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Last Updated: August 1, 2012

Since 1938, the Ontario Health Act has required pasteurization of all milk and cream for human consumption. It is illegal to sell or even give away milk, cream or milk products that have not been pasteurized in a plant licensed under the Milk Act. Pasteurization destroys pathogens, such as salmonella and E. coli, that can cause human illness. It has been used extensively as an effective and efficient method of preventing transmission of foodborne illness to consumers via milk and milk products.

In general terms, pasteurization is the process of heating a food, usually a liquid, to a specific temperature for a definite period of time, then cooling it immediately. Pasteurization is the main reason for milk's extended shelf life. It has been one of the most beneficial and cost-effective measures to protect the health of the consumer. For more information on pasteurization check the Dairy Science and Technology Education Series website at the University of Guelph.

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