Why heat is vital to the dairy pasteurization process

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.

The Need for Pasteurization

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. This also helps 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. 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 Administration, 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.

The Vital Process

Pasteurization is an indispensable process in the dairy industry, playing a vital role in ensuring the safety and quality of dairy products that end up on our tables. It’s not merely a matter of extending shelf life; it’s about safeguarding our health and preserving the delicious flavors we associate with dairy.

Pasteurization, achieved through a range of methods such as vat pasteurization and high-temperature short-time (HTST) processes, serves two crucial purposes. Firstly, it eliminates harmful pathogens and bacteria that can pose a risk to human health. Secondly, it enhances the overall quality of dairy products by reducing the presence of spoilage bacteria. This dual-action approach ensures that the dairy items we consume not only taste great but are also safe to eat.

Different dairy products require specific pasteurization methods and temperatures, highlighting the importance of using the right equipment in processing facilities. Through precise control of heat and timing, pasteurization not only ensures the elimination of pathogens but also maintains the shape and taste of these products.

Furthermore, pasteurization has a significant role in extending the shelf life of dairy items. Without this process, many dairy products would have a shelf life as short as seven days, making it challenging to distribute and consume them safely. By reducing bacterial growth and mold formation, pasteurization ensures that these products remain safe and palatable for an extended period.

In essence, pasteurization is the unsung hero of the dairy industry, silently working behind the scenes to protect our health and keep our favorite dairy products fresh and delicious. As consumers, we can appreciate the science and care that go into this essential process every time we enjoy a glass of milk, a slice of cheese, or a spoonful of yogurt. So, the next time you savor a dairy delight, remember the role of pasteurization in making it not only tasty but also safe for your enjoyment.

Enerquip: A Leading Supplier to the Dairy Industry

Enerquip has been providing sanitary process solutions to the dairy industry for almost 40 years. If you’re in the market for stock or custom sanitary shell and tube heat exchangers, we invite you to contact us or request a quote today.