UHT treatment and storage effects on the biological quality of liquid infant formulas

UHT treatment, where the product is exposed to intense heating, is often used prior to long-term storage of milk and infant formulas. The heat treatment affects the milk's nutrients and it is therefore relevant to investigate how gentle heat treatment can help to preserve nutrient content and bioactivity.

By: Grith Mortensen

Weak newborns who receive milk substitute are ten times more likely to develop severe inflammatory bowel disease compared to breastfed infants. UHT-treated, reconstituted breast milk substitutes are increasingly used for such babies worldwide. Compared to powdered infant formulas, the storage of pre-dissolved substitutes with large amounts of lactose, polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) and protein, in combination with high storage temperatures in hospitals, can trigger harmful Maillard reactions. PUFA oxidizes proteins to Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). AGE can limit protein metabolism and bind to intestinal cells, which promote further inflammation. However, these effects on the gut are not very well understood.

In this project, various UHT dairy products and ready-dissolved infant formulas in relation to the Maillard reaction (oxidation and AGE compounds, protein damage) are investigated. The binding of the AGE compounds to receptors on the pig intestine and in cell models is examined, and finally selected products are given to premature pigs, to investigate the effect on digestion, intestinal function and inflammatory conditions in the intestine.

Project period: July 2918 - December 2021

Budget: 6.916.406 DKK 

Financing: Danish Dairy Research Foundation, Arla Foods, Arla Food Ingredients, University of Copenhagen  

Project manager: Dereck Chatterton 

Institution: Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen 

Participants: Department of Veterinary And Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen and Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen