What Is Ultra-Filtered Milk and Should You Bother?
Fairlife milk promises increased protein and calcium, decreased sugar, and no lactose
Fairlife is a brand of ultra-filtered milk distributed by the Coca-Cola Company. The product promises to have increased protein and calcium, decreased sugar, and no lactose. Its goal is to deliver more nutrients to people’s bodies without having to drink more milk. But is that all true? Let's investigate.
One cup of 2 percent Fairlife milk contains 13 grams of protein and 40 percent of the daily recommended amount of calcium (approximately 400 milligrams) that should be taken by adults following a 2000-calorie-a-day diet. Alternatively, one cup of 2 percent Tuscan DairyPure, Lactaid, and Horizon Organic milks all contain 8 grams of protein and 30 percent calcium (these numbers are considered average for 2 percent milk).
The higher levels of protein and calcium are the result of what they call cold-filtration, a method that was “inspired by the same process that removes impurities from water,” according to the Fairlife website. The milk is then separated into its five components (water, minerals, lactose, protein, and butterfat), after which it is recombined to optimize the liquid’s nutritional properties. Their main products—1 percent, 2 percent, chocolate milk—are all lactose-free, so while they are technically real dairy milk, it shouldn’t bother those who are lactose-intolerant. Fairlife’s 2 percent milk contains reduced fat ultra-filtered milk, lactase enzyme, vitamin A Palmitate, and vitamin D3.
Fairlife also lasts longer in the store than other milks. “Ordinary milk is pasteurized at a high temperature for 15-20 seconds,” according to the Fairlife website. “We pasteurize our milk at an even higher temperature for less time. That gives Fairlife much longer shelf life unopened.” They do note that after opening, Fairlife’s shelf life is the same as any other dairy milk.
I've bought Fairlife before. I’ll pick up one of their 11.5-ounce bottles when I know I’ll be going out of town soon but still need milk for my morning coffee. Other than juice box-sized cartons of milk intended for children’s lunches, Fairlife tends to be the only available option for a container of milk smaller than a quart. The reasoning behind making this size probably has more to do with an effort to get folks to select a bottle of (high protein! less sugar!) milk instead of a single-serving soda when grabbing a quick beverage. Of course, Fairlife is distributed by the Coca-Cola Company, so it’s unlikely they’d mind too much if you did still pick up a soda.
I’ve only tasted Fairlife 2 percent milk. Its flavor reminded me of shelf-stable dairy milk, meaning it tasted like real milk, but also was different. In coffee, though, I noticed no stark difference in flavor from any other milk. I don’t think I would ever switch to Fairlife completely. I do appreciate the small bottle size, though, because coming home after a trip to a half gallon of sour milk is never ideal.