This is the reason why most milk in the world are kept at a room temperature.

If you happen to visit a grocery store in North America, you’re more likely going to order milk that’s kept in a refrigerator; whereas if you happen to be on the other side of the Atlantic, say Europe, you’re more likely going to order your milk unrefrigerated. Milk is perishable wherever you are, so how on Earth does one part of it keep theirs lukewarm while the other keeps their chilled.


Related media: What Is Pasteurized Milk?


Heat Up The Milk

The answer to all this comes down to the way milk is processed for consumption. Milk is usually pasteurized — that’s the chemical process of heating it to a temperature high enough to kill off pathogens. Back in the 1920s, there was a modern development of pasteurizing milk continuously, instead of pasteurizing them individually. This was quite cheaper and a more efficient process of pasteurizing milk for mass consumption.

The process of pasteurization used in the United States and Canada is High-Temperature Short-Time (HTST) pasteurization. However, back in the 1960s, the packaging company Tetra-Pak came up with a modern milk packaging technique known as Ultra-High-Temperature or Ultra-Heat-Treated (UHT) pasteurization.

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus | Pasteurized milk at room temperature. 

This new process tends to heat the milk to a higher temperature than HTST. This ensures that the milk stays fresh for about three months without refrigeration — that’s way beyond the seven-to-ten refrigerated days of the HTST process can offer. This is what most countries use, the reason why you won’t find milk out on the shelves.


Coolin’ The Milky Way!

Now, think about this: who does not milk you need not to refrigerate and won’t expire for months? Only the Yankees! Right, Americans are found of refrigerating almost any food stuff they consume. That’s just a cultural thing with Americans, no biggie. An Italian company named Parmalat back in the early 1990s even tried to sell UHT milk on the American market, but failed spectacularly. 

Here’s the catch: high temperatures make UHT milk taste like it’s been “cooked” than HTST milk. (Yuck!) Americans tend to refrigerate a lot of things other countries don’t — bread, butter, and even eggs. The United States put more ice in their beverages and even drink beer and white wine with ice cubes. So it is no a wonder if they wanted the same thing for their milk as well.


A Milky Awakening Change

Image: Ziggy 1 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Will there ever be a change with the preference of Americans? “Yes we can,” they’ll say, but who knows. Maybe the rising demand for plant-based milks like soy milk and almond milk on the shelves, Americans might get comfortable with consuming milk off the shelves. Packaging companies like Horizon Organic and Fairlife have now been serving milks sold at room-temperature on American grocery store today. The change is already here.


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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Fri, Apr 03, 2020.

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