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What is Pantry Fresh™ or shelf-stable milk? 

​It's 100% Grade A milk from local dairies and does not require refrigeration until after the carton is opened. The extended shelf-life comes from two sources: the high-temperature pasteurization process which eliminates all bacteria, and sterile, air-tight cartons that keep the product fresh until opening. You can learn more about the process here:

What is the shelf-life of shelf-stable milk?

It has a shelf-life of 13 months after production. Once the carton is opened, it must be refrigerated, and we recommend it be consumed within 7-10 days.

Does shelf-stable milk taste different from chilled milk? Does this impact consumption?

We have conducted several studies in school districts across the country that show conversion was not an issue. In fact, students drank more of the milk in shelf stable cartons and sales increased. There is a slight difference in taste. However, most people will not notice it, especially in flavored milk.

Can Pantry Fresh™ milk, be taken in and out of the refrigerator multiple times, without spoilage?

As long as the Tetra Pak® Aseptic package has not been opened, you can move the milk carton in and out of the refrigerator without worry of spoilage. However, once the package has been opened, shelf-stable milk has the same shelf life as pasteurized milk and must be kept refrigerated. 

Is the nutritional value different from chilled dairy milk?

The nutritional value of shelf-stable milk, including protein, calcium, and Vitamin D, is no different than chilled options and meets all nutritional requirements.

Why isn’t shelf-stable milk common in the U.S.?

The U.S. has a chilled system in place for milk and other staples that has served us for many years. But the market is changing and there are many factors driving the need for longer shelf-life products, such as growing demands on transportation and distribution networks, a focus on sustainability, the need to reduce food waste, and unforeseen circumstances such as COVID-19 and weather events.

Are preservatives used to allow a long shelf-life?

No additives or preservatives are needed to prolong the shelf-life of Pantry Fresh™ milk. The ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment process, paired with the sterile packaging allows for long shelf-life.

Does shelf-stable packaging contain Bisphenol-A (BPA)?

Tetra Pak® Aseptic packaging is made up of six layers that include polyethylene, paper, and aluminum. These materials do not contain BPA. Polyethelene is a BPA-free plastic that shields the food from the aluminum lining, which helps protect the product from air and light, eliminating the need for preservatives or refrigeration.


Is shelf-stable milk more expensive than chilled milk?

The pricing decisions for milk products are made by processors and/or distributors. Cost savings and other benefits can be realized with less frequent delivery, room temperature storage, and less milk waste.

When I should refrigerate Pantry Fresh™ shelf-stable milk prior to consumption?

We recommend chilling the milk the day before consumption simply because most people prefer the temperature of chilled milk over room temperature milk.


Can kids take unopened milk with them for later consumption if they don’t drink it during lunch?

Yes. Shelf-stable milk remains safe without refrigeration when unopened. So, kids can take milk with them to consume later (after school programs, activities, sports, grab-and-go meals, weekly boxes being sent home, etc.). Shelf-stable milk cartons are also great for backpack programs and meal distribution programs.


Are Pantry Fresh™ shelf-stable milk packages recyclable?

Yes. Shelf-stable milk cartons are recyclable and can be thrown into the recycle bin. For more information, please contact The Carton Council.

Are shelf-stable cartons more sustainable than chilled, gable top cartons?

All Tetra Pak® cartons are recyclable and are primarily made from renewable resources. Shelf-stable milk allows you to transport and store without refrigeration, and its long shelf-life reduces milk spoilage and waste, all of which contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions.


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