What is pasteurization? …

Written by Eric Ulchakere

May 20, 2020

All I knew (before writing this) about pasteurization was that it makes milk safer to drink, and that the French don’t pasteurize their cheese. I was curious about what pasteurization actually meant, so I did some research! I think knowing about processes so important in the food we consume is a way to become more in touch overall with the food we put in our bodies…so here we go!

Interestingly, the word “pasteurization” comes from Louis Pasteur, the French man who first realized that there were microorganisms in food that caused the food to go bad or be otherwise inedible.

Did you know? Louis Pasteur basically saved the wine and beer industry in France because he figured out that bringing the liquids to a heat as to kill off the microbes, extending the shelf life of the drinks!

Pasteurization, then, is the “heat-treatment process that destroys pathogenic microorganisms in certain foods and beverages.” The process protects the quality of the food or beverage, while extending the amount of time the product is able to be consumed.

The pasteurization of dairy products is widely practiced in the United States, but it isn’t as legally compulsive in other places of the the world. In Europe, the use of raw-milk is considered traditional, so banning the usage would be to effectively destroy that part of European heritage. In order to preserve flexibility within the European Union, there are very basic regulations the member countries must instate, but they are welcome to instate stricter rules if they chose to. (This is in large part due to France, because they have a very rich culture of eating traditional cheese!)

In conclusion, the process of pasteurization makes food generally safer and able to be consumed for a longer period of time, but people still appreciate being able to eat traditionally made food, even if doing so might have some dangers.


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