Dec 7, 2016: Virginia Tech researchers have found that LED lights installed in milk display cases not only reduce energy bills, but also help milk taste better.
When exposed to certain light, the flavor profile of milk changes. Fresh milk from the dairy tastes sweet, but otherwise they taste like stale milk. Virginia Tech researchers found that LED lights can reduce such negative profiles, however, work needs to be done in packaging as well to ensure that the taste of milk is good and fresh.
Professor Susan Duncan, a professor of food science and technology in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said, “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.”
It is found that milk consumption has been decreasing for several decades, and Duncan said that the traditional lighting used in retail display cases may change the taste of milk, and hence the consumption of milk is declining.
Riboflavin, a nutrient in milk oxidizes when exposed to fluorescent lights. This not only causes the taste of milk to change, but also reduce the nutritional value of milk. Duncan’s tests show that opague milk packaging that protects riboflavin and other nutrients from lighting keeps the milk fresh and sweet. Duncan’s study showed the LED lights protect the fresh taste of milk.
The study shows that when light-blocking pigments in HDPE or plastic PET containers are used, the flavor does not change and the milk tasted fresh.
“The research that is being done around this new lighting gives us momentum to explore other ways that we can preserve the natural taste of milk,” Duncan said.