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Before the 1900s, cows had to be kept just outside large towns in order that fresh milk, which was brought in by hand or horse drawn carts, could be delivered and sold quickly.
After the industrial revolution people began to live in towns and milk had to be transported longer and longer distances.
Today milk production involves the use of refrigeration at all stages. It starts on the farm where most of the dairy cows are milked in milking parlours by pulsating vacuum machines which transfer the liquid to refrigerated vats. It is then collected by insulated tankers that keep the milk at no more than 4.5°C.
Thanks to mechanical refrigeration and pasteurisation, milk can be kept longer and is safer. When the tankers reach the dairy, the milk is checked to ensure it is free from bacteria, then pasteurised and packaged. With pasteurisation milk is heated to at least 71.7°C for 15 seconds and then quickly cooled to less than 10°C and harmful bacteria are killed.
Thanks to industrial production and the use of cooling throughout the distribution chain it is estimated that by 1989 people in the UK were drinking four times as much milk as their predecessors had in 1889.
Milk cartons stored in bulk are then dispatched to cold store depots and will end up either being sold in shops or delivered direct to your doorstep with your shopping.
Today the UK population consumes about four pints of milk per person per week, as well as a wide variety of milk products, including: cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt and ice cream.