The next time you sit tongue-tied at a social gathering, why not throw out a remark on some controversial subject? You could mention religion, politics or milk. All of these subjects are bound to galvanize the group into heated argument . . . er, discussion.

The results, of course, may not be enlightening. It is unclear why milk is so controversial, but plenty of what you you hear about it is wrong. Here are some wrong ideas I've heard recently. They range from downright dangerous to merely mild misconceptions.

"EXTRA NONFAT DRY MILK IN BABY'S BOTTLE IS GOOD" - a dangerously wrong idea. Excess protein can have serious, even fatal consequences on young infants. Nonfat dry milk is over 35 per cent protein. Neither it nor any other high protein substance should be added to already adequate baby formulas except under explicit instruction from you from your doctor.

'RAW MILK IS BETTER FOR YOU" . . . also a dangerously wrong idea. The problem with raw milk is that it often contains very risky bacteria, straight from the cow. The mild heat treatment of pasteurizaton removes the risk but reduces the levels of two vitamins. One of these vitamins, thiamine, is reduced only slightly; the other, vitamin C, is abundantly available in other foods.

"THE REASON FRESH MILK KEEPS IS THAT PRESERVATIVES ARE PUT IN IT" . . . No! No! No! This is quite untrue. But milk does keep better now than it did 10 years ago. The reason is that milk is handled more carefully now. For example, about three years ago, a law was passed requiring a temperature-recording device to continuously monitor farm milk. If the record shows excessive storage of temperature, the trucker will not pick up the milk.

"YOGURT IS MORE NUTRITIOUS THAN MILK" . . . this is not exactly true. Bacteria consume some of the B vitamins as they convert milk to yogurt. For example, Vitamin E12 is reduced by about 75 per cent in the process. However, commercial yogurt is usually made with 50 per cent more milk solids than fluid milk, hence has more proteins and calcium.

"NON-INSTANT DRY MILK HAS LOWER HEAT PROCESSING AND IS MORE NUTRITIOUS" . . . Wrong again.This is a very persistent untruth. The process used to make instant nonfat dry milk does not involve used to make instant nonfat dry milk does not involve not involve heat at all. In fact, most of the non-instant nonfat dry milk sold is subjected to higher heat treatments, in order to improve performance in bread making in commercial bakeries. Instant nonfat dry milk has been quite thoroughly studied in animal feeding experiments and the nutritional losses from the processing are insignificant.

"BUTTERMILK CONTAINS NO FAT" . . . No so. Buttermilk can be made from nonfat milk, but usually it isn't.