Milk is a highly nutritious food and an excellent source of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. However, it is also an ideal medium for microbial growth and fresh raw milk easily deteriorates to become unsuitable for processing and human consumption.
There are numerous processes for prolonging the shelf-life of milk and dairy products and an increasing array of technologies that can be applied to improve its safety and quality, including refrigeration, pasteurization, microfiltration and high pressure processing.
Scientific research has revealed that Lactoperoxidase, a naturally existing enzyme in raw milk, catalyses the chemical reaction of thiocyanate, which is also naturally found in milk, in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. The resulting compound has a bacteriostatic effect on most bacteria and even a bactericidal effect on some bacteria, such as Escherichia coli.
The Lactoperoxidase system (LP-s) is one of a growing family of biostatics that can have beneficial effects in the processing of milk by extending the shelf-life and improving the quality of milk collected or preserved.
In 2005 FAO and WHO implemented a technical meeting on the benefits and potential risks of the LP-s of raw milk preservation, in order to provide scientific advice to Codex Alimentarius.
This work also responds to member country concerns regarding the use of LP-s, particularly in light of the current Codex guidance, which limits the application of LP-s of raw milk preservation to milk and dairy products which will not be traded international.