Heat-resistant spores are ubiquitous and thus can also be present in foods and ingredients. Adequate inactivation of spores in food is required to ensure food safety and to achieve the required product shelf life.
NIZO has developed a screening tool to accurately determine the heat inactivation of spores in a continuous-flow system (Micro-heater system), thereby mimicking industrial UHT heating processes.
In a consortium with Nestlé and Friesland Foods, this tool has been used to assess the inactivation of problem spores in practice.
This allowed optimisation of the heating process to ensure adequate inactivation in relation to required product characteristics. Heating regimes can not only be tailored to inactivation of spores, but can at the same time be tailored to minimise detrimental effects on other product characteristics (e.g. colour, taste, protein denaturation), resulting in better product quality and less downtime due to shorter cleaning procedures.