How an Attempt to Save the French Wine Industry Changed the World Forever


Humans have been consuming animal milk products
since at least 7,500 years ago, despite not widely developing the gene mutation to properly
digest milk outside of childhood until around a thousand years later. The gene that facilitates the production of
lactase in the human body, necessary for processing the lactose in milk- see our video What Causes
Lactose Intolerance, typically gets switched off in adolescence. Thanks to the rise of dairy as a significant
nutrition source, initially largely in cheese and yogurt-type substances that could be widely
consumed due to low lactose content and had better shelf life, those who had a genetic
quirk allowing them to produce lactase into adulthood flourished, and this mutation quickly
spread throughout a relatively large percentage of the human population over the centuries. By 4,000 BCE, a dairy economy existed in central
Europe, Asia and ancient Egypt, and with it came disease. Sicknesses resulting from tainted food have
a long history of being an equal opportunity killer. There’s speculation that Alexander the Great
died of Salmonella resulting from tainted water, food or, possibly, milk. King Henry I of England may have died from
eating bad eels. Scholars think that the first Jamestown settlement
may have withered away thanks to a Salmonella outbreak. “Milk Sickness,” resulting from drinking
the milk of a cow that has eaten the plant White Snakeroot, killed Abraham Lincoln’s
mother. President Zachary Taylor could have died from
drinking iced milk. Point being, food-related illness was a rather
common occurrence prior to Pasteur’s innovation, especially milk specific ones. Due to its organic and nutrient rich nature,
milk is one of the most susceptible liquids to this and only pasteurized milk is considered
safe by the FDA, much to the chagrin of raw milk enthusiasts. However, there is good reason for concern
here. Even with modern best practices, it’s impossible
to produce sterile milk and from flora of the teat canal or udder to fecal soiling to
water used to clean the milking equipment, various microbes will find their way into
the milk, not all of them harmless. For centuries, milk borne illnesses, from
tuberculosis to salmonella, typhoid fever, diphtheria, and many others, killed millions
of people every year. Even as recently as the early 20th century,
cow milk was responsible for approximately one quarter of all food borne illnesses. In contrast, today, largely thanks to strict
pasteurization processes on commercially sold milk, only about 3 people die from milk-related
sickness per year in the United States. So how did Pasteur come up with his momentous
innovation? In 1854, Pasteur joined the University of
Lille as professor and dean of the science faculty. It was here that Pasteur first took up the
problem of alcoholic drinks turning sour. In 1856, after being commissioned by the father
of one of his students, M. Bigot, to discover what was ruining a certain beet root alcohol,
Pasteur examined samples under the microscope and discovered not only spherical yeasts,
but also a rod-shaped microorganism, Acetobacter aceti, which it turns out converts alcohol
to acetic acid. Methodically and systematically experimenting
with both lactic and alcoholic fermentation, Pasteur concluded that fermentation was not
the result of a spontaneous generation of chemical reactions by enzymes (the then-majority
view), but rather the work of these microorganisms. In 1857, Pasteur returned to the École Normale
as director of scientific studies and continued his research on the problem. Notably, on April 20, 1862, he completed his
first test of boiling and then cooling wine to kill the souring bacteria. At about this time, Emperor Napoleon III commissioned
Pasteur to save the entire French wine industry, which had become overrun by “diseases”
that caused the wine to be sour or bitter. In about 1863, Pasteur inspected a variety
of wineries and came to the conclusion that “there may not be a single winery in France,
whether rich or poor, where some portions of the wine have not suffered greater or lesser
alteration.” Continuing his research into heating the liquid,
Pasteur, who patented his heating and cooling process in 1865, discovered that the wine
could be saved from souring and the original flavor preserved by heating it to a mere 50-60
