What is Shelf Stable Milk?

Almost everyday, I drink a milk-based protein shake called Orgain. I get it from Whole Foods and it is my breakfast on the go. (With kids, you know how that is!) I never really thought about it until recently, but it is packaged in a paper-like container so I never have to refrigerate it. (One of the beauties of it actually.) I even purchase it off the shelf vs. in the refridgerated section with the other milk products. I like to put it in the fridge because it tastes better cold, but until I open it, I can leave one in the diaper bag and I have it mid-errand when I find myself ravenous for something to eat.

It wasn’t until I was asked to be a part of a sponsored campaign for #milkunleashed that I realized, and understood, the process and benefits of having milk & protein shakes in these kinds of paper packages, rather than cans, bottles or jars that we are used to, so I can take it on the go without worrying about keeping it cold.

This Tetra packaging is part of most paper-based packages – like juice boxes and soup cartons (vs. soup cans.) We all know that juice boxes don’t have to be refrigerated either, but I have never made the connection between my protein shake and my son’s juice box. Thus this Tetra packaging and their processing of the milk makes it shelf stable. Meaning, it does not have to be refrigerated!
 
tetra pak
 
Shelf safe milk is the same milk. It is just in a different type of package, and processed in a different way. How they make it (process it) to make it shelf safe is by using a ultra high temperature to pasteurize the milk in a different way than a standard milk carton. It is ultra pasterized, if you will. They “hit” the milk to a higher temp and cool it down faster (280 degrees for 3 seconds) and then put in shelf safe carton package, which has several layers providing protection to the product. The package is mostly paper – about 70%, with a layer of BPA-free plastic and layer of aluminum foil for an oxygen barrier. Thus, the product stays fresh up to 6 months, as long as you keep it away from extended extreme heat. (Tossing it in a bag to bring to the beach is fine, but don’t store it in the trunk of your car in August.) I think the point to note, is that there is nothing in the milk to make it shelf stable. It is only the technology, and the technology is only heat. This process has been around since the 1960s in South America and Europe. It is a newish thing here as it pertains to milk and milk-products.

I am not sure what is the nutritional value compared to ‘traditional’ milk and whether the high temperatures kill the good stuff, if you know what I mean, but there isn’t anything I could find to the contrary. Plus, having it in this kind of light/oxygen barrier package, does keep nutrients in vs. traditional non-light blocking milk containers. There are studies showing the benefits of that.

Yet, whether you are doubtful or not, having shelf stable milk is great on the go; in school lunch boxes, for example. You don’t need an ice pack! The #milkunleashed campaign has some back to school lunch ideas for you if you want to check them out on Pinterest. I also have some ideas on my Pinterest page for picky eaters too.
 
#milkunleashed
 
Other ideas, other than in school lunches, include camping trips (now you can have milk in your cereal by the campfire) and even for an emergency kit. (Hurricane Sandy comes to mind.) Just update your stock during each daylight savings time. I also like having shelf-stable milk and protein shakes at the kids’ sporting events. Sometimes it can be a great alternative to water because it has protein, which can help you feel full.

The challenge is where to find it in the grocery store. Sometimes it is near the almond/soy milk, sometimes in the refrigerated milk section. The Orgain shakes I use are both in the milk section and next to the protein bars on a standard shelf. If you can’t find what you are looking for, just ask someone to direct you to their logic of store stocking!

And remember to recycle! The Tetra packages are renewable. Just check recyclecartons.com to see if carton recycling is available in your area. Now go and unleash your milk from the confines of the fridge!

 

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About Charlene DeLoach

As a Boston Mom Blogger in Massachusetts, Charlene DeLoach doesn't care about the megapixels on a smartphone. She only cares about whether it will survive being in the hands of her kids.

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