Milk is an ideal source of nutrients with a lot of benefits, such as healthy bones, healthy teeth and rehydration but it is highly vulnerable to contamination and quality degradation that can occur during collection, transportation, storage and retailing at shops, making it difficult for people to get safe and pure milk.
For transportation and storage of milk, a cold chain is needed to keep it below a certain temperature. Without cold chain milk gets spoilt and to prevent spoilage, milk sellers/gawalas put ice in milk. Even if they are not adding any adulterants, the source water of that ice can be contaminated and unsafe for human health.
Over 90% of milk consumed in Pakistan is loose milk and chances are high that this milk is contaminated due to various reasons ranging from animal health to the storage container being used by the milk seller.
However, the packaged milk value chain eliminates these risks through quality checks that are conducted at various levels. The aseptic processing technology, including the UHT process, eliminates bacteria and other impurities without the loss of essential nutrients.
To raise awareness about the milk quality, Tetra Pak – world’s leading food processing and packaging company – in collaboration with the Pakistan Dairy Association and the Grow Healthy Pakistan Initiative hosted a breakfast where food and industry experts briefed the audience about the quality assurance measures taken by UHT milk processors in Pakistan.
Before its packaging and processing, more than 30 tests are conducted on milk after its collection from farms and if a doubt about its quality arises at any stage, the whole batch is discarded.
Packaged milk does not need chemical treatment because of its 6-layer carton packaging that protects the milk from light, air and oxygen as milk goes bad/sour when it is exposed to light, air and oxygen that let microorganism form in it.
The UHT process kills all the bacteria and milk is packed under aseptic conditions in aseptic packaging.
The unique six-layered packaging ensures that there is no ingress of any contaminants into the package, making it completely safe to consume. Packaged milk can be consumed directly from the package without boiling or heating because it has gone through the UHT process.
Milk packed in cartons is homogenized, in which all the natural cream is mixed into the milk itself. That is why upon boiling packaged milk, cream does not `come on top’ like it does in ‘loose’ milk.
Packaged milk, once opened, like any other natural product becomes susceptible to bacteria, heat and moisture. Therefore it should be refrigerated and consumed like any other perishable food product is consumed.
Nutrients are destroyed when milk is boiled at home for a prolonged period; the heat can never get high enough to kill all the harmful bacteria. On the other hand, the UHT milk passes through heating (from 135-137°C) and cooling stages in few seconds that keeps the nutritional value intact. Then it is immediately put into a sterile six-layer carton to reach consumers in a pure form.