Temperature control

Exposing food to high heat for a sufficiently long period of time reduces the natural population of bacterial spoilers and kills microbes that otherwise may make you sick. For example, pasteurization (heating milk or other liquids such as fruit juice to 145 to 154.4 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes) kills nearly all disease-causing and most other bacteria, as does high-temperature, short-time pasteurization (161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds).

Chilling also protects food. It works by slowing the rate of microbial reproduction. For example:

  • Milk refrigerated at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or lower may stay fresh for almost a week because the cold prevents organisms that survived pasteurization from reproducing.
  • Fresh chicken frozen to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower may remain safe for up to 12 months (whole) or 9 months (cut up).
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