Got Raw Milk? Don’t Drink It
By By Adam Langer, DVM, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
You may have recently heard about people getting sick from raw milk, or milk that has not been pasteurized (heated to kill germs). We have talked about its dangers before on this blog—and we want to give you some important updated information to help keep you and your family members from becoming ill.
New Raw Milk Study
A new CDC study looked at outbreaks related to dairy products over a 14-year period in the U.S. and found:
- Raw milk was much more likely to cause outbreaks than pasteurized milk
- Outbreaks caused by raw milk tended to cause more severe disease
- Younger people were affected more in outbreaks caused by raw milk than in outbreaks caused by pasteurized milk
- States that allow the sale of raw milk had more outbreaks caused by consuming raw milk
Drinking Raw Milk is Not Worth the Risk
Some people claim that there are health benefits of drinking raw milk. They may think that raw milk provides better nutrition than pasteurized milk. This is simply not true. Studies have shown that the nutrients in milk are not significantly affected by pasteurization. In fact, by consuming raw milk rather than fortified, pasteurized milk, consumers miss out on an opportunity to include a good source of vitamin D in their diets.
Even healthy adults can get sick from drinking raw milk. For some, getting sick from raw milk can mean diarrhea, stomach cramping, and vomiting, often for days. For others, it can mean kidney failure, paralysis, chronic disorders, and even death. Drinking raw milk is not worth the risk.
Although many foods can be enjoyed raw, milk and products made from it should never be one of them. Raw milk is a risky source of entirely preventable foodborne illness and can be contaminated with a variety of germs that can make people sick.
How can raw milk make you sick?
Raw milk and other raw dairy products can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. Cows and other dairy animals can carry many different types of bacteria that can cause illness in people. These animals usually don’t appear to be sick because often they are not affected by these bacteria. These animals appear healthy and clean, but the bacteria can be present in their feces, in the milk itself, and on their skin, as well as in the environment of the dairy. Pasteurization is absolutely necessary to eliminate these bacteria from the milk and make it safe to consume.
No matter what precautions dairy farmers take or what they feed their animals, and even if laboratory tests for bacteria come back negative, they cannot guarantee that their unpasteurized milk, or products made from it, is free of harmful germs. You can’t look at, smell, or taste a bottle of raw milk and tell if it is safe to drink.
What You Can Do
As a consumer, you can take steps to minimize the risk of getting sick:
- Only consume pasteurized milk and milk products. Look for the word “pasteurized” on the dairy labels. If in doubt, don’t buy it!
- Keep all dairy products refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below at home and dispose of any expired products to reduce the risk of illness.
- If you consume soft, fresh, un-aged cheeses like queso fresco, make sure they are made from pasteurized milk. Aged cheeses made from raw milk are generally okay to eat because germs usually die off during the aging process. However, outbreaks associated with these aged cheeses have been identified.
For more information, check out these resources:
- Myths about Raw Milk
- Food Safety and Raw Milk
- The Dangers of Raw Milk: Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk
- Raw or Nonpasteurized Products Can Make You Sick [PODCAST – 9:08 minutes]
- Got Milk? [PODCAST – 5:28 minutes]
I was raised on raw milk [18 years] The content of pasteurized is dead, with a small amount of "D". I like the farm, 6 kids & healthy- well cared for animals. He is a small farmer.[clean barn] I have strong bones. Enjoy good health @ 77 yrs . I eat for nutrition. Use common sense in the care of food. Joan
It's my understanding that raw milk has caused NO deaths in at least the past decade, while cantaloupes recently killed 32. Why no recall/ban of cantaloupes?
I have been a drinker of raw milk as a child and as an adult,and still drink it at the age of 68. I have never gotten sick from it nor do I know anyone who has. I find that I can digest raw milk far more easily than commercial milk. I have heard plenty of news stories about people getting sick from other foods, but not raw milk. I suspect that your opposition to raw milk owes more to the financial power of the dairy industry than to any real health risks.
WOW, YOU ARE REALLY UNIFORMED. STOP DRINKING THE GOV KOOL-AIDE, YOU GOV LACKY! I WONDER HOW MUCH THE DIRTY DIARY INDUSTRY IS FEEDING THE CDC, USDA, AND FDA? WAY TO USE CHERRY PICKED INFORMATION. HOW ABOUT THE NUMBER OF DEATHS AND ILLNESSES THAT OCCUR FROM YOUR SO CALLED SAFE MILK? FUNNY HOW THE STUDY YOU CITE ENDED IN 2006 BECAUSE 2007 SAW HOW MANY PEOPLE BECOME ILL FROM PASTEURIZED MILK? 137! I DRINK RAW MILK FROM A RESPONSIBLE SOURCE, HAVE NEVER GOTTEN SICK, AND SURPRISE, I AM STILL ALIVE! KEEP YOUR CORRUPT GOVERNMENT HANDS OUT OF MY KITCHEN AND MY FOOD FREEDOM!
Propaganda LIES, Where is the scientific evidence? I mean REAL scientific evidence, not pseudo science and putrid lies from your paid sources... How about some double blind studies, clinical trials and real life experiences.
What about cheese made from raw milk? Some stores, like Whole Foods, etc. sell that.
You failed to mention that mass produced pasteurized milk comes from mass raised, antibiotic treated, non-farm raised cattle. I want my milk to be untainted. I believe it is unfair to tell people not to drink raw milk. You should rename your article got raw milk? please educate yourself on the risks of both raw milk and pasteurized milk. The government should not tell us to not eat or drink something. Why don't you have an article that says that fast food has the same risks as raw milk and tell people not to eat it. Or tell people that the pesticides on their produce actually have a greater risk than raw milk.
I disagree with you, why don't you let the people choose what they feel is right for them, I am over 50 till today I have never heard of one case sick from consuming raw milk. You are spreading unnessary fear and soon you will forbid the consume of a piece of chocolate. Let the consumer have freedom of selecting food he wants, you let people smoke and drink and even worse just visit a pharmacy and you will find tons of products harming our bodies and health. Got raw milk, yes when I want to :)
drinking raw milk was a common practice in india. and still active in rural india regards www.eklipsemart.com
Why is it we have legislators willing to relax some food safety issues but we can't get legislators to ban raw milk consumption for minors?