Take a tour of our new facility as we go through the process of receiving, pasteurizing, and storing donated milk — all in our on-site lab.
Our reception area. Thanks to the many wonderful mothers have come through here!
Our current Lab. Our expanded HMBANA-approved lab houses working surfaces, ice machine and commercial dishwasher.
Receiving: Mothers who donate milk are given strict guidelines on how to express and store their milk safely. It arrives frozen, and is stored until ready for processing. The milk is defrosted in the milk bank refrigerator the night before processing.
Prep: Each member of the pasteurization team thoroughly scrubs their hands and arms with antimicrobial soap before donning gloves. Gloves are always worn when handling human milk as part of the pasteurization process.
Transfer: Once milk is defrosted, it is carefully transferred from the milk storage containers to glass containers.
Homogenizing: The milk is homogenized by pouring it into large glass flasks and gently swirling to blend. The milk goes through six rounds of pouring and swirling until it is thoroughly blended. This helps assure that the milk components are distributed evenly.
Storage: The milk is then poured into sturdy, sterile 100ml containers with sealable caps.
Setup: Milk is arranged in special water bath trays for pasteurization.
Pasteurization: Milk is pasteurized in a "shaking water bath" or human milk pasteurizer. The milk is gently heated using the Holder Method of pasteurization. This process rapidly heats and agitates the milk, holding the temperature at 62.5°C for 30 minutes. This process eliminates bacteria while retaining the majority of the milk’s beneficial components.
Cooling: The milk is then rapidly cooled in a chilled ice slurry until the temperature drops to 4°C.
Freezing: The chilled milk is then immediately placed in industrial freezers for storage until dispensed to hospital NICUs.
Testing: Milk samples are sent to be cultured and to analyze the nutritional content of the milk. No milk is dispensed until negative test results are received. If bacterial growth is found, the milk is discarded. The milk bank keeps very careful records to ensure that every bottle can be tracked from donor to recipient.