One pint of cow's milk contains 0.7 grams of calcium, and traces of vitamins A, B, C and D. Nine pints are sufficient nourishment for a day of hard work. For up to three weeks in bed, three pints a day suffice. It is, however, one of the most likely foods with which radioactive iodine, calcium and strontium in fallout may be swallowed. Readily contaminated by gases and dirty hands, it is often associated with outbreaks of brucellosis, cholera, diphtheria, dysentery, polio, Q fever, salmonellosis, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, typhoid and other diseases. It is important to ensure its purity.
The micro-organisms of these diseases can usually be destroyed by either pasteurising or sterilising the milk. Pasteurisation involves keeping the milk between 145°F./63°C. and 150°F./65°C. for half an hour, and then quickly cooling it to below 50°F./10°C. Or it may be done by raising the milk to at least 161°F./71.7°C. for fifteen seconds.
Milk is sterilised by keeping it at 212°F./100°C. for fifteen minutes. This is difficult in the home and is also destroys the vitamin C and thiamine content but, if the milk is then immediately stored in a sterile, airtight container it will not decompose.
Milk can be rendered safe from the shorter-lived fallout substances such as iodine 131 and strontium 89 if it is made into cheese and stored while these decay. This will not, of course, make it safe from such as cesium 137 which it may also contain.