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Raw Milk Myths — Busted

An analysis of the top ten 21st Century raw milk myths.

Whether urban legends, deceptive marketing, or beliefs held by raw milk proponents under a siege mentality, there are more microbiological and nutritional myths about raw milk than nearly any other food.

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After reviewing the myths, I looked for information from scientists and consumer advocates and busted the Top Ten 21st Century Raw Milk Myths.  Here are the results:

Myth #1.  Raw milk has been consumed for thousands of years without a problem.

This myth reflects a lack of understanding about the historical impact of infectious diseases transmitted by raw milk for centuries, especially tuberculosis, brucellosis (undulant fever), and scarlet fever (1-5).  Raw milk has caused numerous deaths of infants throughout history.  Pasteurization was developed to prevent these well-documented illnesses and deaths from contaminated raw milk.  In developed countries, the use of pasteurization has been directly correlated to reduced infant mortality (6).  In developing countries today, from India to Africa, raw milk is routinely boiled before being fed to babies, children, and other family members to protect them from deadly milk-borne infections.

Myth #2.  Pasteurization destroys all the nutrients in milk.

Since the dawn of pasteurization (using heat to kill pathogens), this myth has prevailed without scientific evidence.  When pasteurization started to become more mainstream early last century, some people were suspicious of the technology.  Subsequent analyses of the nutritional components of raw and pasteurized milk revealed no significant differences for the major nutritional components such as proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins (7-10).  View comparison of raw and pasteurized organic whole milk labels

raw milk nutrition labelpasteurized milk nutrition label

Myth #3.  Homogenization produces dangerous changes in milk.

This is another old myth dating back to the first years of milk processing during the last century.  Homogenization is simply the process of physically breaking up the fat globules in cow’s milk to make a “homogenous” fluid milk beverage (11-12).  Unhomogenized cows milk will develop a cream layer at the top of the container.  Goat’s milk is “naturally homogenized” and does not form a cream layer during storage. There is no proven health difference between mechanically homogenized cow’s milk and naturally homogenized goat’s milk.

Myth #4.  Raw milk kills pathogens.

This myth evolved from a partial truth based on experimental data where researchers inoculated “bad” bacteria into raw milk and measured its survival.  In one experiment, a few strains of the bacteria Campylobacter died sooner in raw milk compared with sterile milk (13), but most strains survived long in enough in both types of milk to make someone sick.  Other experiments have shown survival and even growth of E. coli O157, Salmonella, and Listeria in raw milk and raw milk products (14-17).  Live bacterial pathogens are routinely found in bulk tank milk on farms, which proves that “bad” bacteria are not reliably killed by “good” bacteria, enzymes or other components of raw milk (18-21).  Raw milk also does not kill or reduce foodborne viruses or parasites.

  

Myth #5.  It is safe to leave raw milk at room temperature.

This myth appears to come from a revival in the interest in traditional diets and practices.  Clabbered milk is raw milk allowed to naturally sour and thicken (22).  The raw milk is allowed to warm, which can be very dangerous if the milk was accidently contaminated with pathogenic bacteria that grow at warm temperature (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli O157, Staphylococcus aureus).  Bacterial pathogens thrive on the nutrients in fresh milk and can outgrow the “good bacteria” once given the advantage of increased temperature.  Not all raw milk contains pathogens, but because you can’t see or smell them, there is no way to know if it is safe to take this chance.  A safer alternative is to buy cultured dairy products such as buttermilk, yogurt, and kefir made with pasteurized milk.  View charts of pathogen growth from experiments conducted at room temperature and under refrigeration:

salmonella-raw-milk-experiment.jpgpathogens-raw-milk-experiment.jpg

pathogens-raw-colostrum-experiment.jpg
Myth #6.  Raw milk is healthier than pasteurized milk for babies.

Raw milk activists in developed countries, especially the United States, mostly perpetuate this myth.  In contrast, most parents in developing countries recognize the dangers of raw animal milk and boil milk to destroy pathogens before feeding to babies or young children.  Numerous studies show that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for infants (23).  A human mother’s milk is designed to be the best source of nutrition and immune-giving factors for her baby.  When breastfeeding is not an option, there is nearly unanimous agreement in the medical and public health communities worldwide that only pasteurized animal milk should be given to infants and young children (1-2, 24).

 

Myth #7.  Millions of people purchase raw milk every year in the United States.

This myth appeared recently in an intense marketing campaign by raw milk advocates.  Their estimate is based on a 2007 CDC FoodNet survey that found ~3% of people surveyed in 10 states reported drinking raw milk in the last 7 days (25).  The survey did not differentiate between raw milk consumed on the farm vs. purchased by a customer.  Most raw milk is consumed by rural dairy farm families and their workers who drink raw milk directly from their own animals (26-27).  Estimates of non-farm, urban and suburban consumers who purchase raw milk from stores or farmers markets are drastically lower compared with farm family consumption.  Commercial raw milk sales make up less
than 1% of milk sales overall (28).  Retail commercial raw milk is a highly specialized niche product that is legal in only a few states and sold mostly in small natural food stores and co-ops.  Major retailers do not sell raw milk because of the well-documented food safety risks.  Whole Foods discontinued sales of raw milk in 2010 due to liability concerns (29). 

Myth #8.   Deaths attributed to drinking raw milk were from “bathtub cheese” and factory farms, not legal or “certified” raw milk.

This myth goes back to at least the 1980s when a single certified raw milk dairy in California was ultimately shut down after numerous illnesses and deaths from Salmonella Dublin (30). These deaths included immunosuppressed persons with AIDS, a then newly recognized syndrome.  From 1980-1983, 15 deaths from salmonellosis in California from certified raw milk were documented (31).  Stricter federal regulations were put in place during the 1980s to curb the high rate of illnesses and deaths from legal raw milk (4).  There are also documented deaths from listeriosis and salmonellosis due to contaminated Mexican-style cheese (e.g., queso fresco) made with raw milk, and processed milk contaminated after pasteurization (32-33).  No deaths in the last decade have been attributed to legal raw milk, but E. coli O157:H7 infections and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) cases have been linked to a number of pasture-based raw milk farms and herdshares in states where raw milk sales are legal (34-36).  Advances in medical treatment of HUS likely prevented death, although some patients may suffer from permanent kidney damage and other chronic health problems caused by the original E. coli O157 infection.  

Myth #9.  European researchers recommend raw milk for treatment of child allergies.

This myth originates from large population-based studies of rural farm factors that affect allergic and other conditions in Europe.  A correlation between drinking farm milk and reduced childhood allergies has been found in epidemiological studies (37-41).  However, the authors admit that causation has not been proven, and it is unclear if farm (unboiled) milk or other farm factors such as being around animals and barns influence the development of allergies in children.  The European researchers recommend that raw milk not be used as a “treatment” for childhood allergies due to the risk of pathogens and serious infection.

Myth #10.  Pathogens only come from factory farms (“confined feeding animal operations” or CAFOs).

