One of the common methods used to process food substances is pasteurization. The process makes use of intense heat to destroy certain microorganisms from food substances. Temperatures below 100 degrees centigrade are applied to selected food samples so that certain harmful microorganisms can be destroyed.
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In terms of benefits, pasteurization does not generate significant amount of unpleasant cooked flavor after the process has been completed. In other words, the natural flavor of a food substance is not remarkably altered because no chemical additives are required during the heating process. When some of the harmful micro-organisms are removed from food substances, the shelf life of the processed products is significantly increased. A small number of bacteria cannot lead to rapid spoilage of food substances. As a matter of fact, the application of heat to a given sample of food destroys a number of harmful disease-causing organisms.
The second benefit of pasteurization is witnessed in the deactivation of enzymes that are found in various food substances. For example, milk is well endowed with enzymes like lipase and phosphatase. These enzymes usually lower the overall quality of milk. It is only the process of pasteurization that can lower the activity level of the enzymes. Milk products that are free from lipase and phosphatase are more competitive than raw milk. Better still, pasteurized milk has a higher market value than the non-pasteurized milk.
Pasteurization is a rather complex process that demands strict monitoring. This implies that the process is costly both in terms of acquisition of the necessary equipment and hiring professional skills and competences to run the equipment. As a result, pasteurized products are generally costly because the processor undergoes additional charges of eliminating harmful micro-organisms from the given food samples. Although the process has been deemed to be efficient in converting raw milk into a finished product, it cannot be used to process other products. The technology is designed to process raw milk only. This limitation may lead to a serious economic implication especially on the part of food processors because different processing plants have to be put in place for different products.
Although harmful bacteria and pathogens are killed in the process of pasteurization, there are key nutrients in milk that are significantly destroyed or completely eliminated. Hence, pasteurization tends to lower the nutritional level of the processed milk products. It is understood that whole milk has several healthy nutrients required by the human body. Such nutrients are definitely removed alongside the bad bacteria and pathogens during the pasteurization process. As much as some harmful pathogens are separated from raw milk during pasteurization, the process cannot guarantee total safety. Since pasteurization equipment requires a very high level of hygiene standards, it is still possible for pathogens and bacteria to be transferred to the finished and processed products especially if there is laxity in sanitation.
From the above benefits and weaknesses of pasteurization as a means of processing raw milk, it can be concluded that the process offers one of the most efficient methods of killing harmful organisms. In addition, the process can be improved on a regular basis especially in regards to sanitation and the presence of skilled and professional labor force. On the other hand, pasteurization technology is only applied when processing raw milk. Other products cannot be processed using this technology. Besides, pasteurization may spoil or completely eliminate crucial nutrients that are present in whole milk.