The widespread adoption of pasteurization and refrigeration means we are now using the shelf life of two to three weeks for milk, but the Australian company Naturo just announced that it was more than 60 days old.
Allegedly, Naturo's technique does not include the heat treatment that comes with pasteurisation, and apparently "retains its natural color and taste like it's straight from the cow".
But there is a big caveat here – what we do not know is exactly how scientists at the company have pulled this off, presumably for confidentiality reasons.
Naturo CEO Jeff Hastings told Jennifer Nichols at ABC's process based on "a series of existing technologies".
"Pasteurisation is a fairly aggressive process – 72 degrees Celsius [162 degrees Fahrenheit] it is heated up, held for 15 seconds – and for homogenized milk it is then further roughly handled, if you like, through the process called homogenisation, "Hastings told ABC.
"We don't do those things."
According to Naturo, its milk has an advantage over long-life UHT milk too: matching the longevity but keeping the fresh milk taste as well.
We don't have Naturo's word for it though. The new milk treatment has been approved by government agency Dairy Food Safety Victoria, and meets the required standards for killing off pathogenic microorganisms.
"We've verified that the process that they've come up with that achieves that outcome," Andrew Wilson told ABC. "That is, it's the equivalent of better than pasteurisation."
The new process is apparently heat-free, but it can kill off more pathogens than pasteurization – including Bacillus cereus, which pasteurisation doesn't always remove. It also has useful enzymes and vitamins, including B2 and B12.
That makes milk healthier for us as well as giving it a longer life – which could help cut down on food waste, besides the other advantages.
Naturo previously developed a process based around air pressure that preserves avocados and stops turning them, it's new milk procedure along similar lines.
If the company is really getting milk to last for a minimum of 60 days in the fridge, it opens up a whole new range of markets for farmers, who will be able to export their milk flies further afield without the fear of going off . It also means slower, cheaper and more eco-friendly forms of transport can be used to distribute it.
The next step is to set up a pilot plant in Australia, capable of producing 10 million liters of milk a year.
"Part of what we want to do in the setting of our pilot factory is to ensure our farmers, the suppliers of milk, get a good return at the farm gate to give them sustainability," Hastings told ABC.