This myth blossomed after publication of a small study in 1998 that showed a possible relationship between grain feeding and E. coli carriage in cattle (42). This lead to a widespread unsubstantiated belief that a grain diet (typical of a feedlot) affects the acidity of the stomach and promotes the growth of E. coli O157:H7.  There is still much more research needed to understand how diet affects an animal’s likelihood of shedding pathogens in their feces (43-50).  Higher rates of carriage have been found on feedlots where animals are crowded and when high rations of distiller’s grains are fed, but the specific influence of feed remains unclear.  Furthermore, pathogens have been found in the guts and feces of cattle and other animals (including free-roaming wildlife) living on pasture with no exposure to grain.  See the types of farms linked to recent dairy outbreaks.

References

1. Jaros, P., N. Cogger and N. French.  2008. A systematic review of the human disease evidence associated with the consumption of raw milk and raw milk cheeses.  A report prepared for the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA).  Available at:  http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/science/research-projects/final-report-rawmilk.pdf

2. World Health Organization. Populations at Risk, page 3.  Available at: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/general/en/fos_brochure1999_2en.pdf

 

3. Kaplan, M.M., M. Abdussalam, and G. Bilgona. Diseases transmitted through milk. Available at:  http://whqlibdoc.who.int/monograph/WHO_MONO_48_%28p11%29.pdf

4. Weisbecker, A. 2007. A legal history of raw milk in the United States. J Environ Health 69. Available at: http://www.marlerclark.com/pdfs/raw-milk-jeh.pdf 

5. Steele, J. H. 2000. History, trends, and extent of pasteurization. J Am Vet Med Assoc 217:175-8.

6. Warriner, K. 2011.  Raw Milk:  Political Football or Food Safety Issue. Raw milk webinar Sept2011

7. Nestle, M. Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.  Available at: http://www.marlerclark.com/pdfs/SafeFood_Excerpt.pdf 

8. Macdonald, L. E., J. Brett, D. Kelton, S. E. Majowicz, K. Snedeker, and J. M. Sargeant. 2011. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of pasteurization on milk vitamins, and evidence for raw milk consumption and other health-related outcomes. J Food Prot 74:1814-32.

9. Bell, R.W. The effect of heat on the solubility of the calcium and phosphorus compounds in milk.  The Journal of Biological Chemistry.  1925;64(2):391-400.

 

10. Potter, M. E., A. F. Kaufmann, P. A. Blake, and R. A. Feldman. 1985. Unpasteurized milk. The hazards of a health fetish. JAMA 252:2048-52.

11. Homogenization of milk and milk products.  Guelph University. Available at: http://www.foodsci.uoguelph.ca/dairyedu/homogenization.html 

12. Homogenizers and homogenizations.  Ohio State University.  Available at: http://class.fst.ohio-state.edu/Dairy_Tech/10.0%20Homogenization.htm 

13. Doyle, M. P., and D. J. Roman. 1982. Prevalence and survival of Campylobacter jejuni in unpasteurized milk. Appl Environ Microbiol 44:1154-8.

14. Massa, S., E. Goffredo, C. Altieri, and K. Natola. 1999. Fate of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in unpasteurized milk stored at 8 degrees C. Lett Appl Microbiol 28:89-92.

15. Wang, G. T. Zhao, and M. P. Doyle. 1997. Survival and growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in unpasteurized and pasteurized milk. J Food Protect 60:610-3.

16.
Marth, E. H. 1969. Salmonellae and salmonellosis associated with milk and milk products. A review. J Dairy Sci 52:283-315.

17. Rose, A. 2009. Does raw milk kill pathogens? A visual summary of the research on competitive exclusion. Available at: http://rawmilkwhitepapers.com/

18. Jayarao, B. M., and D. R. Henning. 2001. Prevalence of foodborne pathogens in bulk tank milk. J Dairy Sci 84:2157-62.

19. Karns, J. S., J. S. Van Kessel, B. J. McCluskey, and M. L. Perdue. 2005. Prevalence of Salmonella enterica in bulk tank milk from US dairies as determined by polymerase chain reaction. J Dairy Sci 88:3475-9.

20. Oliver, S. P., B. M. Jayarao, and R. A. Almeida.2005.  Foodborne pathogens in milk and the dairy farm environment: food safety and public health implications. Foodborne Pathog Dis 2:115-29.

21. Van Kessel, J. S., J. S. Karns, L. Gorski, B. J. McCluskey, and M. L. Perdue. 2004. Prevalence of Salmonellae, Listeria monocytogenes, and fecal coliforms in bulk tank milk on US dairies. J Dairy Sci

22. What is clabbered milk?  Available at: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-clabbered-milk.htm

 

23. Hanson, L. A. 2004. Immunobiology of Human Milk: How Breastfeeding Protects Babies. Pharmasoft Publishing.

24. Advice 15-2011 of the Scientific Committee of the FASFC on the risk-benefit evaluation of raw cow milk consumption and the effect of heat treatment on these risks and benefits.

2011. Available at: http://www.afsca.be/comitescientifique/avis/_documents/AVIS15-2011_FR_DOSSIER2010-25.pdf 

25. CDC. 2011. FoodNet Population Survey:  Atlas of Exposures, 2006-2007.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/foodnet/surveys/FNExpAtl03022011.pdf.

26. Jayarao, B. M., S. C. Donaldson, B. A. Straley, A. A. Sawant, N. V. Hegde, and J. L. Brown. 2006. A survey of foodborne pathogens in bulk tank milk and raw milk consumption among farm families in Pennsylvania. J. Dairy Sci. 89:2451-2458.

27. Hoe, F. G., and P. L. Ruegg. 2006. Opinions and practices of Wisconsin dairy producers about biosecurity and animal well-being. J. Dairy Sci. 89:2297-2308.

28. Headrick, M. L., S. Korangy, N. H. Bean, F. J. Angulo, S. F. Altekruse, M. E. Potter, and K. C. Klontz.  1998. The epidemiology of raw milk-associated foodborne disease outbreaks reported in the United States, 1973 through 1992. Am J Public Health 88:1219-21.

29. Beecher, C. Whole Foods Pulls raw milk in 4 states.  2010. Food Safety News. Available at: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/03/whole-foods-pulls-raw-milk-in-4-states/ 

30. Werner, S. B., G. L. Humphrey, and K. I. Kamei. 1979. Association between raw milk and human Salmonella Dublin infection. BMJ 2:238-41.

31. Richwald, G. A., S. Greenland, B. J. Johnson, J. M. Friedland, E. J. C. Goldstein, and D. T. Plichta. 1988. Assessment of the excess risk of Salmonella Dublin infection associated with the use of certified raw milk. Public Health Rep 103:489-93.

32. CDC.  OutbreakNet.  Foodborne Outbreak Online Database.  Available from:  http://www.cdc.gov/foodborneoutbreaks/Default.aspx

33. CDC. 2008. Outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections associated with pasteurized milk from a local dairy–Massachusetts, 2007. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 57:1097-100.

34. CDC. Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection associated with drinking raw milk–Washington and Oregon, November-December 2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2007;56:165-167.

35. CDC. Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections in children associated with raw milk and raw colostrum from cows–California, 2006. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2008;57:625-628.

