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  1. #1
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    Jul 2006
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    Milk expiration date

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    Okay...dumb question, but I thought I'd tap the vast knowledge base of the TE crew...
    DH likes milk in his coffee, and an occasional glass (usually chocolate) after a ride or every so often. So, he gets the 2% from the local store - store brand - in the plastic half gallon. It often has a stamped expiration date of about 5 days. Often, it goes funky before the expiration date and he gets all kinds of growly and has to dump the stinky remains down the drain.
    So...at the store recently, I picked up a half gallon of organic 2% milk, and it's in a cardboard box. It had a stamped expiration date going out several weeks. And it never got funky, even tho' we don't drink tons and it lingers in the fridge for a bit. Today, DH picked up another half gallon - also organic, also in a cardboard box. It has an expiration date of June 27th!
    So...what's the big difference in the stamped expiration dates??
    We suspect:
    1. The cardboard box allows for much longer shelf life than the plastic jug.
    2. The organic manufactures have better QC and processes and handling that allows for longer times.
    or
    3. The store brand just has crappy QC and processes.
    Thoughts? (I'm leaning towards #1).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    California
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    777
    http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/sc/0208/goldies.html

    Q: What are the differences between "pasteurized" and "ultra-pasteurized" dairy products?

    A: Standard pasteurized milk has been HTST pasteurized meaning "high temperature, short time" heating. The milk is heated to 161.5 degrees F for just 15 seconds, which destroys 99.9 percent of the bacteria. This is the current standard for fluid milk and cheese milk.

    Actually, many or most so-called "raw milk" cheese is made from milk brought to the range of 155 degrees F, which is enough to destroy most pathogens, but not the enzyme phosphatase. This milk, technically not pasteurized, can then be made into fully aged "raw milk" cheese. The beneficial phosphatase enzyme acts as a further safety factor, because it aids in digesting any possible remnant bacteria not otherwise disabled during the aging of the cured raw-milk cheese.

    Refrigerated HTST pasteurized milk is stamped with a "sell-by" date generally 14-21 days and the milk is fine for a few more days. Once opened, any milk should be used within a week or so. The closer to the sell-by date, the shorter the time before it spoils. Regular pasteurized milk has minimal flavor change or nutrient loss.

    Ultra High Temperature Pasteurization (UHT), heats the milk to 280 degrees F for two seconds. It is primarily used because it allows a sharp increase in storage. Other factors affecting storage of UHT milk include choice of packaging materials, whether it is shelf-stable (aseptic boxes, where it can be stored unrefrigerated for very long periods, but where nutrients really begin to drop) or whether it is UHT refrigerated milk. Ultra-pasteurized refrigerated milk (most of the ultra-pasteurized milk PCC carries) can be kept refrigerated up to three times longer than standard pasteurized milk.

    Significant vitamin losses begin about 65 days after processing and packaging. Therefore, the "sell-by" dates stamped on the cartons (which are set by the producer) should reflect a considerably shorter time period, say 45 to 55 days, so that if purchased on the last date, yet used within a few days, there should be no vitamins lost. In this context, (appropriate manufacturing, handling, packaging, storing, and use) ultra-high temperature pasteurized milk is considered equivalent to regular pasteurized milk, according to the American Dietetic Association.

    Flavor differences
    Flavor is subjective. I know of no "blindfold" taste tests on consumers. Some cooking authorities say ultra-pasteurized cream does not whip well. My personal experience is that the fresher the cream, the easier the whip, but since I only indulge maybe two or three times a year, what do I know? And if ultra-but-organic-cream is what is on the shelf, I'll take it.

    Nutritional differences?
    Not according to the American Dietetic Association. In fact, the enzyme phosphatase is destroyed by even the much lower temperature (161.5 degrees F) used in regular pasteurization, and no further enzyme degradation is associated with the higher temperature of UHT pasteurization.

    In fact, UHT milk is sometimes suggested as providing a better option for those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBT), but don't want to eliminate milk, which can be a "trigger" food in IBT. UHT milk may be less likely to cause them difficulty than regular pasteurized milk.

    Perhaps the most niggling issue of all to some consumers is the fact that only organic brands have ultra-pasteurized milk in the refrigerated case.

    Location, location, location!
    The economics of dairy production are very tight, but especially so for organic dairies. Organic producers must have access to organic land and funding sufficient for organic herd acquisition and expensive equipment. Because their operations are usually small, there is no "economy of scale."

    They must have a farm plan providing for organic replacement stock. They must provide for herd health and maintenance, with no drugs, following organic standards. They must be able to guarantee continued access to 100 percent organic feed. They must pay organic certification fees.

    Most organic milk is necessarily processed in plants that mostly process non-organic milk. They must segregate the organic milk production. Even if there is a pool of organic milk and a processor to handle it, many times it still needs to be transported vast distances and the clock is ticking. Then ultra-pasteurization is helpful to maintain a viable, safe milk.

    Where it all comes together or falls apart is, can they get that milk to the consumer? How long will it take to transport it to the plant? Can they share that cost by pooling with other organic dairies "up the road." Distance from urban centers, where demand for refrigerated organic milk is highest, is also a critical factor. Every day spent processing, every day spent transporting to the wholesaler, then to the store, into the case, and finally to the consumer, the clock is ticking for liquid milk's use.

    Now, perhaps, we can begin to see the reason that much of the organic liquid milk from Horizon and Organic Valley is ultra-pasteurized. Organic producers were reluctant to use the method, primarily because they anticipated that consumers would be leery of the higher temperature and extended dates. Each of the two companies has some milk regularly pasteurized (coming from closer dairies) and some ultra-pasteurized (because of time and distance, pure and simple).

    Before providing the UHT pasteurization method, many retailers, including PCC stores, had scores of very dissatisfied customers, returning organic milk because it "turned" so quickly and was unacceptable. Now consumers do have a choice. Choice is good!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    It doesn't sound to me like your organic milk is ultra-pasteurized. Was the "box" refrigerated when you bought it? UHT milk would have been NON refrigerated.

    I'd say try milk from another grocery store though. I'm suspicious about how they handle their inventory. I can't imagine how it would have anything to do with the organic part of it, unless their "non-organic" version has really weird stuff added. Yuck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    2,618
    I've had UHT pasteurized milk from the fresh milk section, in a cardboard carton. One was an organic brand, lactose-free, and the non-organic Lactaid milk is also ultra-pasteurized.
    For 3 days, I get to part of a thousand other journeys.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Dallas, TX
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    The organic milk that I buy (Horizon) is ultra pasturized in the carton and it is in the refrigerated section of the grocery.
    Mary
    ~Strong and content, I travel the open road.~



    http://www.the3day.org/goto/mary.aguirre

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    3,867
    I buy four gallons of Horizon ultra-pastuerized organic milk at Sam's at a time. (I have to drive 30 miles to Sam's.) I have a 6'2" 16 year old boy in the house who drinks a lot of milk. Gallons and gallons of milk. I switched him to organic when he started drinking so much--if he's going to drink so much I want it to be good for him.

    I can buy the Horizon in such quantities only because the expiry date is about 6 weeks out when we buy it. It rarely lasts more than 8-10 days, but on occasion he has fallen behind, and the milk has never been less than perfect.

    It's always refrigerated, at Sam's and at home.

    Karen
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    insidious ungovernable cardboard

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    1,334
    Grog, my friend went down to Costco in the States and was saying the same thing, how the milk down there has a sell-by date that is like 6 weeks. So, my guess is Canada doesn't sell UHT pasteurized milk.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Little Egypt
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    The things you learn on TE!
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    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." George Bernard Shaw

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  9. #9
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    Wow!
    Thanks.
    It is indeed a Horizon organic refrigerated carton (not the shelf-stable cardboard box, Grog) (well, the second carton DH got was "Nature's Promise" - which is the store brand organic line, I think). It is listed as Ultra-Pasteurized. Never gave that a thought.
    Thanks for the info! Now I know. Cool.
    Last edited by 7rider; 05-06-2010 at 05:45 AM.

  10. #10
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    Sep 2009
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    Columbus, OH
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    I always find that milk in the standard plastic jugs has an "off" smell to me after a few days of being open. My husband says he can't tell a difference and keeps drinking it. I think I have a more sensitive nose than he does, plus I hate the "plasticky" smell that the milk gets after sitting in the carton.

    Have you checked your refridgerator temperature? It should be below 40 degrees F. If it's above that, your food will spoil faster. Also, the fridge doors are the warmest place, so if you store your milk in the door it will go bad faster (unless you have one of those nifty enclosed shelves that have cold air blown directly into it to keep milk cold).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jp4995 View Post
    Also, the fridge doors are the warmest place, so if you store your milk in the door it will go bad faster (unless you have one of those nifty enclosed shelves that have cold air blown directly into it to keep milk cold).
    Fridge temp is about 36-38, and we do have one of those enclosed compartments on the door where the cold air is blown directly in.
    It's a pretty fancy fridge, so far as fridges go!

  12. #12
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    Nov 2009
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    This is good to know about Horizon milk. I drink a LOT of milk, though perhaps not as much as Tuckervill's son. I have pondered moving to organic milk in the past, I think I will give it a try!

  13. #13
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    Nov 2005
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    organic milk just tastes so much better. And if you go to looking into what's in non-organic milk, it'll make you cringe. Some folks consider all dairy a bad thing, but I happen to like it, particularly chocolate milk after a hard ride. It's the best recovery drink for me. And if I start to bonk, nothing brings me back like chocolate milk and potato chips. That combo has saved me twice.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    We've been buying Hood's (local brand) ultra pasteurized milk for years. My half gallon of skim is often around for a month, since I rarely use it (cereal and coffee once in awhile). DH buys one half gallon a week of 1%. In the summer, I buy the skim chocolate milk for a recovery drink. It's not organic, though. I have, on occasion bought the organic ultra pasteurized when I was at the farm market or health food store, but it was unbelievably expensive. For someone like me, who can barely stand the taste or smell of milk, it wasn't worth it.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Dallas, TX
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    +1 on organic milk tasting better!
    Mary
    ~Strong and content, I travel the open road.~



    http://www.the3day.org/goto/mary.aguirre

 

 

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