New approaches are needed to quickly indicate possible contamination of UHT milk, among them the technique of ATP-Bioluminescence. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the results of culture methods with the results of ATP-Bioluminescence technique of 102 UHT whole milk samples incubated at 48, 72, and 168 hours. UHT milk samples were analyzed for the presence of mesophilic and psychrotrophic aerobic microorganisms using Plate Count Agar (PCA), Brain-Heart Infusion (BHI) media and PetrifilmTM Aerobic Count (AC) plates. The ATP-Bioluminescence technique was applied through the Microbial Luminescent Screening (MLS) system. Significant correlations were found between counts of aerobic mesophilic microorganisms on PCA, PetrifilmTM AC, BHI and results of ATP bioluminescence technique (P≤0.05). The ATP-Bioluminescence technique had higher correlation with counting method in PCA than BHI media. At lower pass/fail limits of Relative Light Units (60, 50, 45 and 40 RLU), the number of samples identified as positive increased and statistically agreed with aerobic mesophilic microorganism counts (P>0.05). For the dairy industry, the ATP-Bioluminescence technique may become an important tool that assists the official methods to quickly monitor the microbiological quality of UHT milk though this will likely require a threshold below 150 RLU.
ATP-Bioluminescence; microbiology; milk; quality; UHT