Understanding Shelf life of Milk

Shelf life of Milk

Every milk packet or tetra pack milk comes with dates labeled on it. Do you know what these dates mean? Many people do not completely understand what these dates mean and end up wasting a lot of food. They do not know that the date mentioned on the milk packet or carton does not indicate the last day it can be consumed. In some packets or cartons, there are several dates mentioned. Mostly, you will find:

“Date of packaging”: This date indicates the day on which the milk was packaged.

“Best before”: This date indicates that the milk, when stored according to the stated conditions, will remain fully marketable and contain all the qualities mentioned. Post this date, although the milk will be consumable, the quality of food can diminish. However, it should not be purchased as it can get unsafe.

“Use by date” or “Expiry date”: This date indicates the day post which the milk will probably not have any qualities left. Its safety attributes will also be compromised and hence, it should not be purchased.

Most brands in India sell pasteurized milk. In this process, milk is heated to a certain temperature and then cooled down. As a result, various pathogenic microorganisms like E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella are exterminated. This helps to increase the shelf life of milk up to a few weeks as well. However, pasteurizing the milk is not sufficient to kill all the microorganisms present in the milk and hence, it gets spoiled after a certain period of time.

A study shows that the temperature at which you store the milk affects the shelf life of milk. If you can refrigerate it at the ideal temperature, it can go past its mentioned date as well. Just change the refrigerator temperature from 6°C to 4°C and avoid storing milk at room temperature as much as possible.

Unrefrigerated milk is available in the market as well. This type of milk is produced by using the ultra-heat treatment (UHT) method. Although it is similar to the pasteurization process, it is heated to a much higher temperature. If not opened, UHT milk shelf life can be 2 to 4 weeks. If you store this long shelf life milk in a cool and dry place, it can last past its printed date as well.

If you want to buy good quality pasteurized or UHT milk, buy from Lactel, which is France’s No.1 brand & one of the top milk brands in the world.