Non-thermal technologies for milk and dairy processing
Modern consumers demand minimally processed, high-quality, sustainably produced, and ethically sourced food. The food industry strives to meet these demands without compromising food safety. Non-thermal technologies offer a solution by using different physical hurdles to ensure microbiological safety and extended shelf life. In the dairy industry, high-pressure processing, ultrasound, ultraviolet processing, cold plasma and pulsed electric fields show promise as effective non-thermal technologies. These methods achieve microbial inactivation by altering cell membrane structures and damaging genetic material, although the specific mechanisms may vary. Moreover, non-thermal technologies have the potential to enhance product quality and facilitate the development of functional dairy products, with high-intensity ultrasound and supercritical carbon dioxide as particularly noteworthy. Despite the expanding research and development in the field of non-thermal technologies in dairy industries, several challenges persist, including equipment costs, enzyme inactivation efficiency, the absence of validation procedures, regulatory hurdles and consumer acceptance.