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Pasteurization is the process of killing bacteria in foods by application of heat. Milk, for example, is quickly heated to a near boiling temperature, then quickly cooled again before the taste and other desirable properties are affected (heating milk for 30 minutes at 60C (140F), kills, for example, tuberculosis bacteria without damaging the milk protein). Some bacteria remain after pasteurization and so it has to be distinguished from sterilization. The goal of pasteurization is to get rid of pathogenic bacteria and to reduce drastically the amount of bacteria responsible for the degradation of the product extending in so doing its longevity.

The process was named after its inventor, French scientist Louis Pasteur. The first pasteurization test was completed by Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard on April 20, 1862.

The term cold pasteurization is used sometimes for the use of radioactivity to kill bacteria in food.

Products that can be pasteurized :

See also: dairy products, Unpasteurized milk.