Volatile sulfur compounds in pasteurised and UHT milk during storage

Zahir Al-Attabi, Bruce R. D'Arcy, Hilton C. Deeth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Cooked or sulfurous off-flavour caused by volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) limits acceptance of ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk in some parts of the world. Therefore, the concentrations of VSCs in UHT milk over 16 weeks of storage were studied and compared with those in pasteurised milk. The major VSCs contributing to the cooked flavour were identified using solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography with pulsed flame photometric detection. Nine VSCs were detected in commercial indirectly processed UHT skim and whole milk. These were hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, methanethiol, dimethyl sulfide, carbon disulfide, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl sulfoxide, dimethyl sulfone and dimethyl trisulfide. An additional VSC was detected but not identified. The concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, methanthiol, dimethyl sulfide and dimethyl trisulfide were initially higher than their reported threshold values indicating their importance in milk flavour, especially cooked flavour. However, they decreased slowly during storage to levels below their threshold values. This decrease corresponded to a decrease in dissolved oxygen level. Four VSCs, carbon disulfide, dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl sulfoxide and dimethyl disulfide, were detected in pasteurised milk; however, their concentrations were lower than their reported threshold values. This paper puts into perspective the significance of VSCs in the flavour of UHT and pasteurised milk, both initially and during storage, and indicates the period of storage for minimisation of cooked flavour in UHT milk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-253
Number of pages13
JournalDairy Science and Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • Milk
  • Pulsed flame photometric detector
  • Solid-phase microextraction
  • Volatile sulfur compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Volatile sulfur compounds in pasteurised and UHT milk during storage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this