Ultra-high-temperature processing

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A Tetra Pak ultra-pasteurization line.

Ultra-high temperature processing (UHT), or ultra-heat treatment, sterilizes food by heating it above 135 °C (275 °F) – the temperature required to kill spores in milk – for 1 to 2 seconds.[1] UHT is most commonly used in milk production, but the process is also used for fruit juices, cream, soy milk, yogurt, wine, soups, honey, and stews.[1] UHT milk was first developed in the 1960s and became generally available for consumption in the 1970s.[2]

The heat used during the UHT process can cause Maillard browning and change the taste and smell of dairy products.[3] An alternative process is HTST pasteurization (high temperature/short time), in which the milk is heated to 72 °C (162 °F) for at least 15 seconds.

UHT milk, if not opened, has a typical unrefrigerated shelf life of six to nine months. HTST pasteurized milk has a shelf life of about two weeks from processing, or about one week from being put on sale.[4]


  • Calories
UHT milk contains the same number of calories as pasteurized milk.
  • Calcium
UHT and pasteurized milk contains the same amount of calcium.
  • Protein
UHT milk's protein structure is different from that of pasteurized milk, which prevents it from separating in cheese making.[5]
  • Folate
UHT milk contains 1 μg of folate per 100 g, while pasteurized milk contains 9 μg.[6]
Some nutritional loss can occur in UHT milk.[7]


UHT milk has seen large success in much of Europe, where across the continent as a whole 7 out of 10 Europeans drink it regularly.[8] In fact, in a hot country such as Spain, UHT milk is preferred due to high costs of refrigerated transportation and "inefficient cool cabinets".[9] UHT is less popular in Northern Europe and Scandinavia, particularly in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is also less popular in Greece, where fresh pasteurized milk is the most popular type of milk.

UHT milk as a percentage of total consumption[10]
Country percent
 Austria 20.3
 Belgium 96.7
 Croatia 73[11]
 Czech Republic 71.4
 Denmark 0.0
 Finland 2.4
 France 95.5
 Brazil 88.1
 Germany 66.1
 Greece 0.9
 Hungary 35.1
 Ireland 10.9
 Italy 49.8
 Netherlands 20.2[citation needed]
 Norway 5.3
 Poland 48.6
 Portugal 92.9
 Slovakia 35.5
 Spain 95.7
 Sweden 5.5
  Switzerland 62.8
 Turkey 53.1
 United Kingdom 8.4

In June 1993, Parmalat introduced its UHT milk to the United States.[12] In the American market, consumers are uneasy about consuming milk that is not delivered under refrigeration, and reluctant to buy it. To combat this, Parmalat is selling its UHT milk in old-fashioned containers, unnecessarily sold from the refrigerator aisle.[4] UHT milk is also used for many dairy products.

UHT milk is sold on American military bases in Puerto Rico[13] and Korea due to limited availability of milk supplies and refrigeration.

UHT milk gained popularity in Puerto Rico as an alternative to pasteurized milk due to environmental factors. For example, power outages after a hurricane can last up to 2 weeks, during which time pasteurized milk would spoil from lack of refrigeration.


In 2008 the UK government proposed a 90% UHT milk production target by 2020[14] which they believed would significantly cut the need for refrigeration, and thus benefit the environment by reducing green house emissions.[15] However the milk industry opposed this, and the proposition was abandoned.

In Thailand, there are environmental concerns relating to UHT milk cartons. Tetra Pak (Thai) Ltd. is due to "establish Southeast Asia's first recycling plant for used UHT drink containers".[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "UHT Processing". University of Guelph, Department of Dairy Science and Technology. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  2. ^ Elliott, Valerie (2007-10-15). "Taste for a cool pinta is a British Tradition". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  3. ^ Clare, D.A.; W.S. Bang; G. Cartwright; M.A. Drake; P. Coronel; J. Simunovic (1 December 2005). "Comparison of Sensory, Microbiological, and Biochemical Parameters of Microwave Versus Indirect UHT Fluid Skim Milk During Storage". Journal of Dairy Science 88 (12): 4172–4182. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(05)73103-9. PMID 16291608. 
  4. ^ a b "Why does organic milk last so much longer than regular milk?". scientificamerican.com. 
  5. ^ "How To Make Paneer Cheese in 30 Minutes". The Kitchn. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  6. ^ "Taste for a cool pinta is a British tradition". The Times. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  7. ^ Greg Morago (27 December 2003). "UHT: Milking it for all it's worth". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  8. ^ Solomon. Zaichkowsky, Polegato.Consumer Behavior: Pearson, Toronto. 2005. pg 39
  9. ^ "Without prejudice.". Dairy Industries International. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  10. ^ Elliott, Valerie (2007-10-15). "The UHT route to long-life planet". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  11. ^ "Udio trajnog mlijeka veći od 70%". Ja Trgovac. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  12. ^ Janofsky, Michael (1993-06-26). "Seeking to Change U.S. Tastes; Italian Company Sings The Praises of UHT Milk". The New York TImes. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  13. ^ "Dairyman wants to send milk to Middle East". Deseret News. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  14. ^ "Dairy Road Map outlines target for greenhouse gas cut". Farmers Guardian. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  15. ^ Elliott, Valerie (2007-10-15). "The UHT route to long-life planet". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  16. ^ "Tetra Pak to set up recycling facility,". The Nation. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 

External links[edit]