Pasteurization

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Pasteurization is a process of heat-treatment named for the scientist, Louis pasteur. He first explored its efficacy when investigating microbial spoilage in the wines of his native Arbois in the Jura, in 1866. Although palates at the time were content that pasteurization altered neither taste nor bouquet, the technique has not gained much purchase in the wine world, while being generally adopted in the dairy and the kitchen.

The process is described under milk. This was not an innovation undertaken by Pasteur himself, but rather was proposed by Franz von Soxhlet in 1886. While not dismissing the arguments of supporters of raw milk, pasteurization was of immense significance in rendering milk the universal and safe commodity it has since become. The New Zealand government cites figures even today that claim untreated milk to be responsible for ‘three times more hospitalizations than any other foodborne source’.