. Chief among them is sugar (especially added sugar...bad for adults, even worse for kids), but also processed meats, vegetable oil, mercury in some seafood, etc. etc. So your Japanese books won't kill you, but the coke or ham sandwich you have while reading them might. And there's nothing the FDA can do to help you. Only you can keep up with the latest scientific research on this stuff, and choose what you eat.

haha, thankfully I was raised in a family where we eat healthy food, although I'm guilty of occasionaly be found near the entrance of fast food establishments. Rolleyes

Seriously though, thanks a lot for the help guys.
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#18
Even healthy food will be more dangerous than your books though if we reason purely on radiation, but both are significantly lower than the background radiation from things like soil, air, etc anyway. Even if you stayed with them 24/7 you'd still have a much lower exposure than people like astronauts, power plant workers, and even for them it's still safe.
Things like taking ONE X-ray or CT scan would irradiate you more than owning the books right next to your skin for hundreds of years.
Edited: 2016-11-26, 8:25 pm
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#19
(2016-11-26, 12:17 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: I hate it when people have too much peace of mind ( Smile ), so let's fix that: THERE ARE some very, very bad things in your food. Chief among them is sugar (especially added sugar...bad for adults, even worse for kids), but also processed meats, vegetable oil, mercury in some seafood, etc. etc. So your Japanese books won't kill you, but the coke or ham sandwich you have while reading them might. And there's nothing the FDA can do to help you. Only you can keep up with the latest scientific research on this stuff, and choose what you eat.

I wouldn't put too much faith in the latest scientific research either, to be honest. Lets consider how it was considered that fat was universally bad, and then maybe just unsaturated fats are bad or maybe transfats, and oh wait, actually fats are essential nutrients and actually all those low-fat diets are ruining your health and those starches you're eating instead are worse for you and giving you diabetes while the lack of fats is ruining your mental and physical health...

The only thing that seems certain in the ever-changing nutritional landscape is that eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies is good for you, everything else is questionable, but you probably can't live on berries and celery alone so you better take a chance.

Nutrition is a very complex subject and we're nowhere near knowing what 'ideal' nutrition actually looks like, and ideas propogated by the 'latest science' can be extremely harmful (e.g., margarine instead of butter, e.g., 'low-fat' foods).
We know what yesterday's misunderstandings are, but what are we being told today that is actually flat out wrong...?

This is a very difficult area that is really poorly understood. I would avoid eating too many big predator fish (swordfish, salmon, tuna), try to eat more small fish (anchovies, sardines, kippers, tilapia) -- the dangers of concentrated heavy metals and the benefits of fish-oils seem pretty likely to be actual facts; obviously eat lots of fruits and veggies. Beyond that it gets pretty questionable... are vegetable oils bad? Trans-fats are, but those naturally occur in animal fats and unnaturally occur in processed vegetable fats. How bad are natural vegetable fats or natural animal fats? Is there a big difference between one vegetable fat and another, or one animal fat and another? Nobody really knows, truth be told, but we do know that you have to eat  'enough' fats to be healthy, just not 'too much' fats, but we can't actually define 'enough' or 'too much'.

Conversely, the dangers of radiation are actually very well documented and researched, at least at the high end. It's just not well understood by most people, and nobody seems to be doing a good job of making the science comprehensible. At the low end, there is evidence that insufficient background radiation is actually unhealthy but the science there is not in a good state. Nobody wants to do the research (or very few people anyway) to prove that radiation can be good for you. There's still a huge stigma to that kind of thing even though almost nobody remembers radioactive toothpaste that made people's teeth fall out from radiation poisoning and a whole other host of radioactive consumer products. Even though the details aren't recalled the stigma against calling radiation 'good' under any circumstances persists and even effects things like using gamma rays to sterilize, which is a completely different phenomenon from particle radiation. (There's a whole lot of reasons to think we'd be better off eating gamma ray sterilized foods rather than heat sterilized foods, but irrational fear of 'radiation' and confusion between ray and particle radiation means it's not even on the table as a possiblity.)

