Is Your Child Getting the Best Out of Fresh Milk?
All healthy babies are born with three types of immunity – innate, passive and adaptive.
Innate immunity is a natural form of immunity that offers general protection; while passive immunity refers to “borrowed” resistance from other sources that only lasts for a short time. For instance, a mother’s breast milk contains antibodies that can provide a baby with temporary immunity to viruses she has been exposed.
This helps protect the baby against similar infections during early years of childhood. Adaptive or active immunity on the other hand, is one that develops throughout one’s lifetime. It involves lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell fundamentally important to the immune system, which develops complex ways to fight off viruses we are exposed to or immunized against through vaccinations.
Although pediatricians have attributed colds, bouts of flu and ear infections per year to the priming of a child’s adaptive immunity, there are still some healthy habits that can be cultivated to help boost your child’s adaptive immunity. Encouraging a higher or daily consumption of milk for example, introduces powerful nutrients and other lesser-known ones like Vitamin A and zinc that can aid in combating the viruses young children are usually susceptible to as well as strengthening an existing adaptive immunity. But one thing must be clear – the milk needs to be fresh.
Maintaining the freshness of fruit and vegetables is straightforward and normally just involves
chilling. However, it takes more than that for when it comes to milk. Despite the fact that milk is pasteurized, it is still a delicate fresh produce. In addition, there are little or no preservatives added to artificially extend its lifespan. So once a carton of milk is opened, it is immediately exposed to oxidation, loses quality and begins to lose its freshness rapidly. According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), it is recommended that milk when opened should be consumed within two to three days1. If left any longer when open, the milk this runs the risk of becoming infested with unhealthy bacteria. Since everyone’s immune system is different from another, some children may experience mild stomach cramps, while others severe food poisoning.
In some unfortunate cases, the consumption of milk that is not fresh may even trigger illnesses such as soaring fevers, blood in stool, chronic diarrhoea and even prolong vomiting that can lead to dehydration. It is therefore advisable for all children (and even adults) to consume milk within three days, as it is during this period that milk stays its freshest after its seal has been broken; and also to ensure that the milk is stored properly both before and after it has been opened.
Preserving The Cold Chain – Keep It Chilled From Supermarket to Home
The proper storage of milk starts from the time you pick it up from the supermarket and not when you put it into your refrigerator. This helps in preserving the cold chain from the time the milk is pasteurized, transported via cold cargo containers and stocked in the supermarkets. Any time this cold chain is broken, the freshness of milk is compromised and it becomes susceptible to oxidisation.
Here are some simple steps you can take to help preserve the cold chain of your milk:
• Pick up milk and other dairy products last so they don’t warm up while you
are busy shopping for other items
• Check that it is not past the expiration date
• Refrigerate milk immediately upon reaching home
• Store it between temperatures 2°C and 4°C
Other Useful Milk Storage Tips
• Keep milk toward the back of the refrigerator as frequent opening of the refrigerator affects the
temperature of products near the door
• Keep milk in its original carton, its lid tight and away from strong-smelling foods to reduce the
risk of cross-contamination of other food in the fridge
• Pour whatever milk you need and return the carton to the refrigerator immediately (room or
warm temperatures encourage the growth and introduction of different types of bacteria) to
safeguard its nutritional value
• Never return unused milk to the original container; it will increase the chances of contamination
from outside organisms exponentially
• If milk has been has been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, throw it out – whether
it smells stale or not
Consuming Milk Within 3 Days
In addition to storing milk properly, milk should be consumed within two to three days of
opening as stated by AVA. So what’s the use of an expiration date?
Expiration dates on food products only play a partial role on food safety. These dates tend to be
misinterpreted as ‘how long you can keep your food for even when they have been opened’.
However, an expiration date is only an indication of how long an unopened product will retain its
freshness and quality. Whereas once a product packaging has been unsealed, the expiration date no
longer applies. In the case of fresh milk, three days is the mark where it begins to deteriorate quickly and potentially lose its freshness and full nutritional benefits.
With increasingly small family nuclei and hectic schedules, having to finish up a carton milk in
such a short period of time can be challenging. The best and possibly the most economical solution
would be to get two 1-litre cartons of fresh milk as opposed to one 2-litre bottle. This makes it more
manageable to finish one carton of milk in three days, allows you consume the second carton at its
freshest and also saves you the hassle of returning to the supermarket too frequently.
Reduce Milk Wastage With Fun Recipes For The Family
If you’re still unable to consume all the milk within three days, create some simple milkinspired
snacks while spending time with the children with these fun recipes!