36. Guh, A., Q. Phan, R. Nelson, K. Purviance, E. Milardo, S. Kinney, P. Mshar, W. Kasacek, and M. Cartter. 2010. Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 associated with raw milk, Connecticut, 2008. Clin Infect Dis 51:1411-7.

37. Kilpelainen, M., E. O. Terho, H. Helenius, and M. Koskenvuo. 2000. Farm environment in childhood prevents the development of allergies. Clin Exp Allergy 30:201-8.

38. Perkin, M. R., and D. P. Strachan. 2006. Which aspects of the farming lifestyle explain the inverse association with childhood allergy? J Allergy Clin Immunol 117:1374-81.

39. Waser, M., K. B. Michels, C. Bieli, H. Floistrup, G. Pershagen, E. von Mutius, M. Ege, J. Riedler, D. Schram-Bijkerk, B. Brunekreef, M. van Hage, R. Lauener, and C. Braun-Fahrlander. 2007. Inverse association of farm milk consumption with asthma and allergy in rural and suburban populations across Europe. Clin Exp Allergy 37:661-70.

40. Braun-Fahrlander, C., and E. von Mutius. 2011. Can farm milk consumption prevent allergic diseases? Clin Exp Allergy 41:29-35.

41. Loss, G., S. Apprich, M. Waser, W. Kneifel, J. Genuneit, G. Buchele, J. Weber, B. Sozanska, H. Danielewicz, E. Horak, R. J. van Neerven, D. Heederik, P. C. Lorenzen, E. von Mutius, and C. Braun-Fahrlander. 2011. The protective effect of farm milk consumption on childhood asthma and atopy: the GABRIELA study. J Allergy Clin Immunol 128:766-773 e4.

42. Diez-Gonzalez, F., T. R. Callaway, M. G. Kizoulis, and J. B. Russell. 1998. Grain feeding and the dissemination of acid-resistant Escherichia coli from cattle. Science 281:1666-8.

43. Callaway, T. R., R. O. Elder, J. E. Keen, R. C. Anderson, and D. J. Nisbet. 2003. Forage feeding to reduce preharvest Escherichia coli populations in cattle, a review. J Dairy Sci 86:852-60.

44. Callaway, T. R., M. A. Carr, T. S. Edrington, R. C. Anderson, and D. J. N
isbet. 2009. Diet, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and cattle: a review after 10 years. Curr Issues Mol Biol 11:67-79.

45. Fegan, N., P. Vanderlinde, G. Higgs, and P. Desmarchelier. 2004. The prevalence and concentration of Escherichia coli O157 in faeces of cattle from different production systems at slaughter. J Appl Microbiol 97:362-70.

46. Gilbert, R. A., S. E. Denman, J. Padmanabha, N. Fegan, D. Al Ajmi, and C. S. McSweeney. 2008. Effect of diet on the concentration of complex Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli and EHEC virulence genes in bovine faeces, hide and carcass. Int J Food Microbiol 121:208-16.

47. Gilbert, R. A., N. Tomkins, J. Padmanabha, J. M. Gough, D. O. Krause, and C. S. McSweeney. 2005. Effect of finishing diets on Escherichia coli populations and prevalence of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli virulence genes in cattle faeces. J Appl Microbiol 99:885-94.

48. Grauke, L. J., S. A. Wynia, H. Q. Sheng, J. W. Yoon, C. J. Williams, C. W. Hunt, and C. J. Hovde. 2003. Acid resistance of Escherichia coli O157:H7 from the gastrointestinal tract of cattle fed hay or grain. Vet Microbiol 95:211-25.

49. Krueger, N. A., R. C. Anderson, W. K. Krueger, W. J. Horne, I. V. Wesley, T. R. Callaway, T. S. Edrington, G. E. Carstens, R. B. Harvey, and D. J. Nisbet. 2008. Prevalence and Concentration of Campylobacter in Rumen Contents and Feces in Pasture and Feedlot-Fed Cattle. Foodborne Pathog Dis.

50. Wells, J. E., S. D. Shackelford, E. D. Berry, N. Kalchayanand, J. M. Bosilevac, and T. L. Wheeler. 2011. Impact of reducing the level of wet distillers grains fed to cattle prior to harvest on prevalence and levels of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in feces and on hides. J Food Prot 74:1611-7.

———————-

Michele Jay-Russell, DVM, PhD is a researcher at the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, University of California, Davis.  Prior to joining the university, she worked as an epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health.


© Food Safety News
  • http://www.salemfarmsupply.com Philip Lewis

    When I was a child I spent a good deal of time on a dairy farm … and drank raw milk. I don’t recall any problems. A few years ago I visited a “raw” dairy near Tulare, CA … drank some milk and ate some cheese … I don’t recall any problems. Would I recommend raw milk to anyone? No. Do I wish to drink raw milk? No. Do I believe that pathogens exist? Yes. Have I seen unsanitary conditions on dairy farms? Yes. Are all dairy producers honest, candid and trustworthy? No. I’m a libertarian. If people want to gamble with their health … drink up and enjoy raw milk. I choose to avoid it.

  • Rebecca Hart

    Are there any studies that have tested the digestability of raw milk versus pastuerized? I know somebody who used to drink raw milk and could drink it all day long without any digestive disturbances. If they drank pastuerized milk, they suffered from all the lactose intolerance issues. Are there digestive enzymes or something else in milk that the heat of pastuerization alters or kills that could cause this difference? I think it is worth finding out, so those out there who would like to drink milk, but can’t because of lactose intolerance, could drink it.

  • pete oldengarm

    As a dairy farmer originally from Southern California now a producer in Texas it was refreshing to see raw milk myths presented in an easy to understand manner.The commercial dairy industry is fighting an image problem being portrayed as greedy uncaring opportunists.Please due some research on pasteurized dairy products and report on the safety of America’s milk supply.In spite of millions of gallons of milk going to the consumer every day,very few problems surface.A healthy product lots of nutrition at a fair price.

  • aed939

    Interesting fact that supports Myths #4 and #5: Palmolive recently reformulated their antibacterial dish soap active ingredient from triclosan to lactic acid. It claims to kill 99.9% of salmonella, E. coli, and staph on dishes in seconds.
    Lactic acid is produced from lactose in milk by lactic acid bacteris during clabbering. That’s what causes the milk to sour.
    http://www.colgate.com/app/Palmolive/US/EN/HomePage.cwsp#Antibacterial

  • Morgan

    While fact checking this article I found this statement on the FIRST article I looked at that was listed as evidence.
    Based on the evidence collected, it was not possible to demonstrate a strong causal link
    between consumption of raw milk or dairy products made from raw milk and any of the
    pathogens considered in this review. The evidence examined in this review did provide
    moderate evidence to support a causal link between consumption of raw milk/raw milk
    products and the following pathogens:
    - Campylobacter spp.;
    - E. coli spp.;
    - Listeria monocytogenes; and
    - Salmonella serovars.
    Seems as though this was in no way conclusive, moderate evidence is not enough, we need proof

  • Bruce Wilson

    Unfortunately, the article falls flat on several points. The comparisons of the two milk products (raw vs. pasteurized) show differences between the two: the pasteurized product is higher in cholesterol, sodium, slightly less carbs, and has no iron. Clearly heating the milk has altered it. Second, India has a a very high population. How can one state with any degree of certainty that everyone boils their milk for infant formula? Are there monitors in every home verifying this? Third, concerning pathogen found in the guts of wild animals, the issue isn’t whether pathogens are located in the guts, but whether they are being shed. This slight of hand by the author betrays the intent to distribute propoganda, and not a factual article. Sorry but its the author that gets “busted”.

