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Old 04-18-2007, 10:43 AM
ForumBot ForumBot is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Alabama
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Drinking from the carton causes milk to go bad faster?

I think I can chalk this one up to my paranoid neurotic mother wanting me to get a glass when I was a kid, but her justification for my not drinking out of the carton was this: most milk enzymes are broken down by your saliva, and when you drink out of the carton, you're getting some backwashed broken down milk back in the carton to ruin the rest. (Wow, that was a long sentence. Sorry.) Considering that I don't immediately spit out half the amount swishing around in my mouth, I'm going to call bunk, but I figured I might as well ask.

So? Anybody?
Old 04-18-2007, 10:59 AM
Szlater Szlater is offline
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Location: London, UK
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I don't know if the milk goes bad quicker, I've never tested it. But, if it does it's more likely that drinking out of the carton inoculates the milk (via contact with your lips, and maybe some backwash) with some of the ~800 different species of microbe found in the average human mouth. They will probably love the conditions in the milk, especially if it's kept out of the fridge for any length of time.

Last edited by Szlater; 04-18-2007 at 11:01 AM.
Old 04-18-2007, 11:09 AM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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I remember being advised against feeding baby right out of the baby food jar for this very reason (some people feed baby a bit out of the jar then put the jar back in the fridge for later). Once saliva is introduced into the 'common dish', breakdown of the food begins. Anecdotally this seems to hold true for baby food; it will 'separate' and become watery if you do this.
Old 04-18-2007, 11:10 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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This is a common urban legend, or, since it came from your mother, old wife's tale. You also see it in the variant that the last swallows of a bottle of coke that's being passed around is someone else's saliva.

In fact, the amount of saliva backwash is so small as to be negligible. Saliva is just not very good in breaking down large quantities of milk in the first place. All that you would get is a glop of saliva in a carton of milk. Unappetizing, perhaps, but harmless beyond that.

One odd caveat that may have caused some of the initial confusion. Note this report from Snopes:
Claim: Airport security screeners required a woman to drink her stored breast milk before allowing her to board a flight.


Ms. McGarry was made to taste from each bottle, but was not forced to down the entire contents. She offered to squirt some milk from each bottle onto her arm, and lick it off, but that offer was declined. (She was concerned her saliva would contaminate the expressed milk, making it unfit for the baby. Saliva contamination could ruin the contents of each bottle within a matter of hours.)
The problem there, however, is that breast milk is not pasteurized and it is the bacterial growth promoted by the saliva that is the contaminant, not a breakdown of the milk enzymes. I suppose if someone heard this and misunderstood the whole issue could be transferred to drinking cow's milk from the carton.

But more likely it's just another urban legend built around the need for sanitariness.
Old 04-18-2007, 11:17 AM
Szlater Szlater is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: London, UK
Posts: 2,450
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase
The problem there, however, is that breast milk is not pasteurized and it is the bacterial growth promoted by the saliva that is the contaminant
Bacterial growth promoted by the saliva??


Milk is a great growth medium, pasteurised or not.

Last edited by Szlater; 04-18-2007 at 11:18 AM.


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