Why heat is vital to the dairy pasteurization process

Pasteurization is a necessary element to making edible products, but much depends on the heating method.

Pasteurization is a necessary element to making edible products, but much depends on the heating method.

Pasteurization is a necessary part of handling most dairy products and processing facilities depend on the highest quality equipment to help eliminate harmful organisms. According to Cream of Creams, heat temperatures have to be applied to products just below the boiling point to get rid of certain bacteria and organisms, but to also help the products keep their shape and taste.

Each dairy product requires a different heating temperature when pasteurized by the shell and tube heat exchanger. Specific heating equipment provides different temperature variations, and it's necessary to know what heat exchanger is needed for each dairy product.

As for pasteurization, there are two main reasons behind the process, which include making products that can be consumed by humans and to increase the quality of milk products, the source reported. Certain products can spoil easier than others and shelf life can be as limited as seven days.

Critical heat treatment methods
Heat treatment is needed for a dairy product before it reaches the final container to be shipped to consumers. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Association, heat treatment is needed for most products that are either refrigerated or frozen.

While the heat treatment process reduces bacterial pathogens from the product, it also significantly limits the total spoilage bacteria that exist in pasteurized items, the source reported. Bacteria can continue to grow after the product has already been pasteurized to make the product edible. Mold and other bacteria will eventually grow on dairy products after their shelf life is over.

Certain products are pasteurized and immediately filled in their packaging to reduce oxygen around the product until it is opened. This also helps reduce the amount of harmful bacteria entering the food product, the source reported.

However, most pasteurization processes heat the product and then immediately cool it to a certain temperature. Michele Jay-Russell, a food safety specialist for the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at University of California, Davis, explained that vat pasteurization heats milk to 63 Celsius for 30 minutes, but most pasteurization processes last around 15 seconds at 72 degrees Celsius, Food Safety News reported.

Flash pasteurization or high-temperature short-time (HTST) is the quick process that many food processing facilities use. Jay-Russell added that certain products are not as prone to contamination, but dairy items can be a hotbed for bacteria growth.

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