  • mrothschild

    Stanford conducted a controlled study to determine whether there is objective validity to the anecdotal claims that raw milk is better tolerated than pasteurized milk by those who think they are lactose intolerant.
    According to the researchers, the results of that study, collected under standardized and controlled conditions, “do not support the widespread anecdotal claims by proponents that raw milk has benefits over pasteurized milk regarding the symptoms of lactose intolerance.”
    The study’s conclusion: “Claims that raw milk is well-tolerated by lactose intolerant individuals, as examined in this study, are unsupported and misleading for individuals with true lactose malabsorption.”
    http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/stanford-bites-raw-milk-in-the-udder/

  • http://www.common-sense-conversation.com Bob@CommonSenseConversation

    Michele, I’m disappointed. You dance and play with words almost as good as Marler.

  • bachcole

    Not worth reading since us raw milk drinkers are doing just fine and have healed problems within our own families with raw milk, like allergies. This is just another biased piece of writing.

  • Mary Rothschild

    Stanford conducted a controlled study to determine whether there is objective validity to the anecdotal claims that raw milk is better tolerated than pasteurized milk by those who think they are lactose intolerant.
    According to the researchers, the results of that study, collected under standardized and controlled conditions, “do not support the widespread anecdotal claims by proponents that raw milk has benefits over pasteurized milk regarding the symptoms of lactose intolerance.”
    The study’s conclusion: “Claims that raw milk is well-tolerated by lactose intolerant individuals, as examined in this study, are unsupported and misleading for individuals with true lactose malabsorption.”
    http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/stanford-bites-raw-milk-in-the-udder/

  • http://www.juicymaters.com Bob@JuicyMaters

    I’l come back and hit some other arguments, but regarding #7, specifically the last sentence, it is possible that Whole Foods considers raw milk a liability because they truly question it’s safety.
    However, it is equally possible that Whole Foods fear of a lawsuit stems not from their doubts about the product, but out of the reality that we are a litigious society, always ready to sue, and the darker regions are inhabited by soul-less beings holding law degrees who wait to take advantage of peoples greedy nature and file suit without regard for real liability, seeking only the deepest pockets, not justice.

  • http://www.thecompletepatient.com dgumpert

    As a few people mention here, this article is entertaining, but unfortunately full of half truths and mileading references. As one example, Myth #5, about leaving raw milk at room temps. “Not all raw milk contains pathogens, but because you can’t see or smell them, there is no way to know if it is safe to take this chance.” The truth is that virtually all milk intended to be served raw does NOT contain pathogens. There are on average (according to MarlerBlog latest analysis) something like 120 average annual reported illnesses from all raw dairy (including cheese) from 1998 to 2011, out of many millions of servings each year.
    Or Myth #7, about raw milk consumption, says, “Commercial raw milk sales make up less than 1% of milk sales overall (28)” rather than 3%+ documented in the 2007 CDC survey. Footnote 28 turns out to refer to data ending 19 years ago. Yes,consumption has increased significantly since 1992, in part because of misleading articles like this from the public health community, which lots of consumers have learned not to trust.
    I could go on and on about the misleading statements. As someone here said, excellent propaganda. Unfortunately, the debate about raw dairy needs to move beyond propaganda to real dialog.

  • http://www.purefoodco.org Sara

    The idea of “safety” of milk being tied to its pasteurization is amusing following the outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe (and several other recent similar outbreaks from commercially produced food). I think we could start boiling all fresh produce and let’s see if we can convince everyone that because it has nearly the same protein, carbohydrates and fats that boiled cantaloupe and spinach are just as good for you as the fresh version. Forget about digestive enzymes, heat-altered proteins, mechanically deranged fats, and everything else raw milk has to offer that doesn’t fit neatly on a nutrition label. If it’s not there in black and white we must not need it.
    The other posters are right, the “science” here is a bit “holy” and comparing the needs of developed countries to undeveloped ones is a far cry from convincing based on differences in sanitation, available resources, and more. With routine tests for Tb and brucellosis already in place there is no risk of those in raw milk in my state at least (Idaho), and developed countries are perfectly able to test for all other pathogenic bacteria as a precaution, and allow consumers the choice to consume food that builds immunity and promotes health in ways pasteurized milk is unable to do. FOr more info on this, visit realmilk.org
    While we’re at it, let’s discuss what’s truly unsafe about our diets – the huge amounts of sugars and refined carbs that are causing epidemics of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and hosts of other illnesses.
    Leave raw milk alone for heaven’s sake, what’s your beef?

  • pawl

    Bruce Wilson wrote:
    The comparisons of the two milk products (raw vs. pasteurized) show differences between the two: the pasteurized product is higher in cholesterol, sodium, slightly less carbs, and has no iron. Clearly heating the milk has altered it.
    But Bruce, didn’t you read, Michelle was referring to only the “the major nutritional components,” not those other unimportant things you mentioned.
    BTW, can someone tell me how vitamin C is somehow introduced into milk through pasteurization?

  • http://www.thecompletepatient.com David Gumpert

    As a few people mention here, this article is entertaining, but unfortunately full of half truths and mileading references. As one example, Myth #5, about leaving raw milk at room temps. “Not all raw milk contains pathogens, but because you can’t see or smell them, there is no way to know if it is safe to take this chance.” The truth is that virtually all milk intended to be served raw does NOT contain pathogens. There are on average (according to MarlerBlog latest analysis) something like 120 average annual reported illnesses from all raw dairy (including cheese) from 1998 to 2011, out of many millions of servings each year.
    Or Myth #7, about raw milk consumption, says, “Commercial raw milk sales make up less than 1% of milk sales overall (28)” rather than 3%+ documented in the 2007 CDC survey. Footnote 28 turns out to refer to data ending 19 years ago. Yes,consumption has increased significantly since 1992, in part because of misleading articles like this from the public health community, which lots of consumers have learned not to trust.
    I could go on and on about the misleading statements. As someone here said, excellent propaganda. Unfortunately, the debate about raw dairy needs to move beyond propaganda to real dialog.

  • Michael Bulger

    David,
    You say you “could go on and on,” but you do not. You’ve taken issue with two ideas you read. Raw milk may for the most part contain no pathogens, as you insist. Surely, raw milk is more likely to contain pathogens than pasteurized milk. You would agree? And those pathogens would not be detected by the consumer?
    Your other issue is how many people purchase raw milk? As the author states, consumption and purchase are two different numbers. I’m not sure either of us could come up with a reliable figure based on the 2007 survey. Do you think the majority of those who reported drinking milk in the 2007 survey were buying that milk or drinking it fresh?