degrees Celsius or 122-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Quickly adopted by the wine industry, the
general pasteurization process was not widely applied to milk until many years later, to
the doom of millions. It should be noted, however, that like nearly
every innovation, Louis Pasteur did not discover this process in a vacuum. As with almost every apparent giant leap forward,
closer examination almost always reveals centuries of gradual progress and forward steps towards
this revelation. For instance, some historians believe that
a process similar to pasteurization may have existed as far back as 11th century China. In an attempt to preserve wine, the Chinese
would fill hot clay jars with fresh wine, cover with leaves, seal with mud and, then,
bury in the cool soil. The first documented process of pasteurization
(even though it wasn’t called that at the time) was in 16th century Japan in regards
to soy sauce. In order to ship it to Europe without it spoiling
before it got there, the Japanese devised a process of boiling it in an iron pot, funneling
it into bottles and immediately sealing them. Even immediately prior to Pasture, there were
a number of European scientists who helped pave the path to discovery. An Italian priest and scientist named Lazzaro
Spallanzani realized that “a significant degree of heat” could be used to kill microbes,
then reappearance could be prevented by “hermetically sealing” the jar (as opposed to cork, “which
is very porous”). Parisian chef Nicolas Appert won a cash prize
from the French military for his work in providing safe, boiled, hermetically-sealed jars of
preserved food to the army. Using the money, he opened the world’s first
food bottling factory in 1812, where he canned and boiled all types of food (including milk). His method consisted of boiling the glass
bottle in much hotter water and for much longer time that Pasture would later deem necessary. Due to this, the preserved food would often
have its taste altered and the glass bottles sometimes broke. A few years later, Englishman Peter Durand
devised an iron can with a thin layer of tin around the exterior that could withstand the
boiling process better. While Spallanzani, Appert and Durand all understand
this worked, they didn’t really understand the nuts and bolts of why. In 1862, Louis Pasteur answered this question. While the science behind pasteurization may
have been relatively unknown in the mid-19th century, a basic understanding of biology
helps explain it. Bacteria are single-celled organisms with
a cell envelope, the cytoplasm (stuff inside of the cell like ribosomes, chromosomes, enzymes,
etc.) and the flagella (the part that allows the cells to attach to other things). When the temperature gets hot enough, the
enzymes inside of the cytoplasm chemically change shape and are no longer able to work
properly. This essentially makes the entire cell unable
to function. Heat can also destroy the cell envelope, which
further damages the cells. Once the offending cells are dead, it is just
as important to make sure nothing can enter back in. That’s why jars, cans and anything pasteurized
needs to be hermetically sealed or refrigerated (which doesn’t kill cells, but slows their
growth) immediately after being heated for maximal shelf life. As with other product, the pasteurization
process in milk is specifically tweaked to kill most offending bacteria in the liquid,
though to preserve flavor, the milk is typically not heated high enough to kill all microbes
and occasionally post-pasteurization contamination also occurs. Since the milk is not hermetically sealed,
these microbes still happily feed on things in the milk and multiply. Refrigerating it simply slows this process
down, but doesn’t prevent it. When milk goes bad (turns sour), it means
that enough bacteria has grown in it to ferment a certain amount of the lactose, which cause
the sour smell. While slightly spoiled previously pasteurized
milk won’t taste good and could make one sick, the smell usually comes prior to the
milk being really harmful and, potentially, deadly, so this is rarely an issue. In the century and a half since Pasteur made
his discovery, pasteurization of milk and many other liquids and foods has saved literally
many millions of lives, altering human history since in unknown ways. Who knows- given the large number of lives
saved in the interim, if not for this process, one of your direct ancestors may not have
existed, and hence, neither would you.

