All About Shelf-Stable (Aseptic) Milk
This week, Western Dairy learned about Aseptic milk from Deni Odugbemi, Quality Assurance Leader for Kroger Mountain View Foods. Mountain View Foods is Kroger’s newest milk processing plant, located right here in Denver and it began producing aseptic milk and juice products earlier in 2015. Odugbemi answered all of our questions – so now we can answer yours!
How can milk be shelf-stable? What do they do to the milk?
Milk is made shelf-stable (refrigeration not require for storage) by pasteurizing it at a higher temperature. They call this Ultra High Temperature pasteurization, or UHT pasteurization. Traditional milk is heated up to at least 161 degrees for 15 seconds to kill any bacteria in the milk. With UHT, it is heated up to 275 degrees for 3 seconds. Both methods kill all bacteria present in the milk.
But that’s not the only thing that makes aseptic milk last on the shelf without pasteurizing. It also involves the sterile packaging and sterile environment that the packaging happens in.
First, the bottles are produced on site; they are then sterilized so that it is absolutely clean. The milk is later packaged into the bottles in a pristine environment so that no bacteria or pathogens can enter the equation. The combination of UHT pasteurization and bottling sterilization ensures that the milk from Mountain View Foods lasts 4 months on the shelf without refrigeration.
Is it still real milk?
Yes! The aseptic milk is made with the same delicious, high-quality fresh milk from Colorado dairy farms. The aseptic milk from Mountain View foods are made from Colorado proud milks.
How long is this milk good once I open it?
Aseptic milk will stay good in your pantry for up to 4 months. However, once you open it, it must be refrigerated immediately. Aseptic milk is fresh tasting within 7 days of opening.
The important thing in making any milk last longer is to keep it refrigerated – don’t ever leave milk out on the counter and try to finish individual servings of milk within an hour of serving. For every hour that your (traditional or opened aseptic) milk is above 45 degrees, you’ll lose a day of life off the label. So if it takes you an hour to get home after you leave the grocery store with a gallon of traditional milk and the milk’s temperature rises to 45 degrees, it will last one day short of the date listed for freshness.
Is aseptic milk good for the environment?
Dairy farmers work hard to be environmentally sound on-farm, so dairy processors try to continue that tradition at the plant too. Kroger’s Mountain View Foods plant has the goal to be zero-waste, so all materials that are “trash” at the facility are recycled.
In addition, Colorado’s dairy farms are committed to producing the purest milk possible on-farm, which means that the plant gets a better product to start with and getting it ready for the consumer is easier.
The bottles for their aseptic milk are made by a Colorado-based company and Kroger blows them into bottles on-site. Then they are shrink-wrapped to keep the light out, which is a recyclable material as well.
In addition, aseptic milk is being made in smaller packages to help prevent food waste. So the last couple glasses of milk from the gallon jug no longer have to be wasted if the jug goes bad before you can finish it!
Western Dairy is happy to have so many wonderful dairy farmers AND dairy processors in our region! Next time you shop at a King Soopers, be sure to try some of the new aseptic milk and let us know what you think!