Human interference with mother nature is always a bad idea, and new research has identified spore-forming bacteria that not only survives milk pasteurization, but are able to germinate as a result of the heat. Certain bacteria have the ability to form a tough, protective endospore which allows them to survive extreme conditions. Food scientists have identified Paenibacillus bacteria as the predominant spore-forming bacteria in milk.
It’s already known that milk pasteurization can force proteins and fats into new configurations. New proteins with repetitive amino acids are created, and these protein fibers are important in several diseases.
Another case made against pasteurized dairy is that it’s considered a dead product. However, research shows that certain bacteria not only survive pasteurization, but are able to reproduce in refrigerated dairy.
Researchers at Cornell’s College of Agriculture have identified Paenibacillus bacteria as the most important spore formers in dairy products, and say that the growth of Paenibacillus bacteria is stimulated by heat treatment like pasteurization. Strains of this bacteria can survive extreme conditions and have adapted to survive both high heat and refrigeration.
The health implications of prolonged consumption of these spore-formers are not yet known, but research shows that they can foul milk and other food products.
The lab at Cornell’s college found that reducing the refrigeration temperature can decrease the growth of the bacteria, especially when the product is kept for a long time after pasteurization.
Some dairy processors have increased the pasteurization temperatures further, in an attempt to kill spore-formers. Early reports indicate that these measures only result in more spoilage.
Organic farming is the only sustainable method to create quality products and limit these super germs. Raw milk from healthy animals contains a wide variety of microorganisms and has a natural defense against certain “bad” bacteria. Whether spore-formers are present in fermented dairy products is not yet known.