More and more consumers are eating organically, minimizing consumption of processed foods, purchasing foods from food cooperatives and farmers markets, and even growing their own foods, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.
While consuming foods with less processing tends to present a healthier choice, raw milk dangers exist when consuming milk and milk products that have not gone through the pasteurization process, notes the CDC. Pasteurization occurs, explained the CDC, when milk is briefly heated at high temperatures, which will kill most Foodborne Bacteria such as, Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, and Campylobacter.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), raw milk is unpasteurized milk from hoofed mammals, such as cows, sheep, or goats, that may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria “Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter, and Brucella, to name just some” that may cause foodborne illness, even death. For decades, public health authorities, including the FDA and CDC, have expressed concerns about the hazards of drinking raw milk.
Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. The FDA’s pasteurization requirement also applies to other milk products, with the exception of a few aged cheeses.
The CDC points out that, prior to the invention of pasteurization “and its acceptance” raw milk was a conduit for a number of bacteria, including those that cause tuberculosis, diphtheria, severe streptococcal infections, typhoid fever, and other Foodborne Infections. Raw milk-related illnesses were responsible for a number of fatalities every year, especially of young children, said the CDC. As a matter-of-fact, in the 1900s, mothers began recognizing the risks of drinking raw milk and began boiling their own milk.
Since, a number of studies have revealed that pasteurization does not result in significant changes to milk’s nutritional value, maintaining milk’s many proteins, carbohydrates, and nutrients, noted the CDC. Heating does minimally affect some of milk’s vitamins “thiamine, B12, and C” but milk is not a significant source of these vitamins, added the CDC.
The FDA also insists pasteurization destroys harmful bacteria without significantly changing milk’s nutritional value.
According to earlier CDC reports, raw milk or raw milk products were implicated in 45 outbreaks that resulted in over 1,000 illnesses and two deaths in the United States during 1998-2005. In 1938, milk was the cause of 25 percent of all food- and water-related sickness. With the introduction of universal pasteurization “long considered one of the most successful public health endeavors of the last century” that number fell to one percent by 1993. Because not all cases of food-borne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with raw milk likely is greater.
Of note, it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in 22 states and the FDA bans sales of raw milk across state lines.