  • http://www.thecompletepatient.com dgumpert

    Michael Bulger,
    Yes, I can go on and on. Three more marginal assertions:
    #1 “Raw milk has caused numerous deaths of infants throughout history.” I’d like to see the info source on that one. My understanding is that raw milk became a serious health problem beginning in the mid-1800s, with the mass movement to urban areas as a result of the Industrial Revolution. That period lasted less than 100 years.
    #3 ” Homogenization is simply the process of physically breaking up the fat globules in cow’s milk…” And there is a school of thought that breaking up those fat globules produces changes to the fat that reduce the benefits of the original globules, and produce changes that can adversely affect health. Our knowledge about the impact of homogenization is incomplete, and I would have liked acknowledgment of that.
    #9 about the European research. Two major studies now show convincing evidence that raw milk significantly reduces allergies (and asthma). The ideological divide around this subject keeps the public health community in strict denial about this research, when the appropriate response is to encourage more research and learn what the possibilities are for using the protection (suggestions the researchers make). But it relates to a fourth problem, Myth #2, since the beneficial nutrient now thought to confer protection from allergies and asthma is a protein that, ironically, is killed by pasteurization.
    Finally, I have acknowledged frequently that raw milk is riskier than pasteurized milk (which does occasionally cause illness, and kill people). But neither product represents a serious health problem.
    To your question: “And those pathogens would not be detected by the consumer?”…I would pose a question: Can you name a food where the pathogens could be detected in advance by the consumer? I suspect not. The reason you even raise such a question is that you and many of your colleagues are blinded by your opposition to raw dairy.

  • mmconiglemartin

    David, if 70% of the population drank raw milk, what do you think the illness rate would be?

  • Michael Bulger

    Putting your personal accusations aside, I will show that this last point was in reference to deliberately aging raw milk. If raw meat was left to spoil, the changes would be noticeable and the meat would most likely not be considered edible. Do you see the distinction between unwanted spoiling and the deliberate aging of a perfect medium for pathogens?
    As to the rest of your points:
    #1 “Throughout history” is a subjective phrase. I’m not going to debate with you the history of milk consumption. It is a relatively new food and the genetic mutation that allows a minority of the population to digest lactose did not exist throughout the entire history of homo sapien sapien. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the use of the phrase. It certainly was a problem as milk gained in popularity during the 1800′s.
    #3 I’d like to see your scientific references for this school of thought. Indeed, there is much more that can be studied regarding homogenization and human health. The study I came up with as time permitted was the following: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224406000550
    If you can gain access to the full report, you will find that they did not conclude that homogenization negatively affects human health. I will quote their most concrete conclusions: “Regarding human health, homogenized milk seems more digestible than untreated milk. Homogenization favors milk allergy and intolerance in animals but no difference appears between homogenized and untreated milk in allergic children and lactose-intolerant or milk-hypersensitive adults.”
    #9 The European studies differentiated between Ultra-Pastuerized Store, Pasteurized Store, Boiled Farm, and Raw Farm. The results for pasteurized milk did not reach statistical significance, possibly due to small sample size. The number that was calculated showed pasteurized milk correlated with less asthma. Boiled farm milk showed less association with atopy (allergies). The results for boiled farm milk were statistically significant. Why would heated milk have the proteins researchers theorized offered protective effects?
    It’s quite simple. Contrary to what raw milk businessmen claim, pasteurization does not kill proteins. The fact is that proteins can’t be killed. Protein enzymes can and are denatured during pasteurization. However, the denaturation does not affect all the enzymes in the milk. In fact, once the milk cools, many of the proteins the researchers point to actual renature. That is, once pasteurization is complete many of the enzymes go back to being regular enzymes.
    I’m not going to respond further today. I don’t expect you to be happy with the state of research, as it clearly shows definite risks to choosing raw milk.
    You likely will fall back on this being an issue of personal choice. What right does the government have to tell people that they can’t consume according to their beliefs, whether or not they are correct or not. I’d just like to point out that milk is the beneficiary of a century of lobbying and campaigning by dairy industry. As such, it has been imbedded in the American diet as a kind of superfood. It’s each and every known benefit has been isolated and trumpeted, as if this food was necessary for the very survival of mankind. In reality, most of the world does just fine (and probably better) with no livestock milk.
    Raw milk businesses are quick to claim health benefits as justification for the elevated risk of their products. Penicillin was first cultured from blue cheese, but no one is suggesting that sick people eat blue cheese to cure an infection. Yet, raw milk proponents use the supposed health-giving properties to market raw milk. All foods contain something that is beneficial and promotes health. In that, raw milk is not particularly special. Raw milk marketers should acknowledge that their product is not “super”, “magic”, or necessary. Raw milk consumers should not be led to believe that it is something that it is not.

  • anthony

    It is a paradox that more and more exceptions are added as far as artificial things in organic food are concerned while these unreasonable restrictions are regularly placed on healthy products of local farmers. I am a great fan of local farmers and their products which I think can under no circumstances be replaced by genetically modified products. What I like in particular is bio meat. It has recently been on the rise but it still needs a lot of promotion. I was lucky to find some great places such as The Healthy Butcher, Fresh From the Farm, Cumbrae’s in Toronto where you can get healthy and high-quality meat which not only eases your conscience as far as the treatment of animals is concerned but it also has a much more positive impact on your health and lifestyle. But when I read about the actions that the government together with other authorities are about to take I get the impression that the future of local farmers and organic food is under serious threat and we should all do something about it.

  • http://www.thecompletepatient.com David Gumpert

    Michael Bulger,
    Yes, I can go on and on. Three more marginal assertions:
    #1 “Raw milk has caused numerous deaths of infants throughout history.” I’d like to see the info source on that one. My understanding is that raw milk became a serious health problem beginning in the mid-1800s, with the mass movement to urban areas as a result of the Industrial Revolution. That period lasted less than 100 years.
    #3 ” Homogenization is simply the process of physically breaking up the fat globules in cow’s milk…” And there is a school of thought that breaking up those fat globules produces changes to the fat that reduce the benefits of the original globules, and produce changes that can adversely affect health. Our knowledge about the impact of homogenization is incomplete, and I would have liked acknowledgment of that.
    #9 about the European research. Two major studies now show convincing evidence that raw milk significantly reduces allergies (and asthma). The ideological divide around this subject keeps the public health community in strict denial about this research, when the appropriate response is to encourage more research and learn what the possibilities are for using the protection (suggestions the researchers make). But it relates to a fourth problem, Myth #2, since the beneficial nutrient now thought to confer protection from allergies and asthma is a protein that, ironically, is killed by pasteurization.
    Finally, I have acknowledged frequently that raw milk is riskier than pasteurized milk (which does occasionally cause illness, and kill people). But neither product represents a serious health problem.
    To your question: “And those pathogens would not be detected by the consumer?”…I would pose a question: Can you name a food where the pathogens could be detected in advance by the consumer? I suspect not. The reason you even raise such a question is that you and many of your colleagues are blinded by your opposition to raw dairy.

