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Drinking Raw Milk is a Bad Idea

I wrote about this once before, and in retrospect I wimped out. Let me be more clear this time: drinking raw milk is a bad idea.

The Consumer Health Digest is a weekly email newsletter I highly recommend as an excellent source of news about important health topics, health quackery, and consumer health issues. From this week’s update:

Another raw milk warning issued.

The FDA and several state agencies are alerting consumers to an outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with drinking raw milk that originated from the Forest Grove Dairy in Middlebury, Indiana.

At least 12 confirmed cases were reported in Michigan. Raw milk is unpasteurized milk from hoofed mammals, such as cows, sheep, or goats. Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk  packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. Pasteurization heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time and kills harmful bacteria, such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. FDA’s pasteurization requirement also applies to other milk products, with the exception of a few aged cheeses. From 1998 to 2008, 85 outbreaks of human infections resulting from raw milk consumption were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These outbreaks included a total of 1,614 reported illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. Proponents often claim that raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk and is inherently antimicrobial, thus making pasteurization unnecessary. These claims, however, are false.

[Barrett S. Why raw milk should be avoided. Quackwatch, Dec 22, 2003]

There are no health benefits to consuming raw milk, and clearly there can be dire consequences. Just say “no” to raw, unpasteurized milk.


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