100 thoughts on “How an Attempt to Save the French Wine Industry Changed the World Forever

  1. The real saviour for the wine industry was the production of Thunderbird wine. $2 buck chuck. Now it's like $5 if you want to get good and f♡ckered up drink it?🍷

  2. I drank wine from Thomas Jefferson's vineyard. 1803 $750 per glass at the same function I drank his brandy. The brandy had a kick.

  3. Simon I have a question for you Player. Why does sour cream have an expiration date? Answer that Mr. Know it All

  4. Humans are the only species that regularly drinks the milk of another mammalian species. And the human, with only slight exceptions, is the only species that continues to drink milk after weaning, on into adulthood. Milk is meant to be a complete food, designed specifically to serve the early growth of the mammalian offspring. It isn't meant to be continued as a staple once the offspring is capable of eating solid food. This is why the mammary glands "dry up" after a certain period of time. On another point, it has been shown that some growth hormones (mostly removed from USA milk products) have the effect of creating early-onset puberty in children, with its attendant growth issues.

  5. "…One of your direct ancestors would not have existed and, well, neither would you." This Louise Pasture guy is an asshole. I had no wish to exist.

  6. Toodle pip tally ho knees up mother brown bit of the ol' rumpy pumpy old bean what-oh chaps apples and pears me old china

  7. There is also a type of milk called "ultra-pasteurized". It is heated to a high temperature, presumably to kill ALL bacteria in the milk. Instead of being refrigerated, it is sold in boxes which are on grocery store shelves. It has a shelf life of months. The taste is quite good, and I prefer it to straight pasteurized milk. Posslbly worth a video.

  8. I really enjoy your videos but your speed and rhythm of speaking makes me often avoid your videos. I am sure that I cannot be the first to tell you this. I can imagine that this leads to a significant reduction in your viewers. You sound like like someone trying desperately for an Oscar when all required is a common speed and cadence.

  9. Okay but if we weren’t able to digest it properly and it got us sick more often than not why the frick were we still consuming it?!?!?!??!

  10. I'm starting to notice a pattern in history:

    Europe: "Hey we discovered this thing!"

    Ancient China: "Oh hey, nice you could finally catch up."

  11. Pasteurization might have lowered "milk-related sickness", but it also had the greater affect of lowering the effective nutritional value of the milk to a degree that reduced overall health of the milk-saturated population. Perfect example of not sharing the bigger picture…. Raw milk is much better for you.

  12. When talking about milk production safety. You should really give a shout out to Al Capone. Another alcohol/milk tie in. They just seem inextricably linked throughout history. Don't they.

  13. There are different methods. On pasteurization one use 72 degrees for 15-30 seconds. It lasts 6-12 days. With ESL treatment one rises the temperature briefly to about 127 degrees. ESL milk lasts unopened for four weeks or so. With UHF one uses at least 135 degrees for 2-5 seconds. Such a milk lasts months in room temperature but there is an effect on the taste. Sterilized milk is treated at 110-120 degrees for 10-30 minutes ans it can last up to a year.

  14. My take on inventor's fame: If you do something without knowing WHY, you're just following traditions. The one who finds out what causes the desired effect and ideally optimizes the process is the main man in the long line of contributors!

  15. why do patients who have had a gastric bypass become lactose intolerant and/or have no burning sensation from drinking strong alcohol after their surgery?

  16. 22 people don't like this video??? I did npt know. That people living Under a Rock had the Internet. Go Fig. HA!!!! Great Vid.!!!!

  17. I have a friend who is a bit of a wizard mechanically, he can fix pretty much anything. He introduced me to the saying "heat is your friend", in regard to mechanical repairs such as freeing stuck fasteners and assemblies.

    In this video, and remembering my wife's canning of produce, I see the biological aspect of "heat is your friend".

  18. Simon, I have been drinking raw milk my whole life, and continue to do so, every day.

    Please explain how it is that I am not dead.

  19. Your facts are not accurate. The FDA allows the sale of unpasteurized raw milk in Sprouts grocery stores but only in California as of now.

  20. Holy crap there is a weird plant growing outside my porch an I asked my dad what it was today and he says it’s a white snakeroot it’s full of poison.go figure.lol.

  21. "oh, a new Today I Found Out video, lemme grab my milk and snack before bed and watch it!"

    (90 seconds in)

    "veganism sounds nice"

  22. My mother told of her getting milk from a neighbor who had a cow. They had no means of preserving the raw milk, so when it started to go off, her mother would add vanilla extract to it to mask the flavor. Good times in the 1930s.

  23. ok i love your videos but i would just like to point out that this video makes it seem like pasteurization is saving all of us living in developed countries from dying from milk born illnesses. However, in developed countries today, the hygiene of milking is so good that raw milk is completely safe. I know lots of people in the US the drink and use only raw milk for its probiotic benefits and its digestibility because when milk is produced in the cow it is produced with LACTASE the enzyme that digests its. But when we pasteurize milk we denature the enzyme and thus render it inactive and the milk undrinkable for some individuals. In addition I am currently studying abroad in France where raw milk is sold in the grocery store next to the pasturized variety and raw milk yogourts, cheeses and other milk products are everywhere. No one is dying. No one is being infected with stuff. Times have changed and so has the hygiene of milking thus the benefit of pasturization in developed countries in regards to milk is not the same as it used to be. Ok I am stepping off my soap box now. It is just something I am passionate about and I felt like the video didn't do it justice 🙂 Still love your videos though 🙂

  24. There are millions of people who die from drinking cows milk each year. Humans do not need cows milk…even cows stop drinking "cows" milk when they reach the adult stage and yet we think we as humans need it ? We are not cows and cows milk has adverse effects on our health….so…drink up fools !

