Nitrogen Flushing For Longer Canned Powdered Milk Shelf Life - Levapack

Nitrogen Flushing For Longer Canned Powdered Milk Shelf Life

Milk powders are versatile substances that are domestically used for a variety of drinks and smoothies. A popular variant is a protein powder, which bodybuilders often use to gain muscle weight. As of today, these powders have become an indispensable part of everyone’s lives. The market trends are proof. The market for milk powder will be $30 billion in 2021. With the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for 2021-27 being 7.03%, the market trends seem to go in a positive direction. The expectation for the global milk powder market for 2027 is a whopping $45.1 billion. With a growth rate of 6.33%, industries are looking towards milk powder and related business ideas as opportunities. 

A plethora of questions linger around the minds about the expiry period of these indispensable powders. As people realize the difference between quality date (best by date) and use by dates, there have been discrepancies over its quality period.

We hope milk business people thoroughly familiarize themselves with our guidelines and truly enhance their profits through the correct operations. The purpose of this blog article is to understand the nits and grits of canned powdered milk shelf life, its quality period, the packaging standards to follow, and how nitrogen can improve the success of milk powder firms by utilizing a high-quality nitrogen flushing and sealing machine.

Shelf Life Of Powdered Milk 

Shelf Life Of Powdered Milk
Source: Levapack

The lifespan of a product is generally affected by several environmental factors, which are indirectly related to storage requirements. The primary conditions that manipulate the acceptable usage period are product traits. While most wet dairy products have similar storage requirements due to similar characteristics, dry dairy ingredients have a new set of principles to follow. As a result, storage conditions and packaging are imperative factors to consider when manufacturing milk powder.

Bulk ordering and packaging demand the following requirements for shipping and transportation. Can packaging machine applications extend from solids to pastes to spice and nutritional powders as well. Different dairy products have varying lifespans. For example, nonfat dry milk powder shelf life ranges from 12-13 months. When talking about generic situations, dairy products stored under prescribed conditions are less susceptible to color change, mold formation, and free flow. 

Dairy Product Shelf Life
Lactose-based 12 months
Skimmed Milk Powders 12 to 18 months
Dry Sweet Whey 6 to 12 months
Protein Powders (Concentrated 34%) 12 months
Protein Powders (Concentrated 80%) 12 months
Whey Protein Isolate 12 months

On a general note, ensure that the storage conditions have a temperature no higher than 25 degrees and an overall humidity of 60-65%.

The ‘best by date’ often confuses a handful of users to be the expiry date; this has sprouted the question: “When does the shelf life of powdered milk end?”. It is essential to understand that these dry milk storage life lasts a little longer than the dates mentioned on the label. 

The FDA has clearly defined “best by” as those dates on and before which the product is perfect for usage. “Sell by” dates refer to those dates the product can live longer on the shelf when sold. Using past the date mentioned is rarely an extremely hazardous choice. Milk powders are essentially the dry form of the liquid version, and their primary selling point is the extended shelf life. Their dry state makes them less susceptible to expiry when storage is taken care of. The above mentioned table serves as a rudimentary guide to milk powder packaging. The lesser the exposure to moisture, and hikes in temperature, bacteria, and air, the less prone it is to expiry. 

Since it’s now clear that protein powders can last a while longer than prescribed dates without turning rancid, it is essential to know the proper storage techniques behind them. While the entire powder may not go wrong overnight, certain elements can get affected through exposure. Canned powdered milk shelf life and that of protein powders have a fatty component that, when improperly stored, can go wrong. Look for the following qualities to know if it is past its shelf life:

  • Discoloration: Browning up of the powder is the first sign of the protein powder’s end of practical usage. This happens due to the Maillard reaction between protein substituents and lactose components at higher temperatures. While in certain products this might be desirable, discoloration of the product also indicates poor quality of storage. The combined effect of this reaction is a massive reduction in antioxidant contents. The influencing factors are as follows:
  • Protein structure and composition
  • Manufacturing techniques
  • Storage and processing conditions
  • pH levels
  • Moisture content
  • Presence of air
  • Odd Flavor: Dairy is characterized by neutral flavors that turn odd when stored in unprescribed environmental conditions. Product solubility is responsible for flavor mishaps; it is interesting to know that artificial product methods speed up this process.
  • Hardening: Hardening takes place in a storage condition higher than 85%. Product characteristics heavily influence this data. These percentages vary with types of packaging cans used.
  • Nutrition: When exceeding the shelf life for dry dairy products, there will be a heavy loss in nutritional conditions. Amino acid lysine, an integral part of most milk and protein powders, is lost when stored above 25 degrees celsius with high moisture.
  • Clumping up of powder: Clumping up occurs due to mold growth facilitated by high moisture percentages. The effect is much higher in lactose-based dairy products.

