Hydrodynamic cavitation is a powerful tool for the enhancement of various processing applications. This study utilizes continuous hydrodynamic cavitation (CHC) for the inactivation of pathogens in milk for the first time. The thermal characteristics, inactivation performance, damage on the nutritional composition, product safety, and cost of the advanced rotational hydrodynamic cavitation reactor at pilot scale were comprehensively investigated. The inactivation results demonstrated that 5.89, 5.53, and 2.99 ± 0.08 log reductions of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus cereus were achieved, respectively, at a final treatment temperature of 70 °C for 1–2 s. Moreover, the detrimental effect of CHC on the nutritional composition of milk, including mineral, fat, protein, and vitamin contents, was similar to that of high-temperature short-time method. The change in the concentrations of general bacteria and E. coli, as well as the pH value and acidity of the CHC treated milk stored at 5 °C for 14 days was found to be close to that of low-temperature long-time pasteurized milk. The cost of the present CHC treatment was $0.00268/L with a production rate of 4.2 L/min. CHC appears to be a remarkable method for the continuous processing of milk, as well as other liquid foods with high nutrition and “fresh-picked” flavor, due to its high efficacy, good scalability, high production capacity, and low operating and equipment costs.
- Bacterial inactivation
- Continuous hydrodynamic cavitation
- Milk treatment
- Nutritional composition
- Thermal characteristics