Frequently Asked Questions
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What is Milkify
Milkify is a concierge breast milk freeze-drying service, customized to your needs. The Milkify facility is the first and only GMP-certified facility built specifically to process breast milk exclusively. We are the experts in sterile handling from start to finish. Freeze-dried breast milk powder in our packaging is shelf stable for 3 years, with no refrigeration needed. Milkify does not currently help match donors, we do not function as a ‘milk bank’, and we do not in any way, shape, or form sell or distribute breast milk. Our service is meant for those who already have a supply of frozen breast milk that they would like to have freeze-dried for longer, more convenient storage.
How does the Milkify service work?
Here’s how it works:
1) Milkify sends you a complete breast milk shipping kit
2) You pack your frozen milk into the kit and ship it back to Milkify using the pre-paid overnight shipping label (no dry ice or ice packs are needed).
3) Milkify uses a patent-pending contact-free process to remove the water from the milk, then packages and seals your breast milk powder in high-barrier, single-serve pouches.
The way our process works is bag-to-bag: meaning that every lactation bag you send will become its own pouch of powder. Each bag is freeze-dried separately within our specialized freeze-drying pouches, and the powder from that bag is packaged individually. The custom labels on the pouches you receive back will include accurate and customized rehydration instructions for each pouch of your milk. Our service is designed to be as easy as possible – so the prices listed for the service and the shipping are all flat-rates. This means that for the price listed, we will freeze-dry everything in the cooler you send for one flat rate. We have several sizes of shipping coolers, designed to accommodate various stash sizes, and can customize our service to your needs.
How long does the process take?
Shipping kits are scheduled in advance for shipping on a weekly basis. The turnaround time once we receive your milk is based on the volume you send. The Milkify Mini package comes standard with expedited processing (1 week turnaround). Please contact us if you have a deadline coming up - we are a concierge service and will do everything we can to make sure we are working on your schedule! We are happy to work around travel timelines or to help when moving (different shipping addresses) are a concern - just let us know via email at email@example.com or contact us before or after placing an order.
If timing is not an issue for you, we will process your milk in the order that it was received- please contact us before sending if you would like to know the current processing time. You can always track the status of your order using our tracking system here and you will receive email updates when we receive your milk, when your milk is processing, and when it has been shipped back to you!
Where is the Milkify service available?
We currently only ship our kits within the US. If you reside in the United States, we have in-house shipping logistics to get your milk to us safely. If you live near Houston, Texas we also accept drop-offs directly at our facility.
My milk has high lipase / my infant refuses frozen milk, will freeze-drying help?
Freeze-drying can help in many situations with milk that tastes different after freezer storage. 9/10 moms have told us that freeze-drying improved the taste of their high lipase milk. However, it is hard to predict whether the process will for sure make the milk palatable again because it depends on how much lipase activity has already occurred in the milk, and your infant's taste preference also plays a role! The lipase enzyme can remain active during freezer storage, but it is inactivated by the freeze-drying process. For moms concerned about high-lipase, freeze-drying may stop any further lipase activity, but it cannot undo any degradation that has already occurred. If your infant refuses milk that was previously frozen, that does not necessarily mean your milk had high lipase. The freeze/thaw process is also hard on milk, and that process alone can change the quality and taste of the milk. Freeze-drying can also help in this regard, because in the freeze-drying process, water goes directly from the solid (ice) to the gas form (water vapor), bypassing the thaw step and preventing some of the changes associated with that step. If your infant refuses your frozen milk, freeze-drying may help - but we recommend doing a small 'test' batch first, if this is a concern.
How long can milk be stored in the freezer prior to freeze-drying?
We will freeze-dry any milk that you would like to save. It's your milk, and your choice! However, we advise following the CDC recommendation of 12 months max freezer time from a safety standpoint. For nutrient preservation however, the two biggest things that affect the decrease in nutritional content of breast milk are the length of time that it is frozen, and the thawing process.