How Does Packaging Ensures Shelf Life

Protein And Milk Powder
Source: Unsplash

Appropriate packaging is a prerequisite for longer shelf life, especially in dry dairy products and ingredients. A thorough reading of product traits and characteristics is imperative to understanding the dairy item, and this information may vary among manufacturers. Their packaging plays a vital role in preserving the nutritional value of its contents and the physical state of consumption. The following guidelines are fundamental to every canned powdered milk shelf life:

  • Moisture-resistant packaging: Packaging materials that prevent moisture absorption and retention are primary for packing any dairy product. Ensure water activity stays below 0.24 to store them without discoloration appropriately.
  • Kraft bag & LDPE: Dairy institutions worldwide have recommended Kraft bags to store protein powders and milk powders, especially those graded with a multi-wall of 3 or 4 plies. Combine it with a low-density polyethylene (LDPE) packaging liner with a thickness of 3 or 4 millimeters to promise excellent storage. 
  • Modified Atmosphere Packaging: Nitrogen is a significant player in milk powder packaging. Research studies have shown the favorable effects of nitrogen when it comes to lengthening the shelf life of dairy products. Manufacturers use automatic can sealing machines that mix nitrogen with other gasses.
  • Temperature requirements: Ensure the temperature is well-controlled and does not exceed 25%. Any fluctuations in temperature can serve as a medium for the Maillard reaction. Extreme humid spots must be avoided at all costs. Humidity percentages above 65% can contaminate the powder and render them useless for consumption.
  • Can specifications: Protein powder comes in packaging made with kraft paper and LDPE liners. Their design must cater to protection against light and bacteria.

How Does Nitrogen Extend Shelf Life

Nitrogen In Extending Shelf Life
Source: Levapack

Nitrogen is an integral part of packing any food content. When flushed into dairy packaging, it can enhance the shelf life to a substantial amount. Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) relies on nitrogen as a primary gas for preservation without dramatic changes in the product. Today, nitrogen supply is indispensable for industries ranging from food & beverage, chemical, electronics, aerospace, automobile, plastics, metal fabrication, and rubber manufacturing. 

These glasses extend product lifespan through protection against bacteria by reducing product waste by displacing oxygen molecules. The mold and mildew growth rates reduce considerably and ensure every corner of the package is covered. MAP plays an all-purpose role in milk powder industries and businesses. In fact, it is quite a common practice to flush nitrogen for food preservation. Apart from MAP, one also needs to consider the following aspects of a food product:

  • Natural lifespan
  • Gas mixture used
  • Packaging specifications
  • Storage environment

Optimal nitrogen concentration varies per industry, and trial-and-error is probably the only way to get by in these circumstances.

What Is Modified Atmosphere Packaging?

Modified Atmosphere Packaging is a well-known packaging technique that requires extreme amounts of nitrogen for preservation while keeping oxygen at lower concentrations. MAP is often used for milk product packaging; the percentages show more significant variation among products. The role of nitrogen is to effectively reduce the chances of oxidation, which is the primary cause of moisture build-up and damage. Most customized can packaging machine manufacturers promote the usage of MAP standards.

MAP is carried out by flushing nitrogen into the packaging material or using notable films. There are two types of MAP:

  • Active MAP: Industries that rely on food-grade nitrogen due to its relative inexpensiveness and easy availability. MAP displaces oxygen molecules by flushing the package with 99% pure nitrogen. Active MAP is generally used for dairy products and other products like meat and fish whose respiration is high. It is also used for canned packaging and baggage. 
  • Passive MAP: When MAP relies on the natural perspiration of gas displacement, then it is categorized as passive MAP. Fruits and vegetables use passive MAP techniques to preserve the nutritional quantity of the product through permeable and porous films. Amino acid lysine, an integral part of most milk and protein powders, is lost when stored above 25 degrees celsius with high moisture

Nitrogen Gas Flushing

Nitrogen is used for its non-reactive and inert properties that provide resistance to microbes while retaining nutritional quality. It is a dry gas that is excellent for moisture prevention and maintaining conformity. The displacement is facilitated by its heavier molecular weight than oxygen. It prevents the following:

  • Discoloration
  • Spoilage
  • Texture manipulations
  • Odd flavors

Nitrogen Milk Powder Packing Machine

milk powder canning
Source: Levapack

Automatic can filling machines manufacturers are used for milk and protein powder packaging and subsequently enhancing the shelf life of the contents. Milk powders and protein powders require intense evaporation and condensation, creating the dried form of dairy. Thus, these machines are manufactured with complete stainless steel materials. Apart from this need, food hygiene also requires packaging machines to be made of this material. 

Dairy Canning Line Industries

A milk powder filling line is indispensable for businesses specializing in milk and protein powder substances. These nutritional powders must not only be focused on quality and optimal nutritional benefits but also be user-friendly in extending their shelf life. Due to their sensitivity to environmental conditions, various sugars and refined salts can be extremely difficult to handle. 

Nitrogen milk powder packaging machines are integral in elongating the product’s usable life and building a quality brand name. Our machines revolve around proving high-end performance to increase prospects in the long run. We offer customization services to make the products scream uniqueness and specialty. 

