Food by VICE

New Study Shows You Can Make Milk Taste Better by Changing a Lightbulb

Researchers have figured out how to make your store-bought milk taste like it’s fresh from the dairy.

by Daisy Meager
Dec 7 2016, 2:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Mark Hillary

How many scientists does it take to change a lightbulb? Who knows.

And how many lightbulbs does it take scientists to change the taste of milk? One.

At least, that's according to a new study from Virginia Tech. Released yesterday and published in the Journal of Dairy Science, the research found that by replacing conventional fluorescent lights in grocery store dairy display cabinets with LEDs, the flavour profile of milk was improved.

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That means your shop-bought milk can taste like it's fresh from the dairy.

The researchers used consumer feedback and nutrient analysis to determine the effects that different lighting had on the taste of milk. Participants described milk which had been kept in shops under fluorescent lights as "cardboard," "stale," and "painty," but used less negative adjectives when describing milk that had been kept under LED lights.

The study results also showed that riboflavin, a nutrient found in milk, oxidised in as little as two hours when exposed to fluorescent light. Scientists found that this chemical reaction not only changes the milk's flavour profile, but also reduces its nutritional content.

Speaking in a press release, Susan Duncan, one of the study's co-authors and food science professor, said that trialling different lighting was just the start of making milk taste better.

She said: "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. More work still needs to be done on packaging to protect flavour profiles even further."

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Duncan added: "We want to help figure out ways to return to the fresh taste of milk that our grandparents experienced when it came straight from the dairy."

Who knows, maybe someday your milk will come wrapped in milk?