Science

World-first breakthrough improves on pasteurization and keeps milk fresh for 90 days

CEO of Naturo Jeff Hastings claims his process is the biggest breakthrough in the global milk industry since pasteurization 
CEO of Naturo Jeff Hastings claims his process is the biggest breakthrough in the global milk industry since pasteurization 
View 1 Image
CEO of Naturo Jeff Hastings claims his process is the biggest breakthrough in the global milk industry since pasteurization 
1/1
CEO of Naturo Jeff Hastings claims his process is the biggest breakthrough in the global milk industry since pasteurization 

An Australian company called Naturo has revealed the development of a breakthrough milk processing technique that is heat-free, eliminates more pathogens than pasteurization, and leaves the milk with a refrigerated shelf life of up to 90 days, opening up the product to new markets, such as those that currently rely on UHT milk.

Until the broad implementation of milk pasteurization in the early 20th century, the commonly consumed food product was actually incredibly dangerous. Regularly packed with harmful microbes and bacteria, the process of pasteurization, involving slow heating at 60° C (140° F) for 20 minutes, was found to eliminate the majority of those life-threatening contaminants and increase the product's shelf life up to several weeks.

In the 1960s more aggressive milk processing techniques, such as ultra-heat treatment (UHT), were developed, and when combined with sterile packaging techniques, could result in unrefrigerated milk keeping for up to nine months. UHT milk, while convenient for many, undeniably tastes quite different from fresh milk and the more forceful pasteurization process has been found to alter the product's protein structure and reduce its nutritional content. There is still substantial debate over how significantly the common, more gentle, pasteurization process can alter the nutritional content of milk, however, the contaminated dangers of raw milk still persist.

Naturo's latest announcement almost seem too good to be true, with its new process claiming to be heat-free, yet able to eliminate more pathogens from the milk than pasteurization. It is also claimed the process retains higher levels of several vitamins and enzymes that are destroyed during a conventional pasteurization process. On top of all of that, Naturo says its milk has a minimum refrigerated shelf life of anywhere from 60 to 90 days. Regular pasteurization, on the other hand, only extends the life of milk to between two and three weeks.

Exactly what Naturo's process entails is unclear at this point. In an interview with Australia's public broadcaster, CEO Jeff Hastings says the process harnesses, "a series of existing technologies." Exactly what those existing technologies are hasn't been revealed, but may involve Naturo's previous major innovation, a machine that utilizes air pressure to prevent cut avocados from turning brown and eliminates any pathogens introduced through the process of cutting the fruit.

Another Australian company, Made by Cow, presented a cold-pressure approach to processing milk back in 2016. It was claimed the process was as safe as heat pasteurization, with a final product closer to the texture and nutritional content of raw milk. Made by Cow's product doesn't stay fresh for the many months that Naturo is claiming.

Despite the ambitious claims and the oblique process, Hastings says his company has worked for over two years with independent scientists and regulatory bodies in Australia to validate the process. Dairy Food Safety Victoria, a government authority that monitors safety standards, is reported to have validated Naturo's claims, saying, "it's equivalent to or actually better than pasteurization".

The company's first goal is to push Australian milk exports into new territories. The extended shelf life of Naturo milk allows for more cost-effective shipping of fresh milk to countries that otherwise would only have access to UHT products or expensive air-freighted milk.

Source: Naturo

15 comments
Nik
That UHT milk, ''tastes quite different from fresh milk,'' is an understatement. I think it tastes utterly disgusting! Therefore if this new process is real, its bound to be popular. I can remember, [will I ever forget!] taking my two kids and four of their friends to a bike camping rally, and when all six of them were ready for their cornflakes the next morning, I found that ALL 12 pints, (15 US pints) had turned sour and was solid in the containers, in spite of being in a cool-box with packs of ICE overnight. I had to visit about dozen food vendors, before one of them took pity on me and agreed to sell me just one pint of milk. In Singapore in the 60's, the only way people there would drink UHT milk was if it was rumoured to be flavoured with either 'chocolate,' or 'strawberry.' ie 'pink-milk,' or, 'brown-milk.' The way the milk was rumoured to get its respective colour is unmentionable here. I will await this new version with 'great expectations.'
owlbeyou
I've done my own personal experiments with pasteurization and always thought that it entailed heating milk at 70 degrees celsius for 30-60 seconds, but I see here that 60 degrees for 30 minutes is claimed. Whichever way this method works, it was an enormous step forward in the 19th c. And this doesn't just apply to milk. All kinds of liquids can be pasteurized. With a consistent storage of about 3 degrees in the fridge, I've had milk last for 3+ weeks past the best-by date. It's crucial that the milk in question stayed cold during the transport and at the grocer as well. I just hope this method doesn't involve irradiation. I don't trust it yet. Taste and nutritional content must be maintained. Of course, if the lovely cows got pumped up with hormones and antibiotics, you're on your own.
Vernon Miles Kerr
No mention is made of "Ultra-Pasteurized" milk, a process used in the U.S. that incorporates gamma radiation. How does this compare to the process featured in your article?
Username
Contrary to Nik I find little difference between UHT and normally pasteurized milk. And I drink quite a lot of milk. After I lived on a remote beach for a year where UHT was the only option, I was surprised how little difference there was in taste when I returned to civilisation. UHT also has the advantage of not needing refrigeration until opened. The savings in transport and display cost unfortunately don't translate to the consumer.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
I used ultra pasteurized half and half on my cereal for many years. It always keeps for a week between grocery trips and tastes far better than 2% milk. The fear of milk fat has been shown to be unwarranted. The additional sugar used to compensate is far worse and has contributed to two generations of fat kids.
Gregg Eshelman
ISTR an earlier article about blasting milk into a super fine mist in near freezing temperatures to destroy all the bacteria. The small droplet size, pressure change and freezing combine forces to rupture the bacteria cells. Sounds like the process used to make powdered milk, but without the vacuum that evaporates the water.
usugo
kind of a feeling the "secret" process is microfiltration, already used by Parmalat for several years now
Brian Smith
Surprised no one has mentioned UV yet. It is an existing process used in milk processing that they may be combining with other processes to achieve this level of sterilization.
Macko
How do these different milks compare to powdered milk Nutrition wise? I spend a lot of time in the carribean and when you may not have electricity for great lengths of time(like PR after the double whammy hurricanes) powered milk allows for using smaller portions than if you open a box of the UHT to make a cup of coffee or even something else where you may not want to consume the whole thing
Don Duncan
I won't consume homogenated milk but I can only get pasteurized in NV. I recently found a dairy (Straus) who sells "cream top" milk from pasture cows and brags it isn't ultra heated. I like that and the taste. I grew up on illegal raw. It is drinkable after souring and makes great tasting pancakes. Pasteurized doesn't sour, it gets rotten and isn't drinkable. I challenge the claim that raw milk is dangerous. Maybe it was before refrigeration a century ago. Not now. What studies have been done using modern refrigeration that compares milk safety? Any? I doubt it. Why? The dairy cartel wants to protect its ability to extend shelf life and most of all freeze out the small dairies. They don't give a damn about consumer safety or health. Their product may be safe or not, but the status quo maximizes profits. That's why they spent millions fighting raw milk for a half century.
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.