Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Bacteriological quality control in human milk-banking.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 13 January 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:80
  1. A Lucas,
  2. C D Roberts


    The bacteriological quality of pooled human milk donated to the Oxford milk bank was analysed and the effects on bacteriology of sterilisation of the milk-collecting vessels in the home with hypochlorite solution and of Holder pasteurisation in a purpose-built human-milk pasteuriser were studied. Collecting milk in hypochlorite-sterilised vessels resulted in a significantly lower bacterial count of both pathogens and species of unlikely pathogenicity before pasteurisation and significantly increased the chance of pasteurisation giving a sterile product. Potentially pathogenic organisms grown in untreated milk were Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and group B beta-haemolytic streptococci. Seven species of organisms of unlikely pathogenicity were also identified. Pasteurisation eliminated all potential pathogens from milk but did not reliably remove any of the species of unlikely pathogens. Banked human milk may be contaminated with bacteria which are known to be capable of producing lipases, proteases, and decarboxylases. Accurate pasteurisation, together with attention to the sterility of the collecting vessels, results in a bacteriologically safe product that retains many of the protective properties of raw milk.