Discover the Ideal Temperatures and Duration for Dairy Refrigeration

Various dairy products

What are dairy products

Dairy products are foods processed from the milk of cows or other mammals, such as sheep and goat milk. They are an integral part of human diets due to their rich nutritional value, including proteins, calcium, and vitamin D. These products encompass various types of milk and extend to a range of other products derived or processed from milk. The main categories include:

  1. Fresh Milk and Dairy Beverages: This category includes full-fat, skimmed, low-fat, and flavored milks. They are primary sources of calcium, vitamin D, and B12.
  2. Fermented Dairy Products: Examples are yogurt, Greek yogurt, and kefir. Yogurt, fermented with bacteria, is known for its probiotic qualities, aiding digestion and gut health.
  3. Cheese: There’s a wide variety of cheeses, including hard cheeses like Parmesan, soft ones like Brie, and fermented varieties. Cheese is a versatile ingredient in many cuisines.
  4. Cream Products: These include fresh cream and butter, typically obtained by separating cream from milk. Butter, made by churning cream, is widely used in cooking and baking, adding richness and flavor to dishes.
  5. Milk Powder: Dried milk turned into powder, available in full-fat and non-fat varieties.
  6. Ice Cream and Frozen Dairy Products: Based on cream or milk powder, these frozen desserts are loved for their sweet and refreshing taste.
  7. Curd and Cheese Products: Such as Italian Ricotta and Indian Paneer, made by coagulating milk proteins.

Is dairy refrigeration necessary?

Milk and yogurt are also dairy products. Why can some be stored at room temperature while others must be refrigerated? Whether dairy products are stored at low temperature or at room temperature is determined by the production process.

Milk: It’s related to sterilization and packaging methods

The reason why milk requires different storage methods is determined by the different sterilization methods and packaging methods. Milk on the market is mainly divided into room temperature milk and fresh milk.

Fresh milk refers to pasteurized milk, which is sterilized at a low temperature of 72°C to 85°C, which can maximize the nutritional value of milk while killing harmful bacteria. However, the shelf life is only 3 to 7 days and requires low-temperature transportation and storage.

Because pasteurization cannot effectively kill all harmful microorganisms, fresh milk is not completely sterile. If it is not refrigerated at about 4°C, microorganisms will grow exponentially and the shelf life will be greatly shortened.

Room-temperature milk is also called full-fat sterilized milk. During production, the milk is instantly heated to 135°C to 150°C for 2 to 6 seconds, which can kill almost all bacteria. The shelf life is more than 6 months and can be stored at room temperature.

Yogurt: related to lactic acid bacteria activity

Yogurt is also divided into low-temperature yogurt and normal-temperature yogurt due to different sterilization methods.

Low-temperature yogurt is obtained by adding lactic acid bacteria to sterilized milk for fermentation. The shelf life is generally about 21 days. Lactic acid bacteria are viable under cold chain conditions of 0°C to 4°C, but their reproduction rate is slow. If left at room temperature for a long time, lactobacilli will grow and reproduce actively, and will die in large numbers due to the increase in acidity and consumption of sugar, resulting in a sour taste and a reduction in the number of live lactobacilli.

Room-temperature yogurt is sterilized at high temperature after lactic acid bacteria fermentation is completed. The shelf life can be up to 3 to 6 months. The quality of high-temperature sterilized yogurt is relatively stable and is suitable for people who do not have refrigeration conditions and are afraid of cold.

Temperature is one of the main factors that affects the quality and safety of dairy products. Too high or too low temperatures can cause changes in the texture, flavor, color, and nutritional value of milk products. Moreover, temperature can influence the growth of harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, that can cause foodborne illnesses. Therefore, it is important to store dairy products at the right temperature to prevent spoilage and contamination.

Refrigeration as a preservation method is instrumental in maintaining the sensory and quality attributes of many foods. By keeping milk products chilled, refrigeration helps preserve their natural taste, texture, color, and nutritional value. It slows down the degradation of essential nutrients such as vitamins and proteins over time, ensuring the products remain fresh and retain their natural flavors for a longer period.

