He was born in Dôle, France in 1822. His childhood was spent among animal skins since his father, who had been a soldier in Napoleon’s army, had set up a tannery workshop when he moved into civilian life. Perhaps his contacts with the chemical products his father used during the work aroused in him an early vocation for chemistry and its related fields, although Pasteur was called to achieve fame in another field, that of medicine even if it was not a doctor.
Soon he proved to be an enterprising and multifaceted young man. He studied at the College of Arbois and he developed a special interest in the instruction to others and soon became a monitor and assistant teacher before turning 20 years old. Simultaneously he gave himself to painting, he drew landscapes and portraits, although he did not excel in this facet. Ever since he was a boy, he made his life’s motto come true: “Work, always work”.
His father sent him to the Normal School in Paris where he met the chemist Dumas who influenced him decisively. He quickly immersed himself in a world of microscopes, “clock glasses”, flasks and tiny crystals. He returned to the experiments that Spallanzani had initiated about the world of microbes 100 years before and tried to get to the bottom of the question why organic substances decomposed or fermented. He discovered that the cause was in the action of the microbes that were in suspension in the air.
This finding made him face part of the scientific world of the moment, especially with Professor Pouchet who defended the theory that fermentation was produced by the spontaneous generation of germs in the product. Pasteur developed a whole series of materials (swan neck necks, narrow neck flasks, etc.) and methods to demonstrate that the degree of cleanliness of the air decisively influenced the microbial action.
He moved to Strasbourg as a teacher and later to Lille, where one of his most successful stages took place. His performance on the life of silk worms, the anthrax vaccine (sheep and cow disease) and other achievements made him an very popular man since in addition to extraordinary investigator Pasteur was an excellent communicator.
He returns to Paris and maintains another lively polemic with the famous chemist Liebig about the performance of ferments in the transformation of sugars into alcohols. Discover the vaccine against rabies that makes him famous worldwide and creates the Pasteur Institute. He died in 1895 surrounded by the respect of the people.
This extroverted but modest man, populist but indefatigable worker, full of moral values, with his discoveries was the founder of the modern asepsis and antisepsis that brought so many benefits for humanity. For the packaging industry he left two findings that decisively influenced the development of the same:
-The pasteurization of liquids. Procedure by which, by heating liquid foods (milk, drinks, etc.) to 60-80º C, microbes are destroyed, maintaining taste and vitamins.
-The sterilization of food. Method by which the product to be stored in an airtight container at more than 120º C is heated. It eliminates all bacteria and molds, preventing future reproduction.