  • http://www.thecompletepatient.com dgumpert

    Mary McGonigle-Martin,
    Interesting question, but so hypothetical I wouldn’t even attempt an answer. It’s certainly not a situation I would recommend (70% of the population drinking raw milk). The existing dairy infrastructure couldn’t support production of good clean raw milk for that many people. (Research has shown that significant amounts of conventional milk intended for pasteurization is tainted with pathogens.)
    I do think it could be done very safely, if the government would get off the backs of farmers who have the desire and expertise to produce safe raw milk. This would reverse the current trend of forcing production underground, where it can’t be monitored and tested, and where farmers can’t be educated as to safe production techniques.
    All that being said, I still wouldn’t advocate the scenario you raise. I think people should be able to choose whatever foods they want, including terribly unhealthy fast food. I’m not a proselytizer for raw milk based on its health benefits, even though I know many who have experienced health benefits from drinking it. I respect those people, and their experiences. Let’s just allow that small minority that desire raw milk access to it.

  • sbemis

    I quarrel with Michele in her whitewash of “Myth 7.” Implied in the number drinking raw milk is a comparison of the relative rates of illness between raw and pasteurized milk, data which is available but which no-one seems to want to talk about. The number of people drinking raw milk compared to illnesses has been fuzzy for far too long. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I’d like to suggest some new angles in this debate.
    The 2007 CDC data which reports 3% of the population drinking raw milk cannot possibly mean, as Michele suggests, that only 1/3 of this group is “really” drinking raw milk because that argument relies on the “explanation” that the remaining 2/3 are farmers drinking it from the bulk tank. This means 6,000,000 people were farmers, families and likely employees, who were drinking raw milk from the bulk tank.
    First, if true, this would mean that 6,000,000 people were drinking the most dangerous kind of raw milk, namely milk that was produced with the expectation and reliance that it would be cleaned up by pasteurization. Of course, these folks may have super-strong guts from being habituated to their farm’s menu of pathogens and thus are immune to them. This alone is food for thought.
    On the other hand, USDA reported that in 2006 there only 75,000 dairy farms in the U.S. Since 2006 was one of the years covered by CDC’s 2007 report, we’ll take the 75,000 farms and divide it into 6,000,000 people purportedly drinking raw milk only from bulk tanks. This means on average, that each dairy farm was feeding pre-pasteurized bulk tank raw milk to 80 people. Pretty big families, I would say. But does it really matter? Three percent is three percent, no matter where they are getting their milk, and the illness data don’t suggest that those 6,000,000 people are dropping like flies.
    I would suggest that the CDC study really means that something like 3% of the population WAS drinking raw milk in 2007, meaning 9,000,000 people, meaning it’s very likely more than 9,000,000 people today. I started in 2005, so I’m one of the 9,000,000, but I know lots of people who have started in the last 4-5 years, and I would argue they are part of a much larger number.
    I will admit that illness data suggest that raw milk may well be responsible for more illnesses than pasteurized milk, on a population-adjusted basis (although, pasteurized milk has been responsible for more deaths). Both numbers, however, are tiny. I estimate a population-adjusted illness rate of 0.0007% for raw milk and 0.00007% for pasteurized. I would like the safety/public health community to admit that these numbers are both tiny, and explain the hugely disproportionate emphasis by bureaucrats on taxpayer-funded attacks in the War Against Raw Milk. The hullabaloo present in this discussion is testament to the power of very tiny numbers, and to the power of an out-of-context statistical argument that one tiny number could be ten times as large as another tiny number. With all due respect to those few people who have fallen ill (from whatever kind of milk), the argument against raw milk is ridiculous, perched on a tiny foundation.
    So, let’s move on and let people choose what they want to eat.

  • mmconiglemartin

    David, let’s just pretend that we live in a Sally Fallon world where small dairy farmers are once again the norm and people all though the US can sell raw milk in any capacity: retail, cowshares, on the farm, and farmer’s markets. This would be raw milk produced without the intention of pasteurization, with the best safety protocols followed. Anyone who wanted access to raw milk could easily obtain it in all states. It would also be legal to ship it across state lines. Let’s pretend 35% of the population consumes raw milk, not 3%. In this type of world, how many raw milk illnesses do you think there would be each year?
    Steve, I don’t have Ted Beals figures in front of me. I’m guessing you probably know what he calculated the average number of illnesses from raw milk to be each year. Can you please figure out for me what this number would be if 35% of the population consumed raw milk?

  • Mary McGonigle-Martin

    David, if 70% of the population drank raw milk, what do you think the illness rate would be?

  • Sara

    It would actually be very interesting to look at just California’s percentages of raw milk drinkers, since they probably have one of the highest percentages of raw milk drinkers in the US. I wonder what their state’s percentage is?
    I agree it’s a far stretch to say that MOST raw milk drinkers are farm families. Remind me, why does it matter whether it’s dairy families or not drinking the milk? Are dairy families a super-breed of humans not susceptible to illness? And if so, what does that tell us about the immune benefits of drinking raw milk?
    The wording on some of these “myths” really is quite staged. Really, who believes that pasteurization destroys ALL nutrients or that raw milk hasn’t caused ANY problems for thousands of years? I believe it these statements were reasonably worded, such as “Raw milk sustained mankind and a vital food source for thousands of years” or “Pasteurization alters many components of raw milk” they would be a lot more realistic of what people actually think (and are right about!)
    One more thing mentioned earlier…The issue with homogenization is that MECHANICALLY altered milkfat is more easily passed into the bloodstream where it doesn’t belong in that form (oxidized, if I remember correctly) and poses problems for the immune system and likely the heart. Naturally homogenized milk containing small fat molecules properly formed (not mechanically altered) does not pose the same risks. Research was done on this by Dr. Oster and Dr. Dudley in the first half of this century. Realmilk.com and Dr. Mercola both discuss this in their material.

  • http://www.thecompletepatient.com David Gumpert

    Mary McGonigle-Martin,
    Interesting question, but so hypothetical I wouldn’t even attempt an answer. It’s certainly not a situation I would recommend (70% of the population drinking raw milk). The existing dairy infrastructure couldn’t support production of good clean raw milk for that many people. (Research has shown that significant amounts of conventional milk intended for pasteurization is tainted with pathogens.)
    I do think it could be done very safely, if the government would get off the backs of farmers who have the desire and expertise to produce safe raw milk. This would reverse the current trend of forcing production underground, where it can’t be monitored and tested, and where farmers can’t be educated as to safe production techniques.
    All that being said, I still wouldn’t advocate the scenario you raise. I think people should be able to choose whatever foods they want, including terribly unhealthy fast food. I’m not a proselytizer for raw milk based on its health benefits, even though I know many who have experienced health benefits from drinking it. I respect those people, and their experiences. Let’s just allow that small minority that desire raw milk access to it.