For the length of time component - the sooner you use frozen milk or freeze-dry it, the better. Most milk banks discard any unused milk after 3 months for this reason. So when deciding on whether to send the oldest or the newest milk in your freezer, if you send the older milk, you can stop the clock on any further nutrient degradation. Then, if you like the service and the result, you would still have the option of freeze-drying your fresher milk in the future if you wanted!
For the thawing component - the freeze-drying process actually requires the milk to be frozen as the first step - but it is never thawed. The process that removes the water is called sublimation - so the water goes straight from solid (ice) to gas (water vapor), bypassing the thawing step. This is important because it is the thawing step that can cause many changes to the quality of the milk. So while the freeze-dry process requires the milk to be frozen initially, it prevents some of the changes in quality, taste, and nutritional degradation that happens when milk is thawed from a frozen state.
What if my milk is in bottles/NICU tubes?
We can accept bottles and NICU tubes that were pre-sealed and pre-sterilized before you filled them with milk. The bottles that are provided by the hospital fit this criteria. Please be advised however that we are not able to return the tubes/bottles to you – they are discarded after processing.
Please note that we do not accept glass bottles/jars, or silicone storage bags.
If your milk was frozen in an ice cube tray (1-2 oz increments), we can accept the milk as long as you put it into a lactation bag for sending to us. We suggest sending the size of bottle that you would like to make, because each lactation bag of cubes you send will become its own pouch of powder (i.e. if you send five 1 oz cubes, the pouch of powder will rehydrate to a 5 oz bottle).
Is there a minimum/maximum volume per bag that I can send?
Please only send bags that have between 3-9 fl. oz.To ensure an accurate shelf life estimation for your milk, we will combine bags you send that are filled with less than 2.5 fl. oz. If bags are combined, the custom label on the pouch you receive back will state this in the note section, and also provide you the dates which were combined if you recorded this information
What kind of breast milk storage bags are accepted? What if mine is not on the list?
Your milk must be stored in a pre-sealed and pre-sterilized lactation bag (or hospital provided tube). Per FDA regulations on packaging that contacts infant food, we are not able to accept milk stored in bags not specifically approved for use as lactation bags (no Ziplock-type bags).
Approved bags include those made by: Avent, Ameda, Baby Lemon, Bumblebee, Dr. Browns, Eccomom, Evenflo, GoGo Pure, Idaho Jones, Kiinde, Lansinoh, Medela, Milkies, Mommy’s Precious, Motif, Nanobebe, Nuk, Spectra, Papablic, Parent's Choice, TDWOW, Tommee Tippee, Unimom, Up&Up, Willow. (There are many new brands on the market that are also accepted – if you do not see yours on the list, please feel free to contact us.) The bags you use must be intact (no rips or tears) and must be clean (free of dirt and debris) on the outside. The milk you send us should be frozen solid, and not previously thawed.
Please note that we do not accept glass bottles/jars, or silicone storage bags.
What if I have information written on my breast milk storage bags – is that saved?
You do not need to label your bags - we track each bag that comes through our facility individually for quality control purposes. Any information that is written on your bags is transferred to the custom label on the pouch of powder you receive back. We record the expression date on each label for you (you can see more about this here). We do this to help you know from when in your breastfeeding journey that specific milk was from since breast milk changes in composition over time. It is also perfectly fine if the volume or expression date are not written on the bag!
We also weigh each bag during our receiving process, and the volume of water you should add back will be clearly labeled on every pouch. This is done so that you know exactly how much water to add back for accurate rehydration (very important!). If there is other information written on the bag (such as milk from when you or your child was sick or special notes regarding your diet that day), we also record all of this information for you on the pouches you receive back.
Can you freeze-dry colostrum/transitional milk?
Yes, our process works the same for colostrum and transitional milk. If you labeled your bags as "colostrum" this note will be transferred to the label on the pouch that you receive back.
I placed my order (or paid my invoice), when will my shipping kit arrive?
Your order will be scheduled for the next available date based on the size of shipping kit you choose. The ship date will be listed on your invoice or chosen at the time of checkout. We ship the cooler to you via FedEx Ground. You will receive a notification as soon as your cooler has shipped, and tracking info will be emailed directly from the carrier. FedEx ground typically takes 1-4 business days for delivery. If you would like an accurate delivery timeframe, please contact us and we would be happy to assist!