Packaging is essentially divided into two kinds- canned packaging and bagged. The former is more popular and preferred by final consumers due to its protection capabilities and sealing. This type of packaging is not only limited to enhancing canned powdered milk shelf life but also other powdered forms like protein, cocoa, chicken, starch, and many more. Being the most preferred choice, automatic can-filling machines’ design revolves around customer satisfaction and building value for the business. Automatic can filling machines are of two types:

  • Vacuum-feeding power filling machines: These machines are designed to retain nutritional qualities and the new element of milk powder. The working of these machines revolves around extreme compressions and creating a vacuum by pulling out air. This ensures preservation and lack of moisture contact with the contents.
  • Screw-feeding powder filling machines: Being one of the most popular machines in the world of powder filling manufacturing, screw-feeding powder filling machines enable the flow of the material and flexibility for user adjustment. They are excellent service providers and are much preferred globally.

The working of these machines is facilitated through 2 nozzles responsible for filling, while the other functions as a precision check. The first nozzle is wider due to its primary function of filling the cans with these powders. They are all made of stainless steel, a requirement of hygiene standards, and they prevent early spoilage and contamination. The sealing process follows after filling the cans. The top of the can’s cap is pressed with a metal sealing component with extreme pressures to ensure the environment is air-tight until opened. 

One can also add business branding and logo on the seal through a colorless plastic cap. The can labeling machines take the cake in such operations. We make sure all the brands stand out and appropriately represent your trademark. Once that is taken care of, the product is well-groomed to show itself in the market and attract customers. This process ensures proper security and contamination-free guarantees through vacuum and nitrogen flushing. 

Components of Milk Powder Can Packing Line

milk powder can filling and packaging line
Source: Levapack

The components in nitrogen flushing machines are as follows:

  • De-palletizer
  • Unscrambler
  • Degausser
  • Sterilization pathway
  • Vacuum sealer
  • Can cleaning compartment
  • Laser printer
  • The plastic colorless cap logo
  • Palletizer

The Working Principle of Automatic Nitrogen Milk Powder Packing Line

The overall working procedure concerns the displacement of nitrogen flushing and filling machines that facilitate the screws’ operations. The auger component provides excellent displacement of product through a pathway tunnel. The powder contents finally reach the tank through a funnel-shaped object. The regulation of this process is taken care of by electromagnetic and photoelectric units. Their usage is vast and has recently reached global levels. Thus, it becomes imperative to understand how powdered filling and sealing machines work

The procedure is as follows:

  1. The cans are emptied in the unscrambling machine, where the conveyor belts bring them to the next compartment.
  2. Can cleaning part ensures the dust particles are absent and there is no potential contamination.
  3. The cans enter the sterilization unit and make sure they are free of UV and other contaminations and ensure they are completely sterilized.
  4. The nitrogen flushing operates through a vacuum and adheres to canning specifications made by the client. High-purity nitrogen is flushed into the can through an automatic vacuum nitrogen filling machine.
  5. Several reliable measuring tools are used to regulate oxygen levels. The requirement is to achieve less than 2% oxygen in the contents. A volumetric filling machine makes sure appropriate measuring tools are implemented for this regulated maintenance. 
  6. The cans are then given for vacuumed pressure sealing, where the machines automatically pressurize and seal the can with no residue or wastage. All this process is made automatic, meaning that the nitrogen flushing and vacuuming process is taken care of by the machine’s autonomy without the need for human intervention.
  7. Cleansing the can follows after sealing. The cover is put on and ready for market participation. 

A minimal amount of oxygen ensures the shelf life will reach up to 3 years. All the other factors, like product specifications and storage, are well-considered. As long as the oxygen percentage is below 1-2% with a high nitrogen concentration, moisture intake will dramatically decrease. This is beneficial for global online services, where these products need to undergo extended commutes and storage periods. 

Levapack is one of the most reputed milk powder and protein powder filling machine manufacturers that can reliably impart clients’ specifications. With the ability to pack 30 cans per minute, the work is completed in no time. The machines are designed for optimal user-friendliness and compatible quality control, improving the shelf life of esteemed nutritional powders and increasing packaging efficiency. 


Milk powder businesses and manufacturers are crucial in providing quality to their target consumers. These supplements are essential to everyone’s diet and provide protein-rich content derived from plant and animal products. They are whole foods, and their market stance states their importance in daily life. The shelf life, however, is a matter of great concern. Improper packaging and storage conditions are the recipe for destroying the nutritional value of the content. Our dry dairy product packaging, filling, flushing, and sealing machines can ensure maximum helpful life and reliable packaging efficiency. 

The client is always in power regarding the required specifications of our services. We understand that our standard machines and operations may not cater to all businesses, which is precisely why we promote customization opportunities for esteemed clients. There is always freedom of choice, and professional advice is always at the doorstep. Levapack’s mission and vision revolve around closely working and serving clients to ensure brand success. Contact us to get a quote today!

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