  25. Shilling for the dairy industry, what, ol' chap ! Raw milk is the single most nutrient dense food on the planet. It never spoils (unless something is actually put into it by someone, not from the air) but merely changes form; to clambered milk or to yogurt, depending on the room temperature & the duration of standing. Pasteurisation destroys all the vitamins & enzymes, leaving only the minerals. Homogenisation destroys the digestive system over decades of consumption. PROCESSED milk does spoil & is indeed very dangerous; not raw milk. Certainly cows should be pastured and never fed grain or drugs, as in Wisconsin, etc. Filthy North American dairy industry; bloated, distended cows raised on concrete, never seeing the sun. CAFOs are obscene.
    So many lies told by the dairy industry … and those who shill for it.

  26. Now that pasteurisation is explained, how did the good bacteria is determine in a yogurt is formed instead of bad bacteria?

  27. The process of alcoholic beverages pasteurization are quite tricky to master, specially in home made brews. I'm making mead in some years now, and I found out that 62 ~ 66ºC (143,6 ~150,8ºF) is around the right temperature to kill most of the left must, and other unwanted guests. If the temperature gets over the limit, it harms the flavor. My oldest mead bottle had 3 years, and it was amazingly good when we opened it.

  28. Curiously, while Pasteur's method had precedent, his understanding was resisted by the scientific establishment of his day.

    “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction”. – Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

  29. That is interesting video!
    Do not worry all natural organic raw 🥛 milk drinkers know what is best! Those are probably the same people who do not vaccinate their children either.
    So basically over 150 years of progress will be reserved!
    Oh how being so successful has basically caused a relapse.

  30. I'm calling this one the Orange Man Bad.

    15ml (.5 oz) Cognac or Brandy, (top shelf pls.)
    7.5ml (.25 oz) orange liqueur, either Curacao (i.e. Grand Mariner) or triple sec (Cointreau)
    2 fat dashes of absinthe (instead of bitters)
    Stir with ice to chill
    Strain into brandy coupe or champagne glass
    Top with champagne (gently)
    Flame and garnish with orange peel
    Laugh at all the poors.

  31. Meh, there's no good reason to consume milk products now and even if not contaminated, it's still unhealthy in the long term. Besides that, the fact that there are allowable levels of blood and pus is just disgusting. Got milk? No thanks!

  32. I am epileptic and if someone asked me "Would you rather keep epilepsy or be lactose intolerant?", I would definitely choose to stay epileptic. Man gotta have his cheese! xD

  33. The older I get the less I'm able to digest milk. When I drink milk between 2pm until I go to bed I wake up with acid reflux. Also ranch salad dressing, peanut butter, tuna fish, cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, causes acid reflux, so I don't eat those much either between those hours.

  34. My grandmother gave me raw milk when I was a child and it was vile. I’m getting sick just thinking about it. Ugh.

  35. Note though that not all milk is pasteurized by heating it to mere 60°C; the other process used is UHT (Ultra-high temperature) in which the milk is heated to above 135°C. That extends its shelf-life from 2 weeks to 9 months

  36. I like to use Lead cans rinsed out with Mercury first… goes great with my asbestos napkins and my wooden carving board. I never rinse my vegetables don't want to wash off any of nature's goodness . As far as milk I just tuck my head under and get it fresh from the cow's teat. I have never heard any of this craziness like heating things…

  37. Funny how ya have a better chance of dying from from fruits and veggies than meat lately. Another reason to not be a Vegan hahaha. Who ever dies from crunchy bacon? but lettuce and spinach those are the real threats! Eat more Bacon! it could save your life!

  38. Have you really haven't heard of fermented milk, ever? There are many kinds, even home-made, where i'm from. 10's of varieties just in my country and never EVER have learned, that someone died from it. I sense a slither of sensacionalism somehow…

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