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New LED Lights Could Help Milk Taste Better

Dec 06, 2016 04:14 AM EST
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A new study from Virginia Tech revealed that different kinds of lights installed in milk display cases, as well as the type of packaging used, could greatly influence the taste and nutritional content of milk.

The study, published in the Journal of Dairy Science, showed that milk exposed to conventional fluorescent lights appear to taste "cardboard," "stale," and "painty", while milks displayed under new LED lights seem to reduce the negative taste.

"Milk is delicious and nutritious and we want to find ways to protect both of those characteristics to help the industry and provide an even better product to consumers," said Susan Duncan, a professor of food science and technology in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in a press release. "We want to help figure out ways to return to the fresh taste of milk that our grandparents experienced when it came straight from the dairy."

For several decades, the researchers observed a decline in milk consumption. The researchers attribute this decline to taste-altering properties of the lights used in the display cases for the milk. Fluorescent lights are known to oxidize riboflavin, one of the nutrients found in milk. The oxidation process could not only alter the taste of the milk, but also lessen its nutritional value. On the other hand, milk exposed to new LED lights did not alter much of the taste and nutritional value of the milk, leaving a more satisfactory and original taste.

The researchers noted that the kind of lightings used in display cases is not the only factor that can affect the taste of the milk. The kind of packaging used could also play a crucial role in the overall taste of the milk. The researchers observed that milk stores in the traditional translucent plastic jugs can oxidize a milk expose to fluorescent light in as little as two hours.

With their findings, the researchers recommend the use of opaque light-blocking materials in the packaging of milk. Additionally, changing the lights in the display case with LED could be of great help in preserving the original and satisfactory taste of milk.

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