Packaged in easy-to-grip cartons with vibrant graphics featuring popular Nickelodeon cartoon characters, the product, Shake 'n Sip, is designed as an appealing product to encourage children to drink more milk.
ESE Dairies, a subsidiary of East Side Entrees and a marketer of healthy beverages to schools nationwide, felt that schools needed an innovative solution to expand milk accessibility and consumption and attract children to drink more milk. In November 2002, ESE Dairies adopted Tetra Pak's aseptic packaging and processing technology to develop shelf-stable Shake 'n Sip milks and milkshakes.
"We were drawn to aseptic technology because it allows schools to increase milk consumption on the occasions when refrigeration isn't an option, like field trips, summer and after-school programs, and before and after holiday breaks," said East Side Entrees chief executive Gary Davis. "Since Tetra Pak is the leader in aseptic solutions, working with the company was a natural fit."
Aseptic processing and packaging allows sensitive liquid foods to stay safe and fresh and gently protects the natural flavour and nutritional content of beverages, giving consumers more quality and better taste. Since the cartons can be stored un-chilled for months, schools benefit from improved food safety due to less spoilage and waste.
Space-efficient aseptic packaging also means schools save valuable refrigerated storage space and require fewer deliveries and less labour, resulting in cost savings. Most important, schools can offer the shelf-stable milks and milkshakes at times when refrigeration isn't available.
"Here is an example of how aseptic packaging technology is helping schools increase their supply of healthy beverage options," said Chris Fabbri, foodservice director of the Swiss-based Tetra Pak group. "It is important to consider how aseptic technology can help supplement traditional beverage distribution of appealing, nutritious drinks. To package milk in aseptic cartons, no additives or preservatives are necessary to maintain its freshness and flavour and cartons can be kept unrefrigerated for periods of up to one year."
The milks are available in white, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, while the milkshakes come in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavours. They are made with one per cent low-fat milk, and are fortified with USDA-supplied non-fat dry milk so that each serving provides 25 per cent more calcium and 25 per cent more protein than regular low-fat milk.
According to the Aseptic Packaging Council (APC), the aseptic process combines the best attributes of paper, plastic, and aluminium. The multi-layer, high-performance aseptic package is designed to lock out light and air, seal in nutrients and flavour and allows its contents to remain un-refrigerated for months.
The APC says that the aseptic process, which goes hand-in-hand with the packaging, is a major advance over traditional canning techniques; so much so that it has been hailed as "the most significant food science innovation of the last 50 years" by the Institute of Food Technologists. It is also environmentally friendly: it requires less material and uses far less energy to manufacture, fill, ship, and store than virtually any other comparable package on the market.