History’s Hunger Heroes: Louis Pasteur

Special Interests:Childhood malnutrition
World Food Program USA
July 17, 2014

French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur, known as the “father of microbiology,” made a number of surprising and world-changing discoveries throughout his career—namely, the principles behind disease prevention, fermentation and pasteurization.

His research uncovered how microorganisms that cause alcohol and milk to spoil could be eliminated by merely boiling the liquid. This remarkable find helped protect household staples like bread, cheese, yogurt, chocolate, eggs, canned foods and even water, as well as the people who need such foods. Safer food brought better nutrition for millions across the world.

We might think that boiling milk and water only prevents people from getting sick, but it does so much more than that. It prevents long-term and deadly disease, like salmonella and E. coli, and has been directly correlated to reduced child mortality.

In fact, poor sanitation is often one of the leading causes of poor nutrition and stunting among children. That’s why the World Food Programme distributes pre-packaged, sanitary foods such as Plumpy’Doz and High-Energy Biscuits and even provides education on good sanitation practices. Together, pasteurization and sanitation improve the shelf life of nutritious food and help save lives.

Smarter research, better fact-finding and more innovation—especially when it comes to food and agriculture—can have a huge impact on global hunger.

As Pasteur once said, “Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.”