Pasteurized foods are safer for people with low immunity, because pasteurization kills most of the harmful pathogens in foods at risk. Unfortunately, while this looked like a great finding a few decades ago, newer findings suggest that consuming unpasteurized foods and drinks might be healthier on the long term. In fact, the discoverers of the pasteurization, the French, consider that raw foods are of a better quality than pasteurized foods. While in Europe pasteurization is a strong recommendation for food processing factories, in North America is an obligation.
Pasteurization is a great help for industrial food processing, because contamination is more likely to happen in these cases. But the biggest advantage of pasteurization, and one of the reasons is so important for the big companies, is that it extends the shelf life. In fact big packaging factories cannot survive without pasteurization. In their effort to extend the shelf life of products, big corporations have invented the ultra-pasteurization, which is an abomination.
Raw foods, although carry a slightly higher contamination risk, are better for our health. They contain nutrients in a bioavailable form, that are easier to digest, and are natural healing elements. They contain enzymes to help our body digest and absorb properly the vitamins and nutrients an foods. Pasteurization, although makes food a little safer to consume, will destroy all the enzymes, and will transform many of the nutrients in less digestible variants, or destroy a big percentage of vitamins.
The Risks of Raw Food
There is always a risk to for infection when eating raw foods. Depending on the food, the contaminants can range from Listeria to E. Coli, and Salmonella, (and other pathogens). Note that if the food is properly handled, sanitary measures are employed, and farming is done properly, (avoid overpopulation, properly feed livestock, etc), the risks are very low, almost as low as with pasteurized food.
Fermentation Reduces the Risk of Food Contamination
One method to kill dangerous contaminants such as E. Coli is to ferment the food. Here is an article that points that fermented cucumbers brine kills E Coli. Yogurt and kefir also kill harmful bacteria. Basically, all food processed through lacto-fermentation kills most of the pathogens in foods. If you see pasteurized sour pickles in the store, you know that the pasteurization is merely for extending the shelf life, and not for making the food safer.
Fermented drinks however, like hard cider, do not have the same ability to kill pathogens, unless they are let to ferment past the palatable levels. But then, on the same concept, we should not eat fruits because they are not pasteurized.
There is a raw milk movement in North America, and people who tried it say that it changed their life. Obviously, there is slightly a higher risk of getting sick when drinking raw milk, but people still do it.
Pasteurized Foods List
Here is a list with most commonly pasteurized foods that can be safely consumed unpasteurized.
- Sour Cream
- Ice cream
- Nuts in general
- Fruit Juices or Cider
- Commercial Sourpickles
- Eggs and Egg Beaters
- Lemon juice
- Lobster meat
- Crab meat