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,
- 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 paediatricians 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.
Why we must maintain the freshness of milk
Maintaining the freshness of fruit and vegetables is straightforward and normally just involves chilling. However, it takes more than that 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 days.
If left any longer than the AVA recommended two to three days, the milk runs the risk of becoming infested with unhealthy bacteria and, since everyone’s immune system is different symptoms of mild to acute food poisoning can occur, for example;
- Some children may experience mild stomach cramps, while others severe food poisoning.
- In some unfortunate cases illnesses such as soaring fevers, blood in stool, chronic diarrhoea and even prolong vomiting that can lead to dehydration.
It is therefore advisable that all children (and adults) consume milk within three days, as it is during this period that milk stays its freshest after its seal has been broken. We must also to ensure that the milk is stored properly both before and after it has been opened.
How to preserve the cold chain and maintain freshness of Milk
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
Useful Milk Storage Tips to Maintain freshness of Milk
- 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
Understanding the expiration date on milk packaging
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.
This article was written by Alexandria Grace Lee who is a freelance writer for a number of stories featured on Magnolia Milkspiration. The ‘Is Your Child Getting the Best Out of Fresh Milk?’ story is released by Social Metric Pte Ltd on behalf of F&N Foods Pte Ltd
Reference to AVA guidelines are via the link HERE
(Image credit : F&N) – F&N Magnolia has been a trusted nurturer for generations and continues to advocate drinking milk fresh from smaller packs so that it can be consumed at its freshest within three days (as recommended by AVA)