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Up to 400 million somatic (pus) cells are legally allowed in each litre of milk sold in the UK.

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Pus (somatic cells) in cow's milk

Viva!'s fully referenced report on goat's milk: Nanny State Report [PDF]

Why is there pus (somatic cells) in cow's and goat's milk?

Mastitis (inflammation of the udder) is a major issue in dairy farming. It results in some of the dead cells, products of inflammation and white blood cells (these are called somatic cells but it essentially means pus) being excreted with milk.

Somatic cells, more commonly known as pus cells, are counted in milk sold for human consumption as there are legal limits as to how much it can contain. Somatic cells are the white blood cells that are the defence against bacteria that invade the udder and can cause mastitis. Cow's milk can legally contain up to 400 million pus cells/litre. So one teaspoonful of milk can legally have two million pus cells!

How much pus is in goats milk?

According to UFAW1, 65% of goat milk samples will have a cell count greater than 1,000 million cells per litre.


  1. Goats. Chapter by Alan Mowlem. Management and Welfare of Farmed Animals. The UFAW Farm Handbook. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, 2011 Ed. John Webster, Wiley Blackwell, p 379, 2011.

Cow's milk

> Somatic cells in cows milk

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If you'd like a paper copy, please order it here.

If you'd like a paper copy, please order it here.


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