Phipps: The Problem With Dairy Consumption

December 19, 2016 11:41 AM

Dairy producers have a long-running problem with milk consumption. Despite clever and effective ads and marketing campaigns, per capita milk consumption has been on a steady downtrend.

One reason, according to grandchildren I have interviewed is the taste. And now new research from Virginia Tech points out one big contributor that problem: milk containers under fluorescent lighting.

Translucent milk jugs like this one allow the intense photo-energy from fluorescent lights to alter molecules like riboflavin, causing the normally slightly sweet taste of freshly processed milk to become "cardboardy", as one researcher put it. Food scientists have known about this for years. It also affects beer which is why most bottles are brown.

But I have some very good news - I think. As retailers are replacing fluorescent lights to cut their energy bills by up to 40%, they will gain a side benefit of less milk taste degradation. And guess light source what they switching to?


Honestly, this research just appeared in the Journal of Dairy Science. I'm really not trying to prolong an argument. And think about what else this means.

It is likely milk will have a longer shelf life even in high density polyethylene - HDPE - containers. Consumers want to see the product, which is why such jugs are popular, but the lower light emissions from LEDs means less photo-degrading energy affects the milk.  

I also bet this flavor preserving change will also slow the demand for raw milk avoiding its associated health hazards.

So with any luck Americans will finally start tasting milk as it really is over the next months. That a win-win for the dairy industry, consumers, and LED fans.

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Spell Check

Wooster, OH
12/20/2016 10:02 AM

  I have never understood why milk marketers and retailers have never fixed the off taste problem caused by lights that has been there for years. I have returned many jugs of off flavor milk. I also quit shopping at those stores.

Jeanie Siggaard
Sidney , MT
12/20/2016 08:12 AM

  I think with all the available research most people in the U.S. know the danger of consuming food and drink from plastic containers. Combined with the antibiotics and hormones flooding the systems of dairy cattle, I think the dairy industry has a little bigger problem than just taste.

Peachey farmer
Waynesboro, GA
12/20/2016 01:17 PM

  Health hazards associated with raw milk! Ok I won't deny the fact, milk is a perishable product! Which is more of a concern to you? a local individual producing a product he is proud of, or a company which employs people who don't even want to be there , much less don't give a crap about the product they're working with ? Take BLUE BELL for example and the issues with quality they've had,and I could go down the list of many more Like a major co-op sitting on 4 million pounds of contaminated products at the moment! Now I only mention all that to say this, don't think outlawing raw milk is going to solve your food safety issues!. I think people need to have the freedom to buy what they want, where they want to. Also the only reason I name Blue Bell is because that's my favorite brand of ice cream!! and I will continue to buy it as long as it is available, and if you want to taste some of the best ice cream made,try it. You won't be disappointed. Now check this out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 202 cases of illness caused by tainted dairy products from 1993 through 2006, involved raw milk or raw-milk cheese, Now check this out In the state of GA there are over1,100 moving vehicle fatalities every year!, we all keep driving without thinking twice Around 300 of them are from drunk driving! That's in one year !in one state! Not 13 years in fifty states .....and understand that's fatalities! not an illness and alcohol is still sold and bought! almost anywhere you can buy milk here.


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