Milk is thought to be one of the top five wasted ingredients in Australia and the problem is global. According to US Department of Agriculture data over the past decade, up to one third of milk was estimated to go to waste.

Now US scientists are integrating their knowledge across milk production and processing, microbiology and the supply chain to try to find a solution to the issue of spoiled milk.

In the study at Washington University in St Louis, (‘Washington University In St. Louis: Don’t Cry Over Spoiled Milk, Incentivize Supply Chain For Longer Shelf Life’) two main strategies were found to work for the beginning of the supply chain – on farm and in processing – to prevent psychrotolerant (cold growing) spore-forming bacteria from contaminating and prematurely spoiling milk:

  • Bonus payments or penalties to businesses based on lower or higher spoilage bacteria counts in raw milk.
  • Investing in spore-reducing technologies at the processing level.

Their study concluded that these strategies combined could improve milk shelf life anywhere between one half day to 13 days.

This research was published in the July issue of Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systemsand was discussed in the September/October issue of Food Processing magazine.