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Pasteurization: What It Means and How It Changes Food

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-pasteurization-4177326

thoughtco.com

Pasteurization: What It Means and How It Changes Food
Here's what pasteurization is, its history, its effectiveness, and how it changes characteristics of food.

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Pasteurization

Pasteurization
  • It is the process of applying low heat to kill pathogens and extend shelf life of food and beverage products.
  • The process does not eliminate bacterial spores, so it doesn't truly sterilizes products.
  • Pasteurization earlier use was to improve the flavor or food and beverages but not it's primarily for food safety.
  • It greatly reduces risk of food poisoning.

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The Process of Pasteurization

  • The process is dependent on the nature of the product and whether it is packaged or not.
  • Liquids and products packaged in plastic and metal containers can be pasteurized either through steam or hot water.
  • Packaged food in glass containers can be pasteurized too by using hot water with the consideration of the glass's breaking point.
  • The temperature and duration of the process of pasteurization are delicately controlled.

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The Discovery of Pasteurization

  • In 1864, Louis Pasteur developed the technique to heat wine before aging it to kill microbes and reduce its acidity. Hence, the name pasteurization.
  • However, the process itself has been around way before Louis Pasteur. It was popularly used in China to preserve wine in 1117AD.
  • The main reason why it is named in his honor is due to his research that pointed towards microorganisms as the culprit for spoilage and disease that led to the Germ Theory of Disease.

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What Pasteurization Does to Food

  • As it reduces the risk of food poisoning and extends shelf life, it, however, affects the texture, flavor, and nutritional value of certain food;
  • It affects several vitamins such as vitamin A concentration increases, while the concentration of vitamin B2 decreases;
  • It may cause softening of tissues on vegetables, nutrient changes - some increasing and some diminishing;
  • It loses some aroma compounds for fruit juices and reduces vitamin C and carotene.

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Pasteurizing Milk

Milk offers a place where numerous pathogens grow and increase in numbers, including those that may cause tuberculosis, scarlet fever, E. coli, and more.

Before pasteurization, raw milk has been many milk-related diseases and deaths; only after the pasteurization process was introduced, milk-related diseases dropped drastically.

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Recent Advances of Pasteurization

It now is able to disinfect food and inactivate soilage enzymes without significantly diminishing nutrient levels, this includes both thermal and non-thermal processes.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Fresh food nutrients

Fresh food nutrients

Food is most nutritious at the point of harvest. After that, fresh produce starts degrading.

Once picked, that fruit or veg is using its own nutrients to keep its cells alive. Vitamin C fou...

Refrigerating produce

Refrigeration slows down the process of nutrition degradation. The nutritional loss varies from product to product.

Spinach loses 100% of its vitamin C content in seven days at room temperature and 75% if refrigerated. Carrots lose 27% of their vitamin C content when stored at room temperature for a week.

However, when vegetables are frozen, including spinach, they lose significantly less vitamin C, because freezing pauses the process of oxidization.

Frozen foods nutrients

As soon as produce is harvested, it's a nutritional race against time.

Frozen produce has one problem: before it's frozen, it's blanched - heating food up for a few minutes at high temperatures to inactivate enzymes that degrade texture and color. Blanching also reduces nutrient content.

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There is no "best diet"

The “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. 

That can be with or without seafood; with or...

Best foods don’t have labels

Because they are just one ingredient: avocado, lentils, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

The "Age" of vegetables

The best vegetables are likely to be fresh and locally sourced, but flash frozen is nearly as good (as freezing delays aging). Those “fresh” vegetables that spend a long time in storage or transit are probably the least nutritious.

Understanding how long food lasts

Understanding how long food lasts

Should humanity face a nuclear apocalypse of worldwide war, we need to understand which foods might be safe for survivors to eat, and how long the foods will last.

To understand this, we ne...

Why foods go bad

Most foods spoil because of the growth of microbes. Preserving food is an attempt to limit microbial growth. Food can be preserved by drying, salting, chilling, or storing in air-tight containers.

  • Drying is the most effective because microbial growth is inhibited.
  • Salting is effective because it removes moisture, creating an environment where microbes cannot survive.
  • Sugar coating can prevent bacterial cells from functioning correctly.
  • Storing in air-tight containers is less effective because there are probably a lot of microbes on the food before you put it in the container. Some microbes are anaerobic, meaning they don't need oxygen.

Food preservatives

Preservatives are used in foods to extend their shelf lives. One of McDonald's Big Mac in Iceland is an example of a long-lasting processed food. It has been on display since 2009, in a glass box. Preservatives that has been discontinued by McDonald's are:

  • calcium propionate that prevents mold growth on bread.
  • sorbic acid that also inhibits mold from cheese
  • sodium benzoate, which inhibits the growth of bacteria in the Big Mac special sauce.