Do you offer discounts?
Yes, we are happy to offer discounts for military (and spouses), first-responders, and educators. Please contact us and we will provide you a discount code to use at checkout.
What if I have more than 300 oz.?
Our largest shipping coolers hold up to 300 oz. For orders larger than this, we send multiple coolers according to the volume you would like to send. You can contact us prior to placing an order for an accurate quote.
If you are dropping off to our facility, we have no maximum limit for the volume you drop-off, but we may need to schedule your order to process in several batches if you drop-off more than 1000oz.
I already placed an order - how can I update the address for shipping?
If you need to update any of your information or the shipping address for your completed order, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I need the powder shipped to a different address?
We are happy to accommodate requests for shipping kits to be sent to one address, and your breast milk powder shipped back to you at a different address. Please email us at email@example.com to let us know!
Will I receive updates regarding my order?
Yes, you will receive updates when your breast milk shipping kit is on its way to you, when Milkify receives your milk, when your order is being processed, and when your breast milk powder has been shipped back to you. You can also use our tracking system here to track the status of your order anytime!
Shipping to Milkify
How is my milk shipped to Milkify?
We include a pre-paid overnight shipping label with your cooler. We track every shipment while in the air, and are available to receive packages on Mon-Fri. You will also receive tracking updates. You should plan to ship on Monday - Wednesday to avoid any potential shipping delays or weekend delivery complications. The earlier in the week you ship, the less risk of a delay that would span the weekend, when it is very difficult to retrieve your package from the carrier! As soon as your milk is received, we perform an initial quality control check to ensure that your milk is still frozen solid and has no rips/leaks/tears. We then send you a notification that your milk was received and passes our initial QC check.
How do I use the shipping cooler?
No dry ice is needed with the specialized shipping coolers that we use. You can see detailed instructions about using the coolers here. Pack your insulated shipping cooler immediately before shipping and ensure that your milk is frozen solid when it is being packed. The cooler will keep your frozen milk frozen for at least three (3) days, but to ensure a successful shipping experience, your milk must be frozen solid when packed, and then shipped as soon as possible after packing.
How much milk will fit in each cooler?
Each cooler will hold up to the volume of milk advertised for each size (Milkify Mini: 30-40 oz., Milkify Medium: 100-120 oz., Milkify Medium Plus: 150-180 oz., Milkify Stash: 220-250 oz., Milkify Stash Plus: 270-300 oz.). The exact amount of milk that you will be able to fit in the cooler may vary by 15-20%, and is largely dependent on several things: the volume of milk in your bags, the type of bags you use, and how the bags were frozen. In order to maximize the space in the cooler we have found that the most efficient packing is done with bags that are frozen completely flat and filled with 5 oz. or less.
Our minimum volume guarantee: If you send less than the minimum of the advertised range for the size you ordered, we will issue you a prorated refund at $1.62/oz.
What if there is a shipping delay while my frozen milk is being shipped to you?
The insulated shipping coolers we used are designed for frozen shipping, and will keep milk frozen for at least 3 days. These coolers do not need dry ice or ice-packs to function properly. The cooler panels are made from a specialized core material and are vacuum-sealed. We use overnight shipping services to get your milk to our facility in Houston, Texas, but in the cases of a shipping delay, these coolers will ensure that your milk stays frozen during the delay.
You will also receive tracking updates directly from FedEx while all of your shipments are in transit and our team will monitor all shipments in the case of delays. If a delay occurs, please contact us immediately at 832-534-0465, rather than the FedEx customer support hotline. We have logistics partners who can look into the status of your package quickly and efficiently. In this case, we will track your package closely and provide updates until your milk arrives safely. We have never received a shipment that has thawed prematurely using these specialized coolers, and will do whatever it takes to make sure your milk reaches us safe and sound! We are happy to send a confirmation picture when your milk is received (with a temperature reading) by request.
I’m in the Houston regional area and want to drop off some milk. How do I arrange a time?
