HTST pasteurization has grown in popularity in recent years. Pasteurization extends the shelf life of foods and beverages by slowing the growth of microbes while not completely killing them. Pasteurized products include milk, dairy products, juices, bottled water, and canned foods. They are heated to a higher temperature than in Hot Filling for a shorter period (typically 15-30 seconds), then rapidly cooled before being filled into the aseptic packaging.
The volume of pasteurized beverage products each day will determine whether HTST pasteurization is the best method for you. The continuous method will be the most cost-effective and successful option if a processing plant handles large volumes. Because HTST pasteurization causes more components, it may be more costly than the holding method.
What is HTST Pasteurization?
HTST pasteurization refers to high-temperature short-time processing, also known as flash pasteurization, or the “continuous method.” Pasteurizing perishable beverages such as fruit and vegetable juices, beer, wine, and some dairy products, such as milk using heat. It keeps color and flavor better than other HTST pasteurization processes, but some cheeses have varying reactions to the process.
It is now one of the most widely used methods of pasteurization. This pasteurization destroys pathogenic organisms in beverage products such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, molds, and yeasts to reduce bacterial content and provide a safe product to the public.
To prevent post-pasteurization contamination, use it with sterile fill technology (similar to aseptic processing). For about 15 to 30 seconds, the liquid moves in a controlled, continuous flow while being subjected to temperatures ranging from 71.5 °C (160 °F) to 74 °C (165 °F), followed by rapid cooling to between 4 °C (39.2 °F) and 5.5 °C (42 °F).
HTST pasteurization helps destroy microorganisms in milk products efficiently and effectively. Coxiella burnetii, the most heat-resistant pathogen of public health concern in raw milk, is killed by heating milk to 71.7°C for 15 seconds.
Working with a wide range of temperatures is always safe. Because it is technically impossible to bring the milk to that exact temperature. To be on the safe side, heat the milk for 15 to 20 seconds at 72°C to 74°C. Ensures that the milk is heated evenly to the desired temperature. This technique is best suited for continuous pasteurization systems.
High-quality flash pasteurized milk has a shelf life of 16 to 21 days. Some manufacturers will intentionally shorten the number of days to get their products off the shelves for selfish commercial reasons.
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- How flash pasteurization is going to change the beverage manufacturing industry
The Advantages and disadvantages of HTST pasteurized
- Color and flavor are better preserved than with other methods.
- Effective for milk products and juice/puree-based and kegged beer products.
- Fewer manufacturing facilities can apply this method.
- When compared to Tunnel Pasteurization and Hot Filling, it is more expensive.
Why is HTST Pasteurization the most common method?
An HTST pasteurization system is a modular unit that comprises a stainless steel balance tank, a plate-and-frame heat exchanger, pumps, valves, holding tube, piping, and controls. The holding method, also known as VAT pasteurization, is the oldest method of pasteurizing food. However, HTST has gained popularity in the food industry for a variety of reasons over the years:
- Large equipment capacity allows for large volumes to be processed at the same time.
- Because the process is continuous, bottling can begin as soon as pasteurization begins.
- Extremely energy-efficient
- Milk product has a low risk of damage.
- Regeneration is fully used.
- The equipment is simple to clean and sterilize.
- Thermophiles are easier to deal with.
HTST pasteurization is the most common method of pasteurization in the United States today, which uses metal plates and hot water to raise milk temperatures to at least 161° F for no less than 15 seconds, followed by rapid cooling. Higher Heat Shorter Time (HHST) pasteurization is like HTST pasteurization, but it employs slightly different equipment and operates at higher temperatures for a shorter period. To be considered Ultra-Pasteurized (UP), a product must be heated to 280°C for 2 seconds. UP pasteurization yields a product with a shelf life longer than HTST pasteurization shelf life but still requires refrigeration.
How HTST pasteurization works
HTST pasteurization is a newer variation of the traditional procedure, but it is based on the same fundamental principle. Rather than heating the container of food or liquid, as in traditional pasteurization, the batch of liquid is heated as it is poured into sterile containers. According to Michigan State University, this method uses higher temperatures than traditional pasteurization and takes about 15 seconds rather than 30 minutes. This method is commonly used to pasteurize bulk products.
A typical milk pasteurization system, for example, comprises the following components:
- Balance tank: maintains a constant head for the incoming milk
- Pump for milk feeding: generates the pressure for efficient flow.
- Flow control system: ensures that a sufficient amount of fluid is present in the conduits at all times.
- Clarifiers and Filters: remove dirt from the product of milk
- Homogenizer: prevents fat separation in standing milk by dividing fat globules into micro globules.
- PHE with regeneration, heating, holding, and cooling sections: allows for more efficient pasteurization
- Each section of the pasteurizer has improved the PHE’s efficiency.
- Flow diversion valves: ensures all pasteurization conditions have been fulfilled
- Conduits/piping system: Allow the movement of milk and utilities from one location to another without the risk of contamination.
- Peripheral utilities such as compressed air, steam, and water: provide the utilities required for heating, cooling, and pressurized environments.
- Instrumentation and control equipment: Improves system efficiency and dependability
Benefits of HTST Pasteurization
Flash pasteurization is useful for preserving certain products’ flavor, color, and nutritional value, such as fruit juices. When compared to traditional pasteurization, this method can increase the shelf life of certain products.
Flash pasteurized milk, for example, has a refrigerated shelf life of two to three weeks. A study published in the journal “Frontiers in Bioscience” found that flash pasteurization was the best method for preserving the nutritional quality of human breast milk when compared to other methods. The United States Department of Agriculture strictly regulates pasteurization methods to ensure the safety of the products produced.
Drawbacks of HTST Pasteurization
Because of the technology involved, flash pasteurization is a much more expensive process than the traditional method. According to the “Journal of Perinatology,” there is also some evidence that the high temperatures involved in the process can destroy or alter the activity of beneficial compounds in food products, such as certain immunoglobulins in breast milk. Some non-pathogenic beneficial microbes in products may be killed by flash pasteurization.
These concerns have led many people to consume unpasteurized products. However, consuming these products poses a risk of contamination if they are stored for even short periods.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to pasteurize HTST?
Benefits. HTST pasteurization is useful for preserving certain products’ flavor, color, and nutritional value, such as fruit juices. When compared to traditional pasteurization, this method can increase the shelf life of certain products.
Is it true that flash pasteurization destroys nutrients?
Pasteurization is killing harmful germs in juice, milk, and other foods by heating them. Although pasteurization reduces certain nutrients in the juice, the final product retains the majority of its original nutritional value.
Is pasteurized juice harmful to your health?
No, but it is lower in nutrients than unpasteurized juice. Pasteurization is a process that kills any harmful bacteria that may have been present in the fruit or vegetables. To avoid health risks, it is recommended that children, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system drink pasteurized juice rather than non-pasteurized juice.
Is it safe to consume flash pasteurized milk during pregnancy?
Only consume pasteurized juices. As a result, they are hazardous to pregnant women. Look for labels such as flash pasteurization or HPP.
HTST pasteurization is an effective method of making beverages safe to consume without significantly altering their sensory or nutritional properties. As a continuous process, it uses energy regeneration and can operate at scales and with energy efficiencies that other processes cannot match. The most important determinants of good keeping quality are: raw material quality, ensuring time-temperature conditions, reducing or eliminating post-pasteurization contamination, maintaining a low temperature during storage.
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