50 years of UHT treatment in Spain

23th September 2014

In 1964, the UHT treatment arrived in Spain, a milestone in the dairy industry that, combined with a bacteria-free filling system and sterile packaging, allowed the milk to be kept with its properties intact for months without the need for cold or preservatives.

In the 60s, the consumption of milk was linked to the proximity of the population to livestock farms due to the high costs of refrigeration. However, the progressive migration to the cities made it necessary to look for a system that would allow its transport and storage without the need for cold and that, at the same time, would guarantee that this food reached consumers in a safe way.

Changes in shopping habits due, above all, to the incorporation of women into the workplace also had an influence.
The UHT (Ultra High Temperature) process consists of heating the product for 3 or 4 seconds at a temperature of 137-150 ° C and then rapidly cooling it. In this way, the bacteria present are eliminated, while the nutritional substances and their original taste are preserved without using chemicals or preservatives. If, in addition, the product is packaged under sterile conditions and in a sterile container that protects the content from light and air, the result is an aseptic product.
In Spain, initially the milk was obtained in dairies, establishments destined to the sale of milk and its derivatives, and where it was necessary to subject this product to a cooking process in order to be suitable for consumption. Subsequently, and until the incorporation of the UHT treatment, pasteurized milk was consumed, with an expiration date of 3 days, whose system eliminated the bacteria that cause diseases (pathogens). Later, "commercial sterilization" was developed, which allowed the milk to be stored for months.
With the arrival of the UHT system, the first packaging machines were installed that allowed a complete aseptic treatment. The LARSA de Vigo firm was the first, followed by other brands that installed this system throughout Spain such as BEYENA in Bilbao, RAM in Barcelona or LECHE PASCUAL in Aranda de Duero (Burgos). Since then, the dairy industry has evolved enormously and milk has become the basis for the development of numerous products offering additional benefits.

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