Please contact us to arrange a time to drop off your milk directly to our facility!
Using your freeze-dried breast milk powder
How much water do I add back to the breast milk powder I get back?
Each bag of frozen breast milk you provide to Milkify becomes its own pouch of powder. When we receive your milk, the starting volume of frozen milk in each lactation bag is recorded. The instructions on the back of each pouch of powder you receive will indicate how much water to add back to the breast milk powder. This rehydrates the milk to its original consistency. For example, if you send in lactation bags with 5 oz. of frozen milk in each - the pouches you receive back would have the powder needed to make up one 5 oz. bottle per pouch. You can see more about this here.
How much powder will be sent back?
During the freeze-drying process, the weight of the milk is reduced by about 90%, and the only thing that freeze-drying removes is the water. Therefore, if you send in a 5 oz. lactation bag of frozen milk, the powder from that bag weighs about 0.5 oz. The instructions on the back of the bag you receive back would tell you exactly how much water to add back to get the same consistency as the original milk. You can see an example of this here.
How do I use my freeze-dried breast milk powder?
Your freeze-dried breast milk powder is sealed in individual, flat and light-weight bags, that are easy to take on-the-go, or to provide to a caretaker. When ready to use for a bottle prep, just mix the powder with warm, purified water and it turns into milk.
Here are some tips for bottle preps:
- Use warm, purified water to rehydrate your milk
- Swirl or shake the bottle to mix
- If clumps remain, gently heat the bottle under warm running water or place back in warm water bath for 1-2 minutes, then swirl bottle again.
- Depending on the fat content of the milk, it may take a bit longer for the fats to dissolve. For high fat content milk, stirring for up to 4-5 minutes may be necessary. Be patient, as this will ensure your baby gets all of the nutrients from the milk.
See detailed instructions here.
Breast milk powder can also be incorporated into solid foods for a nutritional boost anytime. See more about ways to use your freeze-dried breast milk as a super food for your toddler here.
Once you mix the freeze-dried milk with water, how long do you have to use it? Can I store the packets once opened?
Once the milk is rehydrated, we recommend to use or refrigerate within 2 hours (just like using thawed milk). Discard if unused after 24 hours in the refrigerator.
After you open a bag of your breast milk powder, remember to re-seal the zipper if any unused powder remains. The powder will rapidly start to attract moisture if left unsealed, which can lead to bacterial growth as your milk was not pasteurized during the freeze-drying process. For this reason, once the bag has been opened, it should be re-sealed, kept at room temp, and used within 3 days.
Can I travel with freeze-dried breast milk?
Our packaging is TSA-compliant, so you can take your powdered breast milk through airport security in your carry-on without worrying about tests or probes! Since no refrigeration is needed, you do not need to bring a cooler. Having breast milk powder on hand for travel is really convenient, but keep in mind that it usually does require warm water to fully rehydrate and avoid clumping of the fats in the milk.
Our breast milk freeze-drying process
Is freeze-dried breast milk safe? Do you add anything to it?
Yes, freeze-drying is a safe way to preserve breast milk. Freeze-drying has been used by human milk donor banks since the 1950s to preserve and store human milk in a better way. Freeze-drying is a very gentle process, which ensures maximum nutrient retention. With freeze-drying, absolutely NO chemicals, additives, or preservatives are added to your milk. Milkify operates the only GMP-certified facility dedicated exclusively to the freeze-drying of breast milk in North America. Additionally, Milkify's patent-pending process is unique in that we never touch your milk (no utensils and no equipment will ever come in contact with your milk). In addition, all operations at Milkify are performed in sterile ISO5 cleanroom workstations to prevent the introduction of contamination (bacteria, chemicals, etc) into your milk. Milkify follows all safe handling guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), and complies with the packaging regulations for infant food set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition, Milkify's own robust set of Quality Control procedures regulate our processes, facilities, equipment, personnel, and packaging in order to assure consistent quality and safety of our service. Our facility is regularly inspected and our entire operation has been audited for GMP-compliance by independent third-party experts. See more about our quality assurance measures here.
How does the freeze-drying process work?
