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Milk on Ice: Antarctic Time Capsule Reveals Dairy's Timeless Qualities

World 01.04.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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A recent comparative study published in the Journal of Dairy Science® has unveiled fascinating insights into the enduring qualities of dairy products through an unexpected discovery whole milk powder preserved in Antarctic ice for over a century.
Milk on Ice: Antarctic Time Capsule Reveals Dairy's Timeless Qualities
Shedding light on the similarities between milk of the past and present, this remarkable finding offers a unique glimpse into the evolution of dairy production and its pivotal role in human nutrition.

In 1908, during Ernest Shackleton's historic British Antarctic Expedition, the ship Nimrod carried provisions, including 1,000 pounds of dried whole milk powder. Remarkably, a century later, a container of Defiance brand milk powder was discovered, frozen at Shackleton's base camp, providing researchers with an invaluable opportunity to compare it with modern counterparts.

Lead investigator Skelte G. Anema, DPhil, emphasized the significance of this discovery, noting its potential to deepen our understanding of early milk powder production methods and their parallels with contemporary practices. Despite technological advancements, the study revealed striking similarities in composition and properties between the century-old milk powder and modern spray-dried varieties.

Anema and his team conducted a comprehensive analysis, comparing various aspects of the Shackleton milk powder with modern samples. Surprisingly, they found minimal changes in major component composition, protein and fatty acid profiles, and mineral content over the years.

However, distinct differences, such as elevated levels of certain trace minerals and oxidation-related aroma compounds in the Shackleton samples, shed light on historical storage conditions and technological limitations of the time.

While acknowledging the superior quality of modern milk powders, the study underscores the enduring significance of dairy products as essential sources of protein and energy. Whether in the frozen landscapes of Antarctica or the bustling cities of today, dairy remains a cornerstone of human nutrition, fueling exploration and innovation across generations.

In essence, this Antarctic time capsule serves as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of dairy production, highlighting its timeless contribution to human sustenance and discovery.
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