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Question from Melissa

Hi Debra,

Thank you for your wonderful website. I have noticed that certain small grocery stores in our area tend to have a very heavy cleaner/deodorant smell. We popped into one this evening for a quick carton of milk, and when I got in the car I realized that the carton had the odor of the store – and the odor even transferred to my hand after I carried it to the car. Is it possible that the chemicals permeated the milk carton and contaminated the milk, or are paper milk cartons sealed well enough to prevent that?

Debra’s Answer

That’s a good question.

According to How A Milk Carton is Made , “Milk containers are made from paperboard coated with a waterproof plastic, generally polyethylene.

Polyethylene can block chemical gases—it is frequently recommended for wrapping mattresses, for example—however the thickness of the layer makes a difference. I’m thinking that the thickness of the coating on a milk carton is thinner than a sheet of plastic.

I can’t say for sure because I couldn’t find any tests on this. I don’t drink milk myself. When I did I purchased organic milk in glass bottles. That’s clearly the safest choice.

If you can taste the scent in the milk, don’t drink it. Since milk generally doesn’t taste like the surrounding environment, logic would tell me that the seal on the paper is both keeping milk in and keeping the environment out.

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