Filtration not a 'complete replacement' for heat treatment in dairy: GEA


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Membrane filtration and aseptic filling technologies will never provide a "complete replacement" for traditional heat treatment methods in the manufacture of extended shelf life dairy products such as UHT milk, GEA Process Engineering has claimed.

Speaking with at the International Dairy Show in Chicago last week, Bruce Blanchard, national sales manager for liquid processing engineering at GEA Process Engineering, and Pierpaolo Mattana, division manager at GEA Procomac, explained the still vital role played by heat treatment in the dairy sector.

"Heat transfer is still a very large part of the GEA business,"​ said Blanchard.

"But, what can be disadvantageous about that is that by heating products some of the products become volatilized, some compounds, and you can get some flavor defects."

While non-thermal alternatives, such as membrane filtration, offer a solution to this organoleptic issue using size exclusion and centrifugation, heat treatment is still a key part of the process. 

"Actually, because, by size exclusion, membrane filtration, the membrane itself can't differentiate between a pathogen and a non-pathogen bacteria," said Blanchard. "With heat treatment, a certain time-temperature relationship, you can guarantee that you've destroyed the pathogens,"​ said Blanchard.

"So it'll never be a complete replacement. What it allows you to do is minimize the thermal treatment, and to minimize any flavor defects that can develop from thermal treatments."

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