  • Steve Bemis

    I quarrel with Michele in her whitewash of “Myth 7.” Implied in the number drinking raw milk is a comparison of the relative rates of illness between raw and pasteurized milk, data which is available but which no-one seems to want to talk about. The number of people drinking raw milk compared to illnesses has been fuzzy for far too long. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I’d like to suggest some new angles in this debate.
    The 2007 CDC data which reports 3% of the population drinking raw milk cannot possibly mean, as Michele suggests, that only 1/3 of this group is “really” drinking raw milk because that argument relies on the “explanation” that the remaining 2/3 are farmers drinking it from the bulk tank. This means 6,000,000 people were farmers, families and likely employees, who were drinking raw milk from the bulk tank.
    First, if true, this would mean that 6,000,000 people were drinking the most dangerous kind of raw milk, namely milk that was produced with the expectation and reliance that it would be cleaned up by pasteurization. Of course, these folks may have super-strong guts from being habituated to their farm’s menu of pathogens and thus are immune to them. This alone is food for thought.
    On the other hand, USDA reported that in 2006 there only 75,000 dairy farms in the U.S. Since 2006 was one of the years covered by CDC’s 2007 report, we’ll take the 75,000 farms and divide it into 6,000,000 people purportedly drinking raw milk only from bulk tanks. This means on average, that each dairy farm was feeding pre-pasteurized bulk tank raw milk to 80 people. Pretty big families, I would say. But does it really matter? Three percent is three percent, no matter where they are getting their milk, and the illness data don’t suggest that those 6,000,000 people are dropping like flies.
    I would suggest that the CDC study really means that something like 3% of the population WAS drinking raw milk in 2007, meaning 9,000,000 people, meaning it’s very likely more than 9,000,000 people today. I started in 2005, so I’m one of the 9,000,000, but I know lots of people who have started in the last 4-5 years, and I would argue they are part of a much larger number.
    I will admit that illness data suggest that raw milk may well be responsible for more illnesses than pasteurized milk, on a population-adjusted basis (although, pasteurized milk has been responsible for more deaths). Both numbers, however, are tiny. I estimate a population-adjusted illness rate of 0.0007% for raw milk and 0.00007% for pasteurized. I would like the safety/public health community to admit that these numbers are both tiny, and explain the hugely disproportionate emphasis by bureaucrats on taxpayer-funded attacks in the War Against Raw Milk. The hullabaloo present in this discussion is testament to the power of very tiny numbers, and to the power of an out-of-context statistical argument that one tiny number could be ten times as large as another tiny number. With all due respect to those few people who have fallen ill (from whatever kind of milk), the argument against raw milk is ridiculous, perched on a tiny foundation.
    So, let’s move on and let people choose what they want to eat.

  • Mary McGonigle-Martin

    David, let’s just pretend that we live in a Sally Fallon world where small dairy farmers are once again the norm and people all though the US can sell raw milk in any capacity: retail, cowshares, on the farm, and farmer’s markets. This would be raw milk produced without the intention of pasteurization, with the best safety protocols followed. Anyone who wanted access to raw milk could easily obtain it in all states. It would also be legal to ship it across state lines. Let’s pretend 35% of the population consumes raw milk, not 3%. In this type of world, how many raw milk illnesses do you think there would be each year?
    Steve, I don’t have Ted Beals figures in front of me. I’m guessing you probably know what he calculated the average number of illnesses from raw milk to be each year. Can you please figure out for me what this number would be if 35% of the population consumed raw milk?

  • sbemis

    Mary, I used illness data from the CDC for the period 1990-2006, which are slightly higher than the data used by Dr. Beals (CDC data showed an average of about 57 raw milk illnesses per year and Beals’ data shows something like 42, but I believe the timeframes are different, and his data I believe are far more carefully collected and vetted). So, my argument is “conservative.”
    Rates are rates, so you can do the math. If you want to multiply the population by ten or so, you can do that and apply the rate, but I would argue it is highly speculative to do such “forecasting” into a future which would obviously be a radically different environment on many levels. That said, I would argue the trend in raw milk safety has been a good one, but I’ve not worked up that data; my belief is founded on the likely-significant increase in raw milk drinkers in the last five years, and the lack of a concomitant significant increase in illnesses. Thus, the raw milk illness rate may actually be trending down. Your laser-focus is no doubt a factor in this decrease, as well as the vigilant and improving milk production practices by the farmers who are on the front lines.

  • Edwin Shank

    Mary Martin and David Gumpert,
    Mary, you raise a reasonable and thought provoking question. ”If 70% of the population drank raw milk, what do you think the illness rate would be?”
    David replies: “Interesting question, but so hypothetical I wouldn’t even attempt an answer. It’s certainly not a situation I would recommend (70% of the population drinking raw milk).”
    I have good news for both of you. This experiment, 70% (or more) of a given population drinking raw milk, has already been done. And it has been a long term study… running well over 200 years here in America so it is not even a hypothetical. It is the most comprehensive, real-to-life study that microbiologist could possibly conceive of. The demographic includes all age groups and both sexes, pregnant women, infants (once they are weaned from the breast) and the elderly.
    As you may have guessed, David, I speak of our Mennonite communities. The Amish may even be a stronger example.
    Almost everyone in our local Mennonite congregation of 200+ people drink raw milk. The mothers drink it every day even when they are pregnant. My mother did and both my grandmothers did too. I know my wife did with all six of her pregnancies. My wife breast-fed all our children, but somewhere in the first 6 months or so they were drinking a little raw cow’s milk too… and when they were weaned at 12 to 15 months, they went straight to raw cow’s milk. Our family is very typical of our people and the practice in our churches is still that way today. The number of dairy farmers among us is becoming less with the years, but 70% at least of our families still get their raw milk from a dad or brother or uncle or even neighbor. Most of the dairies providing this raw milk never test for pathogens because their dairies are not state permitted for selling raw milk to the public.
    Our congregation is only 1 of about 1000 that we are connected to across the nation. Everywhere you go the pattern is repeated. I have a sister who lives in Guatemala with her husband and seven children, and sure enough, they buy their milk raw from the dairy farmer/minister of their congregation.
    So, back to Mary’s question, what is the illness rate among us? I have never, in my 42 years of life, known of even one problem among our people with a pregnancy or any other illness that was from raw milk.
    Is this scientific? No. Could there have been a few illnesses that went unnoticed? Yes. Does this anecdotal evidence prove anything? No. But I do think that it gives us a very solid clue to what the illness rate would actually be if a high percent of a demographic group were to drink raw milk. The illnesses would not be epidemic.
    In fact, I would further postulate, from community experience, that the over-all pathogenic illness rates (food borne, water borne, air borne, door-knob borne) could possibly even be far reduced from the norm in general society. The reason is that the tremendous diversity of natural micro-flora in raw milk provides the education, information and stimulus that our immune systems desperately need to actually protect us as God designed.
    Just my thoughts ~ Edwin Shank

  • Steve Bemis

    Mary, I used illness data from the CDC for the period 1990-2006, which are slightly higher than the data used by Dr. Beals (CDC data showed an average of about 57 raw milk illnesses per year and Beals’ data shows something like 42, but I believe the timeframes are different, and his data I believe are far more carefully collected and vetted). So, my argument is “conservative.”
    Rates are rates, so you can do the math. If you want to multiply the population by ten or so, you can do that and apply the rate, but I would argue it is highly speculative to do such “forecasting” into a future which would obviously be a radically different environment on many levels. That said, I would argue the trend in raw milk safety has been a good one, but I’ve not worked up that data; my belief is founded on the likely-significant increase in raw milk drinkers in the last five years, and the lack of a concomitant significant increase in illnesses. Thus, the raw milk illness rate may actually be trending down. Your laser-focus is no doubt a factor in this decrease, as well as the vigilant and improving milk production practices by the farmers who are on the front lines.

