What is permeate free milk?

July 12, 2012 BY: LISA

It seems we have another issue to consider when doing the weekly shop:

  • Does our milk contain permeate?
  • By the way what is permeate?

Permeate is a by-product of an ultra-filtration process which occurs in cheese making. Permeate consists mainly of lactose (milk sugar) and is naturally part of whole milk.

Traditionally permeate has been perceived as a ‘waste product’ of cheese production however more recently it is being added back into milk in order to sustain the cheap milk prices in the 2 major supermarkets.

By law permeate is allowed to be added to milk and historically has been added to ensure a consistency in taste. Milk flavour and
composition does alter throughout the seasons as the pastures the cows feed on become more lush or conversely dryer – this has an impact on taste and milk consistency. Reading Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby’s blog food watch the spring milk fresh from the cow is creamier than at other times of the year.

So really whether permeate is added into the milk or not is really a moot point. The reason it is being added in is to help consumers get the low prices they want and to ensure that  farmers can also make a living. It is perfectly legal long as the milk’s composition stays within the limits of the food code’s standard.

The conclusion’s made by Catherine Saxelby, I think, summarise the issue well:

Saxelby says, “We have a right to know what’s in our food so that we can make informed decisions. If we’re prepared to pay more for whole milk that really is whole milk that should be our choice and if we want to buy the cheaper alternatives we have a right know how much is milk and how much is permeate.” Thanks Catherine!

Milk is an important contributor to our daily calcium needs, it can be low fat and is low Glycaemic Index (GI) so it forms an important part of our diet everyday. Milk makes an excellent snack and contributes to a healthy breakfast. So whether you choose to drink permeate free milk or stick with your usual brand- rest assured you are making a great food choice.


Lisa Renn (APD)

Lisa Renn is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and owner/director of Body Warfare Nutrition in Ringwood, Melbourne. Lisa is an author, speaker and media liaison- her speciality area is creating change in people’s lives by helping them understand their unhelpful thoughts and habits. Connect with Lisa on Google +





  1. Why do you have to make it sound so sinister? It’s not all a money-making scheme, its to make sure consumers are receiving a consistent product. I think you need to read this article…


    July 31st, 2012
  2. Hi Tammy,
    I wasn’t trying to make it sound sinister just trying to clarify what permeate actually is! Apologies if my writing gave the wrong impression.

    August 8th, 2012
  3. I find shopping a minefield now Labels aren’t always a help
    I am lactose intolerant so I need to know if extra lactose is added to a food I had no idea what permeate was.

    Marsha Ferris
    July 31st, 2012
  4. I had no idea what permeate was, thanks Lisa for clarifying that, doesn’t sound sinister at all.

    August 24th, 2012
  5. Thanks I found this very helpful.

    September 5th, 2012
  6. Woolworths home brand skimmer is now permeate free. So they are not selling cheap dodgy milk as some would suggest.

    November 23rd, 2012
  7. If permeate is a by product of the milk that we make cheese out of,what is the problem in putting it back in the milk! Closed loop recycling at its healthy best!

    Adrian Yates
    November 27th, 2012
  8. Does permeate contain rennet as some cheeses do

    December 2nd, 2012
  9. Thanks Lisa. You really did clarify this for us. We don’t know what Tammy’s on about. Thanks for UHT (ur handy tip ;))

    December 20th, 2012
  10. This article What is permeate free milk? | Body Warfare
    Nutrition | Healthy Eating | Weight Loss | Melbourne, contains truly fantastic information and I discovered just what I was basically hoping for.
    I Appreciate it.

    December 20th, 2012
  11. Permeate free costs $2.00 per 2 litre and tastes terrible! I have always used full cream milk and now it costs $2.99 per 2 litre,
    So i am buying milk still has permeate in it, which now costs more? Don’t understand the concept as milk with permeate should be cheaper not dearer?? As per your comment above, Its obvious any milk with permeate is cheaper for the farmer so how does this work? do you know how hard it it to find full cream milk only one brand i can find Riverina
    Absolute price gouging if you ask me!

    February 3rd, 2013
  12. I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This article posted at this web
    site is actually good.

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    July 22nd, 2013
  13. Lisa you say its a great food choice? that smells of milk industry smack…its processed and dead, compare that processed dead food choice with that of raw milk and human breast milk for example and you would come to the conclusion that there are far better food choices then processed damaged cows milk? =)

    But I guess its better then nothing? the war on and for control of our food supply rages on and if certain corporations get there way non-living milk products are only going to degrade further and be even less useful to the human body. some people don’t see it coming until its killing them and they are literally “PAYING” for it. chow for now, like the way you wrote the article btw even though I don’t agree with all of it..good work^_^

    July 27th, 2013
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    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again right here regularly. I’m fairly certain I will be informed many new stuff proper
    here! Best of luck for the following!

    Ork Morze
    August 1st, 2013

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