Water is removed from your breast milk using a process called freeze-drying (or lyophilization). This process occurs in a freeze-drying chamber, and involves freezing the milk to very low temperatures and removing the air in the chamber to create a vacuum. Over time, this causes the ice crystals in your milk to turn into water vapor. Freeze-drying is a well-known process in the food and medical industries as it an excellent method for preserving a wide variety of heat-sensitive materials such as proteins, probiotics, & pharmaceuticals. Freeze-drying was discovered in the 13th century by the Inca people in the Andes mountains of present-day Peru, who used the technique to preserve potatoes into a dish known as chuño. It was used by the military in WWII to transport blood plasma, and by NASA in the 1960s to make the first astronaut foods. Learn more about the freeze-drying process here.
Do you use oxygen/moisture absorbers in the final packaging?
No, we do not put oxygen/moisture absorber packets into the final packaging. We have in-house quality control testing - via a water activity meter - which is the industry standard for ensuring that your breast milk powder is dry enough for long term storage. Oxygen absorber packets are not typically used in the food industry for milk powder of any kind because they cannot be relied upon to ensure a quality final product that is dry enough to prevent microbial growth. The use of oxygen/moisture absorber packets is not a substitute for an actual shelf life analysis, which must be done by an outside laboratory. The only way to do this is via testing to ensure that the freeze-drying process was performed efficiently. We had an independent lab perform shelf life testing on our finished product, which is why we can be confident in our stated 3 year shelf life.
How does your freeze-drying process affect the nutrients in the breast milk?
Freeze-drying is a very gentle process, and results in retention of the nutrients in breast milk. Various human milk donor banks world-wide are implementing this process as an improved method of storage for donated breast milk. We have more information about the research of how the freeze-drying process affects various components of breast milk here and here. From extensive testing of our process, we have seen similar results to what is published in the research cited on our site – no significant decline in any macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbs, or overall caloric content). We now offer nutritional testing as an add-on to our service in which we measure the calories, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your milk using the Miris, an FDA approved human milk analyzer. When rehydrated according to the instructions on the custom label of each pouch - the rehydrated breast milk will have the same nutritional composition as before freeze-drying. Please contact us to ask about how you can receive this analysis with your order!
What is the shelf life of freeze-dried breast milk powder?
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. The shelf life of freeze-dried breast milk processed and packaged by Milkify is 3 years from the date of freeze-drying. Milkify's shelf-life testing was performed by Addium (formerly Meter Group). Milkify uses laboratory grade testing equipment (the Aqualab3 water activity meter) to test every batch of freeze-dried breast milk before packaging, to ensure that the 3 year shelf-life estimate we provide is accurate. No oxygen/moisture absorbers are used in packaging by Milkify and each lactation bag provided to Milkify becomes its own pouch of powder.
Just like any other food that you find in your pantry, freeze-dried breast milk does have an expiration date. Why is this important? The shelf life of your freeze-dried breast milk is the time that it is expected to remain free from microbial growth. Since your milk is not sterile (and is not pasteurized), if there is too much moisture left in your breast milk powder prior to packaging, microbes will be able to grow. Excess moisture can actually cause the freeze-dried breast milk to spoil within just a few weeks or months.
Since breast milk powder is very hydrophilic (it attracts moisture from the environment very quickly), it's important that it is packaged in single-use pouches. Once opened, these pouches should be used within 3 days. Packaging breast milk powder in large containers that are meant to be opened and closed multiple times (like a formula canister or large bag) greatly reduces its shelf life. This is why formula companies tell you to use their canisters within 1 month after opening. Companies shipping breast milk powder in large containers are doing so to save money on packaging and sell you "convenience", but in reality are putting the safety of your infant at risk by not warning you about the reduced shelf life. Additionally, the use of oxygen/moisture absorber packets is not a substitute for an actual shelf life analysis, which must be done by an outside laboratory.
What kind of quality controls do you have in place?
