The combination of ultrasound and heat (thermoultrasound) is an emerging food preservation technique that retains higher quantities of bioactive components compared with current thermal pasteurization practice, but has not yet been assessed for pasteurizing human milk. Artificially contaminated human milk samples were treated with ultrasound (20 kHz, 150 watts) with and without heating. The retention of four human milk proteins was quantified by biochemical assay and laser scattering particle sizing was used to determine the extent of homogenization. While ultrasonic treatment was effective at inactivating Escherichia coli (D4 °C=5·94 min), Staphylococcus epidermidis exhibited resistance (D4 °C=16·01 min). Thermoultrasonic treatment was considerably more effective (Esch. coli D45 °C=1·74 min, D50 °C=0·89 min; Staph. epidermidis D45 °C=2·08 min, D50 °C=0·94 minutes) with a predicted retention (2·8 min treatment, 50°C) of secretory IgA lysozyme, lactoferrin and bile salt stimulated lipase of 91, 80, 77, and 45%, respectively. Homogenization of the milk samples occurred after 5 min and 2 min of ultrasonic and thermoultrasonic treatment, respectively. Thermoultrasonic treatment is an effective method for pasteurizing donor human milk and retaining a greater proportion of bioactive components compared with current practices. However, further studies are required to assess the practicality of applying this technique routinely to donor human milk.
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