Pasteurization Lesson for Kids: Definition & Process

Instructor: Tawnya Eash

Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.

Think about what you drink. Do you enjoy a glass of chocolate milk, milk with cereal, or apple juice with breakfast? In this lesson, you are going to learn about pasteurization and how it is kills harmful bacteria in products you eat and drink.

What is Pasteurization?

What do you think the equipment in this image might be used for?

Milk-Processing Equipment
Processing Milk

It actually makes milk and other products safer for you to consume, which means to eat or drink something.

Milk, juices, and other common foods go through the process of pasteurization before they are consumed. Pasteurization is the process where harmful bacteria are killed in foods and liquids.

The pathogenic bacteria in liquids and foods cause infections in humans. Many years ago, people could get really sick or even die from diseases caused by these bacteria.

Thankfully, a French scientist by the name of Louis Pasteur invented a process that killed off harmful bacteria without affecting the nutrients in the foods.

So, what products are pasteurized? This chart includes a list of common foods and liquids.

Commonly Pasteurized Products

Let's take a look at the process.

How Does Pasteurization Work?

Imagine drinking a nice cold glass of juice or milk. You may prefer apple juice, chocolate milk, or something else. The process of pasteurization allows each product to keep its color and nutrients while killing bacteria. It also serves as a way for large quantities of a product to last for many days before being consumed.

Let's take a look at the different methods of pasteurization.

Liquid Pasteurization

Vat or Batch Pasteurization

This type of pasteurization is the easiest and oldest method of pasteurizing milk. Milk is heated in a large container for 30 minutes at 154.4 degrees Fahrenheit. It needs constant stirring to heat evenly.

High-Temperature, Short-Time Treatment (HTST)

This method, also called flash pasteurization, is the most commonly used. In this process, a high temperature is used for a short amount of time. This kills the harmful bacteria while keeping the necessary nutrients.

Examples using this type of pasteurization include:

  • Milk: heated at 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds
  • Juices

Low-Temperature, Long-Time Treatment (LTLT)

This process is the opposite of HTST. It uses lower heat for a longer period of time to kill bacteria.

Examples include:

  • Milk: heated at 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes


In this method, milk and cream are heated to 280 degrees or more for two or more seconds. They can last for about 60 to 90 days when refrigerated before they are opened.

Ultra-High Temperature Pasteurization (UHT)

This is very similar to ultrapasteurization except the method of storage is different. The milk or cream is heated at 280 to 302 degrees Fahrenheit for one to two seconds. It's then packaged in airtight containers so it does need to be refrigerated until after 90 days, providing it's not opened.

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