Milkify is GMP-certified and has the following quality controls in place to ensure sterile handling of breast milk from start to finish:
1. NO THAWING - Your milk is kept frozen at all times during shipping and while in our facility. When your milk is received, it immediately undergoes a QC check to ensure safe temperatures were maintained during transport, and that no bags have been damaged. Your milk in stored in a dedicated bin in one of our freezers until freeze-drying. Our freezers are remotely monitored for temperature and are equipped with backup generators in case of power outage.
2. NO TOUCHING - We never touch your milk. Milkify is the only company to have a completely contact-free process from start to finish (absolutely no contact with equipment or utensils at any point in the process). Each bag of frozen milk you provide to Milkify is processed individually inside a specially-designed freeze-drying pouch (our patent-pending SafeDry pouches). Our SafeDry pouches allow water vapor to escape while protecting your milk from contamination. We do not pool milk on trays for processing and each bag you send to Milkify becomes its own pouch of powder. The SafeDry pouches that protect the breast milk during processing and packaging at Milkify are specially manufactured and our patent-pending process has not been licensed out to any other companies.
3. INDIVIDUAL BAG TRACKING - We track each individual bag of frozen breast milk we receive from start to finish. Each unique Bag ID identifies your bags of milk, and each is processed individually. This means that even while in the freeze-dryer, your bags of milk are labeled with your name and unique tracking number. Your milk is never in direct contact with our equipment and we follow strict quality control procedures to ensure that cross-contamination is avoided during the process. Trained technicians using sterile techniques in ISO5 cleanroom workstations ensure that no contamination in introduced during the packaging process, and every bag is packaged by hand (NO powder dispensers) into individual, single-use pouches. Each order is processed separately, and there is no point in our process in which your milk is at risk of being in contact with another client's milk. Each pouch is sealed to protect the powder from oxygen, moisture, UV, and contamination during storage. No refrigeration is needed for storage of these pouches.
4. STERILE HANDLING - The Milkify processing team has over 40 combined years of sterile handling expertise and all of Milkify's processing technicians are either trained research laboratory personnel or medical professionals who have years of experience in sterile handling techniques. Only these highly trained personnel with active food safety certifications process the milk and follow strict protocols regulating personnel hygiene, personal protective gear, and equipment sanitization to ensure that your milk is handled safely from start to finish.
5. QUALITY CONTROL TESTING - As part of our final quality control check, we measure the exact water activity (“dryness”) of the breast milk powder using a laboratory-grade water activity meter. This final QC check ensures that the freeze-drying process removed water from the milk efficiently. This is how we know that your breast milk powder will remain shelf stable for up to 3 years with no refrigeration when stored properly in a cool, dry place.
6. FACILITY TESTING - We perform regular environmental testing of our facility and our equipment to ensure that our cleaning and sanitizing practices are safe and effective in preventing the growth of environmental pathogens like Cronobacter sakazakii.
How can I be sure that the breast milk powder I receive is my own?
We have many quality control checkpoints in place to keep the milk separated. First - each customer's order is processed one at a time. This includes the receiving, the freeze-drying, and the packaging steps.
Second - we track each bag individually. Each bag you send in is labeled with your name and a unique tracking code, and we use this to track each bag of your milk from start to finish. Your milk is freeze-dried inside of a specialized freeze-drying pouch - this patent-pending design allows water vapor to escape while protecting your milk from contamination at any point in the process (we do NOT pool milk on trays for processing). This means that even while in the freeze-dryer, every single bag of your milk is labeled with your name!
With this system, we can include the expression date and any other information you recorded on the custom label provided on each pouch of breast milk powder you receive back (if you did not record any notes, that's okay too! In this case the notes section on your label will be left blank). You can see an example of this here at the bottom of this page.
Can I use the information on this site for medical advice?
We are here to help you store your breast milk safely and conveniently; however, we are no substitute for medical professionals. Any advice or information provided on the Website is for informational purposes only and does not create a professional relationship, is not an aid to making medical decisions, and is not marketed, promoted or otherwise intended to be used to diagnose any disease or other condition, or to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent any disease. The Website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Website. Powdered breast milk is not sterile and should not be fed to premature infants or infants who might have immune problems unless supervised by your baby's doctor.