Background:Holder pasteurization (milk held at 62.5°C for 30 minutes) is the standard treatment method for donor human milk. Although this method of pasteurization is able to inactivate most bacteria, it also inactivates important bioactive components. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate ultraviolet irradiation as an alternative treatment method for donor human milk.Methods:Human milk samples were inoculated with five species of bacteria and then UV-C irradiated. Untreated and treated samples were analysed for bacterial content, bile salt stimulated lipase (BSSL) activity, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, and fatty acid profile.Results:All five species of bacteria reacted similarly to UV-C irradiation, with higher dosages being required with increasing concentrations of total solids in the human milk sample. The decimal reduction dosage was 289±17 and 945±164 J/l for total solids of 107 and 146 g/l, respectively. No significant changes in the fatty acid profile, BSSL activity or ALP activity were observed up to the dosage required for a 5-log10 reduction of the five species of bacteria.Conclusion:UV-C irradiation is capable of reducing vegetative bacteria in human milk to the requirements of milk bank guidelines with no loss of BSSL and ALP activity and no change of FA. © 2013 Christen et al.