So... in short... uh.... in short, I lost my point. I think it had something to do with science being incomplete and the masses being stupid, but I'm not sure. Maybe it had to do with me being stupid and this post being incomplete...
I'll leave it here anyway for reasons, or no reason. Whichever.
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#20
(2016-11-27, 12:42 am)SomeCallMeChris Wrote: I wouldn't put too much faith in the latest scientific research either, to be honest. Lets consider how it was considered that fat was universally bad, and then maybe just unsaturated fats are bad or maybe transfats, and oh wait, actually fats are essential nutrients and actually all those low-fat diets are ruining your health and those starches you're eating instead are worse for you and giving you diabetes while the lack of fats is ruining your mental and physical health.

Yes, that's how science works. When a mistake is discovered, it is corrected. Besides, the anti-fats movement was based on government policies and a media campaign, not an objective evaluation of existing science.

And I didn't suggest putting any faith in it. I suggested learning about it, and deciding for yourself. There is some very compelling science showing that added sugars and processed meats are bad for you.
Edited: 2016-11-27, 7:19 am
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#21
(2016-11-27, 12:42 am)SomeCallMeChris Wrote: I wouldn't put too much faith in the latest scientific research either, to be honest. Lets consider how it was considered that fat was universally bad, and then maybe just unsaturated fats are bad or maybe transfats, and oh wait, actually fats are essential nutrients and actually all those low-fat diets are ruining your health and those starches you're eating instead are worse for you and giving you diabetes while the lack of fats is ruining your mental and physical health...

There's a huge difference between large decades long peer-reviewed longitudinal studies, studies with 20-30 subjects and what you read in the magazines near the checkouts at the grocery store. I wouldn't put much faith in the last 2 categories, but large peer-reviewed studies are the best that we have to go on. Much better than anecdotal stories about somebodies great uncle who lived to 103 drinking whole milk and smoking 2 packs a day. Of course sometimes the data shows false correlations and the science is proven to be wrong, but they get a lot more right than they get wrong.

Finding good information is tricky unless you feel like wading through academic papers and dense jargon. However I would put a lot of faith in the books published by some of the top medical school presses.
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#22
(2016-11-27, 8:33 pm)yogert909 Wrote: Much better than anecdotal stories about somebodies great uncle who lived to 103 drinking whole milk and smoking 2 packs a day.  

Funny thing about that, I remember reading somewhere that reduced fat milk is actually less healthy than whole milk. Something about the interaction between the fats and the proteins in the milk that prevents something from happening in your gut... Of course, I can't remember where I read that, so the source might have been one of the latter two groups you mentioned.

And, of course, whole milk isn't actually 'whole' milk, it's 'milk that's had the fat removed, processed, and added back to make a product with around 3% fat content' milk, unless you buy fancy milk or own cows. So what, if any, change in the healthiness of the product occurs during that processing is a mystery, beyond it being pasteurized.

I compromise on the 'to drink milk or not to drink milk' thing by buying a nicer brand that tastes better (there's a huge difference in taste between the cheap stuff and the fancy stuff) and not drinking it as often. Thankfully, the brand I buy comes in a carton instead of a jug, so it lasts a lot longer.
Edited: 2016-11-27, 8:59 pm
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#23
(2016-11-27, 8:56 pm)sholum Wrote: Funny thing about that, I remember reading somewhere that reduced fat milk is actually less healthy than whole milk. Something about the interaction between the fats and the proteins in the milk that prevents something from happening in your gut... Of course, I can't remember where I read that, so the source might have been one of the latter two groups you mentioned.

And, of course, whole milk isn't actually 'whole' milk, it's 'milk that's had the fat removed, processed, and added back to make a product with around 3% fat content' milk, unless you buy fancy milk or own cows. So what, if any, change in the healthiness of the product occurs during that processing is a mystery, beyond it being pasteurized.

