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Why Does Organic Milk Last So Long?


If you noticed on your most recent run to the grocery store that the expiration date on a jug of organic milk is longer than the expiration date on regular, conventional milk, then you may have some questions. Why would organic milk expire later if it’s quote-on-quote “fresher” or “healthier” than its conventional counterpart? Why does traditional milk expire so quickly? And most importantly, what is it about the way organic milk is made or treated that makes it last longer?

First, let’s talk about what it actually means for milk to be organic. Nowadays, there are so many varied camps of thinking when it comes to milk and what people (or experts) think is best. With more and more consumers opting for cow milk alternatives such as oat and nut milks — oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, walnut milk, etc. — it’s no wonder that milk sales have dropped more than $1 billion in the past year. Even with plant-based dairy alternatives taking off, some people prefer to stick to dairy milk. However, it’s totally reasonable you’d want to understand the differences between organic and regular milk.

So, what does it mean for milk to be organic? The term “organic” in milk means a farm does not use antibiotics or hormones on their cows. Farms that produce typical, non-organic milk may use antibiotics to treat or fight infections in their dairy cows. These farms may also dabble in using hormones to increase their cows’ milk production. With organic milk, you can rest assured that hormones and antibiotics are not being used on the cows that produced your milk.

Got burgeoning milk questions? We’ve got answers. Keep reading for a breakdown of organic milk: why it lasts so long, if it’s truly the healthier alternative, and so much more.

Why does organic milk last so long?

Source: iStock

Organic milk typically lasts longer than traditional milk, which you likely have noticed when checking out the differences in expiration dates. So, what is it about organic milk that allows it to last longer than the traditional stuff? It actually has nothing to do with the fact that the milk is organic. Say what?!

According to Scientific American, organic milk lasts longer thanks to the process of ultrahigh temperature (UHT) treatment. The ultrahigh temperature treatment is a process of preserving milk in which milk is heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit for two to four seconds. This process kills any bacteria lurking in the milk, which believe it or not, is actually the key difference in why organic milk takes longer to expire.