Milk in Egypt Spotlight on a Dilemma

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Ismail El-Kharbotly


Affectionately dubbed at times as “the fluid of life,” milk has played a vital role in the development of mankind and in the shaping of contemporary culture. From the cheeses of the Swiss or the French to the yak milk of the Asian steppes, milk has irrevocably incorporated itself in most cultures through myth, superstition (spilt milk was thought to signify good luck in some parts of Europe and bad luck in others), habits and traditions. Rich in protein, fat, lactose, and beneficial bacteria and enzymes, milk provides nutrition to children and adults alike, both in liquid form and in preserved forms such as cheese and yogurt. Our ancestors’ inability to preserve milk was the driving force behind the creation of cheese and yogurt, but, due to the dawn of the industrial age and recent advancements in biotechnology—notably the discovery of pasteurization and preservatives—milk can be stored for longer durations in liquid form while remaining safe for consumption. Furthermore, as these modern processes prolong the shelf life of milk, it has been more distributed to geographically distant markets. Modern processes have also effectively removed potentially dangerous pathogens (including, but not limited to, bovine tuberculosis and Chlostridia). Milk producers quickly embraced these processes, and consuming raw, unprocessed milk became an increasingly uncommon occurrence in many developed countries. Today, however, the number of consumers of raw milk in developed countries is rising as more people embrace the “organic” way of life and refuse to consume processed or preserved foods. More and more people visit dairy farms to buy fresh, unprocessed milk. At the same time, governments are making efforts to ensure the safety of dubious products, such as raw milk, for consumption. Meanwhile, the issue of raw milk consumption is becoming increasingly heated, especially in Egypt, where its consumption and risks are common.

Article Details

milk, raw milk, Egypt
How to Cite
El-Kharbotly, I. (2013). Milk in Egypt: Spotlight on a Dilemma. The Columbia University Journal of Global Health, 3(1), 7–9.