Don’t boil it, zap it!

By 20. May 2015Blog, Health, Risk Management

With pasteurised milk and refrigeration a normal part of our day to day lives we probably haven’t considered what you do without it.

According to a recent publication in the journal Technology, milk can produce a good income for small scale farmers from rural areas of South Asia and Sub-Saharian Africa. The problem is stopping it from spoiling, and especially killing any Listeria monocytogenes.

The option to boil it is normally achieved by burning biomass and when this is done inside can lead to damaging smoke inhalation. Refrigeration normally requires being plugged into the grid (although this does remind me of the story about the poo powered fridge from 2012) or the use of a generator.

But how about using short pulses of electricity? Known as electroporation, this process changes the permeability of cell walls and is usually used by molecular biologists to get DNA or chemicals into cells. But if you use slightly longer time durations then you cause irreversible electroporation, the cell membranes do not recover and so the cells die. Apparently the pulses can be supplied by solar power so no need to hook up to the grid.

What I would like to know though, is does this also kill E. coli 0157 H7, Salmonella and Brucella? If so, then maybe this could used to provide safe raw milk for enthusiasts here? Just a thought….

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