IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The tastiest milk lurks in the darkest of corners

The fluorescent lights in refrigerated dairy cases create an oxidized off-flavor in milk that some experts call “burnt.” The closer the milk container is to the light, and the longer it stays there, the greater the chance of an off-flavor.
/ Source: Reuters

Does your milk taste like wet cardboard? Blame the bright lights in your market’s dairy section.

“Milk stored within a few inches of fluorescent light in translucent containers usually has a detectable oxidized flavor within two to four hours and a distinct off-flavor within 12 hours,” said Robert Marshall, University of Missouri food science professor.

Fluorescent lights in dairy cases create an oxidized off-flavor in milk that some experts call “burnt.” The closer the milk container is to the light, and the longer it stays there, the greater the chance of an off-flavor, Marshall said in a statement.

While the oxidation has little effect on milk’s nutritional value and is not related to bacteria, fluorescent light does inactivate riboflavin (vitamin B2) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Whole milk suffers the least because it has a high level of fat which blocks out the damaging wavelengths.

Milk in clear glass containers goes off-flavor quicker than milk in translucent plastic jugs, and opaque paper board cartons deter the problem altogether.

So when you buy milk, Marshall says, reach to the back of the dairy section.

“Get it from the dark, definitely don’t get the front row,” he noted.