Busta, Francis F. Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
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The treatment of foods or beverages with mild heat, irradiation, or chemical agents to improve keeping quality or to inactivate disease-causing microorganisms. Originally, Louis Pasteur observed that spoilage of wine and beer could be prevented by heating them a few minutes at 122–140°F (50–60°C). Today pasteurization as a thermal treatment is applied to many foods, including liquid eggs, crab, fruit juices, pickles, sauerkraut, smoked fish, beer, wine, and dairy products. In foods consumed directly, destruction of pathogens to protect consumer health is paramount, while in products without public health hazards, control of spoilage microorganisms is primary. In fermentation processes, the raw material may be pasteurized to eliminate microorganisms that produce abnormal end products, or the final product may be heated to stop the fermentation at the desired level. In many cases, such as with some dairy products, mild heat treatments may be utilized for all of these purposes.
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