Packaging materials and methods for dairy applications

18 August 2016  •  Author(s): Professor Kata Galić, Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, University of Zagreb

Milk is the best example of a food product that, due to processing technology, packaging material and method, is able to extend its shelf life from hours into weeks and months.


The first packaging of milk came with the introduction of sterilised milk processing, in which the glass bottle formed an integral part. The glass bottle as the retail package for milk was used until the 1930s, at which time waxed paper was introduced. The development and introduction of plastic materials, both alone and in combination with paper, resulted in a wide range of containers suitable for dairy products packaging.

The shelf-life of bottled fluid milk is reported to average between 10 and 21 days when stored at 4-8°C1. The shelf life varies depending on raw milk quality, processing conditions, microbial growth, packaging materials2, exposure to light2, 3 and temperature abuse4.

The dairy industry is able to achieve a 45-day shelf life through the use of ultrapasteurisation (UP) processes, while ultra-high temperature (UHT) processed products achieve a shelf life of three months to one year with no refrigeration5. The shelf life study, by Petrus et al.4 evaluated the influence of storage temperature on the microbiological stability of homogenised whole pasteurised milk packaged in different polyethylene (PE) monolayer materials, pigmented with titanium dioxide (TiO2). Based on the results of the study, high-density polyethylene (PE-HD) bottles were better for storing pasteurised milk compared with that of a low-density polyethylene (PE-LD) pouch (Table 1, see below).

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One response to “Packaging materials and methods for dairy applications”

  1. Michael Potter says:

    Manufacturers love making new products for us to use, but then we pay the expense of disposing of them. For instance why do we need hybrid packaging such as plastic/aluminium foil/cardboard containers, with a screw on polythene lid, a favourite for alternative type milks.They could alternatively be packaged in the standard waxed or polythene film lined cardboard used for milk. The former is very difficult to recycle, and mostly ends up on the tip face, while the latter standard milk carton is completely recyclable .We also seem to have to many plastic types in food packaging, PVC,PCDC and polystyrene could be eliminated. Sorting of the remaining plastics , PET; high and low density polythene, and polypropylene, for recycling now becomes easier if they are only used as transparent, translucent and opaque respectively. A cleaner and simpler plastic waste stream makes all the recoverables more valuable.

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