The Colors of Milk Labels & What They Mean

Written by lisa musser | 13/05/2017
The Colors of Milk Labels & What They Mean
Milk comes in all varieties. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Milk is a source of calcium, vitamin D and protein that the body needs to nourish the muscles and cells. Many people drink different types of milk due to health restrictions such as high cholesterol, obesity and heart disease. The food industry labels the different types of milk by colour to make it easy to recognise. According to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, "One cup of milk provides 1/3 the recommended daily allowance of calcium and phosphorus." Milk supplies riboflavin and vitamin D which helps tissue development. The protein found in milk is one of the highest quality proteins offered by any other food source.

Red-Whole Milk

The Colors of Milk Labels & What They Mean
Whole milk, usually marked in red, is high in cholesterol and fat. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The red label and cap on a milk jug indicates that the milk is whole milk and not reduced or fat-free. Whole milk that is pasteurised and homogenised still retains the milk fat, but has been heated to destroy any naturally occurring bacteria that would make you sick. Red is used by several dairies so it is easily recognised as whole milk.

Blue-2% Milk

The Colors of Milk Labels & What They Mean
Almond milk is a milk alternative for cereals, cooking and drinking. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Two per cent milk is recognised by the blue cap and label. This is the type of milk that is recommended for use in school systems because it is lower in fat. This labelling means the milk contains less fat, but is not low fat. Depending on which dairy produces the milk, the cap colours may vary between light and dark blue. For example: Borden and Amish Country Farms have a light blue cap, while Dari Gold and Dean's are dark blue.

Green-1% Milk

The Colors of Milk Labels & What They Mean
Milk from soybeans contains the same levels of calcium and minerals as cow's milk but without the cholesterol. (Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

The green colour indicates the milk is one per cent or low fat. Amish Country Farms, Clover Organic, Farmer's Creamery and Albertson's brand milk have the green label, however, if you by your milk at Trader Joe's their label is pink.

Purple-Skim Milk

The Colors of Milk Labels & What They Mean
Cow's milk is sometimes infused with antibiotics and BGH, or bovine growth hormone. (David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Skim or Nonfat Milk has the purple cap and means that this type of milk contains little to no fat.

Brown-Chocolate Milk

The Colors of Milk Labels & What They Mean
Chocolate milk is favoured by kids all over America. Adults love it too. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Chocolate milk is made from either low fat or whole milk to which chocolate and sugar are added. In 2005, the New York City Department of Education began replacing whole milk with lower fat versions, and chose fat-free chocolate milk in place of regular chocolate milk. According to ABC News, the New York City state schools switched to low fat milk to decrease the student's overall fat and calorie intake.

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