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Understanding The Facts And Facets of Pasteurization

Quite recently, ever since the nineteenth century, people risked crucial illness and even death by drinking liquids like juice, water, and milk. In comparison to the earlier process of consuming liquids, beverages today comprise a long shelf life. Kudos to the pasteurization process, which was named by Louis Pasteur, the French scientist of the nineteenth century!

An Introduction to Pasteurization

Pasteurization is the method by which dairy products and juice get heated mildly to annihilate harmful salmonella, bacteria, and any disease-causing pathogen. After the pasteurization process, the products become safe for consumption. Unpasteurized food like raw milk might be safe for consumption, but it’s for a shorter time frame.

Pasteurization has revolutionized food safety within the dairy industry. With that, pasteurization of milk has become mandatory. It’s the process of heating the milk to a specific temperature and time to kill pathogens found in raw milk. These microorganisms like bacteria may promote harmful diseases in the body. And there’s no denying the fact that raw milk contains pathogens like Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Listeria, to mention a few. Raw milk is the milk from cows, sheep, goats, and other dairy animals.

Lawfully, milk sold to the public must initially get pasteurized and packaged in the licensed plant. Vitamins A and D should get added to the milk, and no other preservatives or additives should legally get added to the milk. As for the health benefit, Vitamin A improves your eyesight and vision in dim light or at night. Additionally, and helps you identify different colors. On the other hand, Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and reduces osteoporosis risks.

Invention of Pasteurization

French chemist Louis Pasteur, in 1864, conducted a set of experimentations that demonstrated the antimicrobial impacts of heating wine. And by heating newly manufactured wine to the 60 C (140 F) temperature for a shorter time frame, Pasteur killed the pathogenic bacteria that otherwise were present in that liquid. He deactivated some enzymes causing early spoilage. Before Pasteur, there were multiple incidences of exposing the wine to high-temperature environments, more significantly as the mode to extend the shelf life.

Working Method of Pasteurization

Although Pasteur experimented only with wine, Franz von Soxhlet (German chemist) proposed milk pasteurization in the year 1886. And by 1912, Milton Rosenau(public health official of America) established certain standards for the low-temperature pasteurization – slow heating at around 60 C for a total of 20 minutes.

Pasteurization temperatures and time depend on pasteurized food’s chemical composition. However, seldom does pasteurization need a product to get heated above 100 C. Nonetheless, UHT or ultra-high-temperature pasteurization heats the milk to 135 C for 2-5 seconds. The period of heat can kill almost all bacterial spores in dairy products. Dairy going through UHT treatment gets labeled as ultra-pasteurized. It includes multiple organic milk brands.

Outlining The Difference Between Pasteurization and Homogenization in Milk

Pasteurization and homogenization often go hand-in-hand when it comes to milk production. However, both the procedures get differently markedly:

Homogenization works evenly for distributing milk fat globules throughout the whole container. It includes forcing milk through the strainers at a high-pressure level. Nonetheless, unlike the process of pasteurization, it doesn’t involve the process of heating milk.

In the process, pasteurization comes only after homogenization. It encompasses raising the liquid to a high temperature for a shorter time frame.

Methods for Milk Pasteurization

The following are the methods for milk pasteurization:

●     HTST or High-Temperature Short Time Pasteurization

It’s flash pasteurization, which involves heating the milk for 15 seconds to 71.7°C. It kills Coxiella Burnetii and is the most heat-resistant pathogen in raw milk. It’s impossible to bring milk to the exact temperature, so working with different ranges of temperatures might be a safer bet. Moreover, it can be possible to heat milk between 72°C and 74°C for 15-20 seconds with the help of milk pasteurizers. It ensures that milk gets heated uniformly. The method is suitable in the continuous systems of pasteurization. Flash pasteurized milk keeps from 16 to 21 days. Considering commercial purposes, manufacturers intentionally reduce days to push products out of shelves.

●     LTLT or Low-Temperature Long Time pasteurization

In this process, the temperature gets reduced for pasteurization to 63°C for 30 minutes. The prolonged period alters the milk proteins structure and makes them better for manufacturing yogurt.

The method is great for batch pasteurization, where milk gets held in a jacketed vat. Manu designs concerning batch pasteurizers are suitable for both commercial and domestic usage.

●     UHT and Ultra-High Temperature Pasteurization

It’s the closed pasteurization process. This product does not get exposed for a fraction of a second during the process. It includes heating cream or milk between 135°C and 150°C for 1-2seconds. Upon then, it must get chilled immediately in the hermetic container for storage. UHT still pasteurization remains a popular milk preservation method for stable and safe milk.

What Happens If The Milk or Food Products Are Unpasteurized?

The outbreaks resulting from unpasteurized milk or products are greater than the outbreaks associated with pasteurized milk. Younger adults and children suffered the most and got affected by dangerous ailments. The reason why unpasteurized milk is unhealthy is that raw milk comprises pathogens that cause illness.

Although some people may say that they have survived on raw milk in their childhood, public healthcare authorities have cases where people got sick from drinking such type of milk. With the newer trends in the farming industry, compulsory milk pasteurization has eliminated outbreaks of milk-borne severe diseases. But even amidst technological revolutions in this industry, outbreaks from raw milk still occur. This reminds the world about the hazards pertaining to drinking raw milk.

But who gets sick of drinking unpasteurized milk is still questionable. It may be anyone, from infants to children, seniors, pregnant women, and even people suffering from chronic ailments. According to the reports, children and infants are mostly at a greater risk because they drink a higher amount of milk when compared to other individuals.

An Endnote

After outlining the intriguing and important facts concerning Pasteurization, it can be concluded that it’s a mandatory and primarily the most effective process to make dairy and other liquid products safe by destroying vegetative pathogenic organisms.

Photo by Flash Dantz on Unsplash

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