I compromise on the 'to drink milk or not to drink milk' thing by buying a nicer brand that tastes better (there's a huge difference in taste between the cheap stuff and the fancy stuff) and not drinking it as often. Thankfully, the brand I buy comes in a carton instead of a jug, so it lasts a lot longer.

"Whole milk" is un-pasteurized milk. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to 72 degrees Celsius, to kill pathogenic bacteria.

Like I said: it's up to you to decide which foods are safer than others (ie whether heating milk to 72 degrees is more or less dangerous than to drink it raw)...but, in this case, the answer is pretty obvious.
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#24
(2016-11-27, 10:29 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: "Whole milk" is un-pasteurized milk.

At least in the US, whole milk is just used to describe milk that is not fat reduced. Un-pasteruized milk would be "raw" milk but its highly regulated and even illegal in some states. (Wikipedia)
Edited: 2016-11-27, 10:58 pm
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#25
(2016-11-27, 10:29 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: "Whole milk" is un-pasteurized milk. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to 72 degrees Celsius, to kill pathogenic bacteria.

I'm having a heck of a time finding a legal definition for 'whole milk' in the FDA's documentation, though I did find one for 'dry whole milk' and the phrase 'whole milk' does appear once in this article on Grade 'A' requirements under subsection O of section 1. However, unpasteurized milk straight from the cow is legally considered 'raw milk'; I've never heard this use for 'whole milk'.

The definition of 'milk' being:
http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cd...FR=131.110 Wrote:(a) Description. Milk is the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows. Milk that is in final package form for beverage use shall have been pasteurized or ultrapasteurized, and shall contain not less than 8 1/4 percent milk solids not fat and not less than 3 1/4 percent milkfat. Milk may have been adjusted by separating part of the milkfat therefrom, or by adding thereto cream, concentrated milk, dry whole milk, skim milk, concentrated skim milk, or nonfat dry milk. Milk may be homogenized.

[Note the required milkfat content; this excludes 2%, 1%, skim, low-fat, non-fat, and any other reduced fat milk products, which leads me to think this definition is the one intended by 'whole milk' when it is mentioned elsewhere.]

Which allows for recombination (as do Grade 'A' standards) of milk during processing. Separation and recombination is used to standardized fat content in milk products (following source says 'to provide a consistent product'; I'm fairly sure it's mostly so that they can extract more product from the raw milk). I'm not completely sold on the legitimacy of the following source's definition of 'whole milk', since I didn't see a source listed, but it matches the above definition of 'milk' and personal experience. I've also seen documentaries that overview milk processing, and I want to say that 'How It's Made' did an episode on milk that touched on the processing briefly, but I can't find it.
http://www.milkfacts.info/Milk%20Process...uction.htm Wrote:Standardization

The fat content of milk varies with species (cow, sheep, goat, water buffalo), animal breed, feed, stage of lactation, and other factors. In order to provide the consumer with a consistent product, most milk in the U.S. is standardized.

To achieve standardization, milk is processed through centrifugal separators to create a skim portion and a cream portion of the milk. Separation produces a skim portion that is less than 0.01% fat and a cream portion that is usually 40% fat, although the desired fat content of the cream portion can be controlled by changing settings on the separator. The cream portion is then added back to the skim portion to yield the desired fat content for the product. Common products are whole milk (3.25% fat), 2% and 1% fat milk, and skim milk (< 0.1% fat).

If 'Good Eats' has taught me anything (besides all the other things it's taught me) it's that legal definitions of food are precise about a couple of (important) requirements and vague everywhere else, and this is exploited to the best of the manufacturers' ability.


While I haven't checked the numbers to be sure, based on taste alone, there seems to be more milkfat in the fancier milk than in the cheap milk; only thing I can go on is the smoother feel and butterier taste.
I've never had a chance to try raw milk.
Edited: 2016-11-28, 12:00 am
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