Effects of High-Pressure Processing, UV-C Irradiation and Thermoultrasonication on Donor Human Milk Safety and Quality

Eva Kontopodi, Bernd Stahl, Johannes B. van Goudoever, Sjef Boeren, Rian A.H. Timmermans, Heidy M.W. den Besten, Ruurd M. Van Elburg, Kasper Hettinga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Holder pasteurization (HoP) is the current recommended treatment for donor human milk. Although this method inactivates microbial contaminants, it also negatively affects various milk components. High-pressure processing (HPP, 400, 500, and 600 MPa), ultraviolet-C irradiation (UV-C, 2,430, 3,645, and 4,863 J/L) and thermoultrasonication (TUS, 1,080 and 1,620 kJ/L) were investigated as alternatives to thermal pasteurization (HoP). We assessed the effects of these methods on microbiological safety, and on concentration and functionality of immunoglobulin A, lactoferrin, lysozyme and bile salt-stimulated lipase, with LC-MS/MS-based proteomics and activity assays. HoP, HPP, TUS, and UV-C at 4863 J/L, achieved >5-log10 microbial reduction. Native protein levels and functionality showed the highest reduction following HoP, while no significant reduction was found after less intense HPP and all UV-C treatments. Immunoglobulin A, lactoferrin, and lysozyme contents were also preserved after low intensity TUS, but bile salt-stimulated lipase activity was significantly reduced. This study demonstrated that HPP and UV-C may be considered as suitable alternatives to HoP, since they were able to ensure sufficient microbial inactivation while at the same time better preserving the bioactive components of donor human milk. In summary, our results provide valuable insights regarding the evaluation and selection of suitable processing methods for donor human milk treatment, which may replace HoP in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number828448
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2022


  • antimicrobial proteins
  • bacteria inactivation
  • bacteriostatic properties
  • donor human milk
  • non-thermal processing
  • proteomics


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