Due to increasing attention from consumers on non-bovine milk types, and to the increase in the number of small dairy donkey farms in Italy, farmers require more advanced and reliable processing devices, in order to guarantee a safe product of high quality. To this aim, a new small-scale High-Temperature Short-Time (HTST) pasteurizer (72 °C for 15 s), prototyped by the authors, was tested on donkey milk. The efficacy of the HTST device was tested on raw donkey milk microflora by enumeration of total aerobic bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae and Bacillus cereus. The biochemical quality was assessed by determining the protein profile by monodimensional electrophoresis and by measuring lysozyme activity. The HTST apparatus was able to reduce the total bacteria count, and to completely eradicate Enterobacteriaceae. Bacillus cereus, when present, was decreased with low efficiency. Changes in the protein profile were observed in milk pasteurized in accordance with both processes, although HTST seemed to limit casein degradation. Lysozyme activity was not substantially affected in comparison to raw donkey milk. In conclusion, a tailored small-volume HTST device could be safely applied to pasteurize donkey milk in on-farm pasteurization processes on small dairy donkey farms.
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