Food & Feeding

Freeze Dried Breast Milk Services: Let’s Talk Safety with Dr. Luck

February 6, 2024

Author -

Melissa Iftimie

Freeze-dried breastmilk services are on the rise. We sat down with Dr. Luck, founder of Milkify, to talk about safety.

Freeze-dried breast milk is a new innovation in the world of feeding your baby. It’s great to have more options to get that done! But, when something is new, there’s going to be lots of questions. As you’d expect, the moms at Villie had lots of questions, especially about safety. So we talked to Dr. Berkley Luck, co-founder of Milkify to get the letdown…uh we mean lowdown… on freeze-dried milk.

What is Freeze-Dried Breast Milk? 

Freeze-dried breast milk is your breastmilk, but in a powder form. Think formula, but it’s your breastmilk. 

Learn more about freeze-dried breast milk.

What’s the Process Like to Transform Pumped Milk to Freeze-dried Milk?

At Milkify, the process works by a simple principle called sublimation, in which the water is removed from frozen breast milk by transitioning directly from a solid (ice) to a gas (water vapor). Simply put - it preserves the structure of molecules in the milk, which impacts the taste and nutritional quality of the milk. The result after freeze-drying is a fine breast milk powder, which has all of the components of the breast milk without the water. This process is very different from standard "dehydrating" techniques, which use high temperatures to remove water, thereby damaging the nutritional properties of the milk.

Why is Freeze-Dried Milk so Cool?

It gives you more options to feed your baby breastmilk. Here’s how:

  • At Milkify, our process extends your breast milk’s expiration date by 3 years.
  • The process removes water, but keeps all the key nutrients.
  • You don’t have to worry about freezer space, or power outages.
  • You can move or travel without leaving your milk behind.
  • It significantly improves the taste of high lipase milk.
  • It’s easy to use, when you’re ready to make that bottle.

What Should I Look For In a Breast Milk Freeze-Drying Service?

This is my favorite question, because not all freeze-drying services are the same. In fact, there is no regulation for freeze-drying breastmilk! That means for us US-based moms, quality control and operational standards are not defined. You’ve already put in immense effort to save your milk so you don’t want to mess around. What we are doing at Milkify, is setting the industry standard.  

Most folks focus on shipping time and price when selecting a service. And that’s important! But I’m here to talk about safety, so let’s dig into that. Here’s what you should look for when you pick a service, from a safety perspective.

The Processing Facility Matters

This industry has exploded in the last six months, and with it, sadly, there are some bad actors and others who are not transparent. I’ve heard of companies operating out of their home! In other cases, companies are using third party vendors to do the freeze drying. Watch out for this. Freeze-dryers can be used to preserve many types of food, like raw meat, pet food and candy. And when this happens allergens or food-borne pathogens could be introduced to your milk. 

Takeaway: You want a dedicated breast milk processing facility

How can you tell? 

  • They say it and back it up.
  • Look up the facility address on google to make sure it’s not someone's home!
  • Check out pictures of the inside and outside.
  • Look for details on where the freeze-drying happens and be cautious if a third-party is used.

GMP-Certified vs. GMP-Compliant

Good Manufacturing Practices are recommended practices defined by government agencies to keep quality and safety top notch. When a company is ‘compliant’ they are self-stating that they follow these guidelines. When you see ‘certified’ that means there is a third party check.

For me, third-party certification is key. This proves that any claims about avoiding contamination during the processing and packaging are actually happening. This is where the quality assurances come to be. Just words on a website is not sufficient proof of safety measures in place - these services are providing food for people's infants and they need to provide proof of their claims.

At Milkify, we put all these up on our website and if you ever want to know more we’re happy to share! Make sure that transparency is happening wherever you go with your breastmilk.

What About the FDA?

The Food & Drug Administration in the US does play a role, even though they do not regulate breast milk freeze drying services. What do they do? Let’s start with what they don’t do. The FDA will never ‘approve’ a facility, provider or lab. But, food facilities that are registered with the FDA are subject to FDA inspections to verify that they comply with good manufacturing practices (remember GMP?). Any facility that claims to be registered with the FDA should be able to provide you with their registration number.

Shelf Life

There is no industry standard for the shelf life of freeze-dried breast milk because it is completely dependent on how it is processed, and how it is packaged after freeze-drying, which varies by service provider. Three years was put out by Milkify and is now a generally accepted "industry standard"  but this is for our process and packaging. It can be way less depending on how it is packaged. 

The People Matter

At Miklify, the people who handle breast milk are trained and experienced. What matters here is experience in sterile handling and in labs, active food safety certifications and strict protocols regulating personal hygiene, personal protective gear, and equipment sanitation. This ensures your milk is handled safely from start to finish.  

Take a peak at a company’s ‘About Us’ page and see what they saw about the team handling your milk. A background in healthcare or research setting means they have experience with sterile handling techniques. 

Talk to Your Mom Friends

Know any mom friends who have tried this? Hit them up! Also, I love reading google reviews. Google and Facebook reviews are a good example of a third party review, you know they are not made up by the marketing department. 

Safety First!

Thank you, Dr. Berkley for breaking that down. Safety always comes first! There are few wonders more precious than a mother's breast milk for her baby. If you are considering freeze-drying your breast milk, do your own research before using any service!

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