Few studies have addressed the effects of package material in the absence of light on contributions to fluid milk flavor. The objective of this study was to compare the sensory and chemical properties of fluid milk packaged in paperboard cartons, low-density polyethylene, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), and glass. Pasteurized (high temperature short time, 77°C for 25 s) skim and whole milk were filled (280 mL ± 10 mL) into paperboard cartons, low-density polyethylene, HDPE, PET, LLDPE, and glass (control). Milks were stored at 4°C in the dark and sampled at d 0, 5, 10, and 15. Descriptive analysis was applied to document sensory profiles at each time point, and volatile compounds were extracted and identified by solid-phase microextraction with gas chromatography mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-olfactometry. Tetrad tests with consumers were conducted at d 10. Both skim and whole milks packaged in cartons had noticeable paperboard flavor by d 5 and higher levels of hexanal than skim and whole milks in other package types at d 5. Skim milks packaged in paperboard cartons and LLDPE had distinct refrigerator/stale flavor compared with milks in the other package types, concurrent with increased levels of refrigerator/package-related compounds including styrene, acetophenone and 2-ethyl-1-hexanol. Milks packaged in glass, PET and HDPE were not distinguished by consumers at d 10 post-processing. Package type influences fluid milk flavor, and these effects are greater in skim milk compared with whole milk. Paperboard cartons do not preserve milk freshness, as well as PET, HDPE, or glass, due to flavor migration and scalping. Glass remains an ideal barrier to preserve fluid milk flavor, but in the absence of light, HDPE and PET provide additional benefits while also maintaining fluid milk flavor.
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