The effect of ultra-high pressure homogenization (UHPH) on microbial and physicochemical shelf life of milk during storage at 4°C was studied and compared with a conventional heat preservation technology used in industry. Milk was standardized at 3.5% fat and was processed using a Stansted high-pressure homogenizer. High-pressure treatments applied were 100, 200, and 300 MPa (single stage) with a milk inlet temperature of 40°C, and 200 and 300 MPa (single stage) with a milk inlet temperature of 30°C. The UHPH-treated milks were compared with high-pasteurized milk (PA; 90°C for 15 s). The microbiological quality was studied by enumerating total counts, psychotropic bacteria, lactococci, lactobacilli, enterococci, coliforms, spores, and Pseudomonas. Physicochemical parameters assessed in milks were viscosity, color, pH, acidity, rate of creaming, particle size, and residual peroxidase and phosphatase activities. Immediately after treatment, UHPH was as efficient (99.99%) in reducing psychrotrophic, lactococci, and total bacteria as was the PA treatment, reaching reductions of 3.5 log cfu/mL. Coliforms, lactobacilli, and enterococci were eliminated. Microbial results of treated milks during storage at 4°C showed that UHPH treatment produced milk with a microbial shelf life between 14 and 18 d, similar to that achieved for PA milk. The UHPH treatments reduced the L* value of treated milks and induced a reduction in viscosity values of milks treated at 200 MPa compared with PA milks; however, these differences would not be appreciated by consumers. In spite of the fat aggregates detected in milks treated at 300 MPa, no creaming was observed in any UHPH-treated milk. Hence, alternative methods such as UHPH may give new opportunities to develop fluid milk with an equivalent shelf life to that of PA milk in terms of microbial and physicochemical characteristics. © American Dairy Science Association, 2007.
- Microbial inactivation
- Milk shelf life
- Physicochemical characteristic
- Ultra-high pressure homogenization