Moreover, refrigeration slows down the growth of harmful bacteria, reducing the risk of contamination from pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli, thereby preventing foodborne illnesses. It also enables efficient storage of dairy products, extending their shelf life. This allows consumers to buy in bulk and store for extended periods, offering both economic and convenience benefits.

In summary, refrigeration is a key factor in ensuring that milk products are stored safely, retaining their quality, freshness, and nutritional benefits, and preventing health risks associated with spoilage and bacterial growth.

Dairy Refrigeration In A Large Cold Storage

How to store different dairy products

Different dairy products require different storage methods and have varying shelf lives. To ensure your milk products last as long as possible, it is important to store them properly.

Keep milk in its original container, securely closed, to extend its freshness beyond the sell-by date—often up to seven days when stored properly. Refrigerating milk promptly maintains its quality and safety.

To prevent drying and mold, store cheese in airtight containers or securely wrapped in plastic. Hard cheeses have a cold room life of up to six months, whereas soft cheeses can remain fresh for about two weeks.

Store yogurt in its original packaging, tightly closed, to enjoy up to two weeks post-sell-by date. Proper refrigeration is key to maintaining its flavor and nutritional benefits.

Butter should remain in its wrapper or in a covered dish to avoid exposure to air, which can lead to oxidation and spoilage. It can be refrigerated for up to three months or frozen for a year. Cream, similarly, should be kept tightly sealed in its original container, lasting up to 10 days past its sell-by date with correct refrigeration.

Dairy Product Cold Room (2°C to 5°C) Freezer (0°C)
Butter 1-2 months 6-9 months
Buttermilk 2 weeks
Cottage Cheese 1 week 3 months
Cream Cheese 2 weeks
Cream (Light, Heavy, Half-and-Half) 3-4 days 1-4 months
Eggnog (Commercial) 3-5 days 6 months
Margarine 4-5 months
Condensed, Evaporated, and Dry Milk 8-20 days
Milk 8-20 days 3 months
Ice Cream and Sherbet 2 months
Hard Natural Cheese (e.g., Cheddar, Swiss) 3-6 months 6 months
Processed Cheese 3-4 weeks 6-8 months
Soft Cheese (e.g., Brie) 1 week 6 months
Pudding 1-2 days
Snack Dips 1 week
Sour Cream 2 weeks
Non-Dairy Whipped Cream (Canned) 3 months
Real Whipped Cream (Canned) 3-4 weeks
Yogurt 2 weeks 1-2 months

Condensed, evaporated, and dry milk, often used in recipes, can be stored in the cold storage for 8-20 days. Ice cream and sherbet should ideally be consumed within 2 months of storage in the freezer to maintain their best quality. Hard natural cheeses, like cheddar and Swiss, have a longer cold room life of 3-6 months and can be frozen for up to 6 months.

milk products

How do you keep your dairy products stored safely?

  • Always store dairy products in a dedicated space, preferably in protective coverings to shield them from absorbing unwanted odors. A separate refrigerator or cold room, distinct from where vegetables or strongly scented items are kept, is ideal to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Keeping the storage area clean is non-negotiable. Milk products are sensitive and can be adversely affected by bacteria or molds present in unclean environments.
  • Implement a first-in, first-out (FIFO) policy for dairy products. This ensures that items are used in order of their purchase or delivery, minimizing the risk of spoilage and waste.
  • Avoid stocking up on milk products too far in advance. To ensure freshness, align deliveries closely with usage needs. Daily deliveries are optimal for businesses or households with high dairy consumption.

If you want to get the best cold room storage facility to store your dairy products, please contact us. We are experts in one-stop cold storage solutions. Our cold storage rooms are designed to keep your milk products in optimal condition. Our milk and dairy cold rooms will save you significant overhead costs. If you need a dairy cold storage warehouse, our engineers will work closely with you to provide you with a high-quality cold storage room.

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