  • David Hazen

    I drink raw milk in my cereal every morning. The farmers making it, a husband and wife team, have each weekly batch checked in a laboratory. The farmers both happen to be veterinarians. In their literature they explain how they originally bought into the propaganda regarding the danger of raw milk, but their own research countered those arguments. I love the taste, the freshness and yes, the health benefits. I didn’t do so well with pasteurized milk. I used to get stomach aches after using it on my cereal.

  • Paul

    Well spoken, Edwin Shank!

  • http://www.EcoReality.org Jan Steinman

    @Edwin Shank, thank you for that missive!
    The problem with statements like “if 70% did this or that,” is the unwritten assumptions. I have no doubt that what you write about the Amish and Mennonite communities is true. But how many would choose to live like the Amish or Mennonites?
    So if the question is, “What would happen if 70% of Americans lived like the Amish or Mennonites?” I’d wager that quite a few things would be different, including little or no allergies, asthma, autism, heart disease, or cancer — not to mention vastly fewer traffic deaths.
    But if the question is, “What would happen if 70% of Americans drank raw milk from CAFO dairies’ bulk milk tanks, and continued to buy industrial processed food from the centre aisles of Mall*Wart?” I suspect you’d get quite a different answer.
    The problem is not raw milk. The problem is reductionist thinking, the notion that one can take a problem apart into its constituents and clearly isolate the problem to a single component. The reality is that systems thinking (in the manner of Jay Forrester, Donella Meadows, et. al.) is almost totally absent from the “scientific” community these days.
    The Amish and Mennonites aren’t healthy because of raw milk. They are healthy because they embrace a healthy system of living — which happens to include raw milk.

  • rocky503

    This debate recently hit close to home for my family.
    Professionally I have had intimate experiences in the illness outcomes of contaminated raw milk. As already discussed contaminated raw milk is a known source of disease causing pathogens in humans. Raw milk has been implicated in causing severe illness with lasting morbidity. It is not always just a bout of mild diarrhea. The General public is naive to the risk they take with a product like raw milk. E-coli:O157 and invasive Listeria infections cause permanent neurological damage, kidney failure, infant and fetus demise, and death.
    When you tell someone who understands the risks of raw milk that you have decided to give it to your family it’s similar to saying you decided to let your kids play in an open field during a lighting storm. Most people have an instinctive reaction that that’s not a good idea even if they don’t know the risk ratio or likelihood of being struck by lighting. They know it only takes once to have a really bad outcome.
    The types of pathogens than can be picked up from raw milk and cause diarrhea are easily passed person to person in a group setting. This includes among family members in the same household. This secondary transmission, of the type of pathogens that can be found in contaminated raw milk, is consistently documented among groups or families with good hand hygiene and is not a sign of a dirty environment or poor habits.
    Electing to consume raw milk is a leap of faith and some people who do so are looking for a cure for a condition that is discouraging or difficult.
    Personally, I have had to make a difficult decision on learning that a friend, which has been looking after my school age child, has recently decided to provide raw milk to her family. My child will no longer be going to her home after school. It is of course my friends choice and I have no bearing on her decision.
    I am concerned that the choice of raw milk is increasing and better education needs to be provided to the public about the risks they are taking. When you see actualy documented illness cases linked to raw milk keep in mind your are really looking at the tip of an iceburg. Most ill persons aren’t identified unless they severly ill and seek medical intervention.
    I lived and worked in a devloping country boardering India and yes it is the culture to boil raw milk before consumption across the board.
    Dairy’s that test their product can never garantee it free of pathogens.
    I take my chances with pasturized dairy products.

    • Hans Stuedalpie

      To rocky503…Your comment.. “This debate recently hit close to home for my family.”… Left me waiting for the anecdotal “evidence” of a personal experience of a family member dying or in severe illness because of raw milk consumption. Instead, the personal experience is “Personally, I have had to make a difficult decision on learning that a friend, which has been looking after my school age child, has recently decided to provide raw milk to her family. My child will no longer be going to her home after school.” Science is about observation of reality. Mathematics helps us understand what we have observed by providing rules of ratios and quantities that are predictive based upon those observations. Where in the above is the scientific method applied? Also, an “Appeal to Authority” is a major fallacy in Logic. So an to appeal to Authorities in Peer Reviewed articles, the media, or popular opinion … that run counter to the observation of reality is a slippery slope toward deception. It’s no wonder those that love ideas more than truth (or people) are a consistent blockage to human progress. on the other hand rocky503, I think you do have some evidence in your experience in other countries to support heating of dairy products under poor sanitation and hygiene. No sane person wants raw milk produced, processed, stored, and distributed under anything but historically supported safe methods. So rocky503 good points were made by you on parts of your comments!!

  • RaDonna Fox

    I wanted to thank Food safety News for putting this article up. There should be no loss of life due to ignorance.

  • Annon

    Awesome awesome awesome and informative book about this subject: The Untold Story of Milk by Dr. Ron Schmid. He’s a proponent of raw milk and spends a great deal of time and pages going into the history and politics of raw milk and the quality that is lost in the pasteurization process. He also clarifies that not all raw milk is equal: some is produced poorly (the kind that gets everyone heated over the issue) and some is produced cleanly and safely (the kind with awesome benefits). He incorporates great evidence and scientific backup, and one should have the knowledge of what’s presented in this book before one picks a fight over this issue.

  • Rebecca

    The article and most of the comments seem to assume that all raw milk is the same. I have a milk cow and do not pasteurize my milk. No one in my family has ever gotten sick from it. That does NOT mean that I would feel safe stopping in at a local dairy to get a gallon or two. When I milk, I take care to “milk clean.” I sterilize my equipment and wash the udder, strain the milk and fast-chill it immediately. In a commercial dairy, the milking process is not as careful because of the assumption that the milk will be pasteurized.
    In our family, we only drink our own raw milk, because I know my cow is healthy and my milking routine is clean. I don’t trust others to be as careful to milk in a clean way…you don’t get bad milk if the cow is healthy. You get bad milk from mishandling. Most pathogens are introduced from the environment after the milk leaves the cow…dirty equipment is the primary problem.

  • BB

    If you truly want to eliminate the risk of foodborne illness, then stop eating and drinkning. Milk (from another species i.e. cow) is not a “superfood” nor is it neccessary as Bulger pointed out. On the other hand, human milk IS a “superfood” and neccessary for proper human development until we are weaned from our mothers. There’s a reason so many people are lactose intolerant. It’s because we weren’t designed to digest milk as an adult.
    We shouln’t have a government telling us whether or not we can drink raw milk or not. We should examine the information currently available, calculate the risk, and make a decision of what and how to eat or drink.

  • Olga

    A lot more people die from smoking EVERY DAY!!!! Are you writing about that. If the government is so concerned about deaths, why are they still selling cigarettes and alcohol.
    This is absltely CRAZY!!!!!

    • Noor

      Because this is one topic of many that kill people. All deserve discussion.

  • chip

    OK, if raw milk is so bad, and pasteurized milk is so good, then why do we allow human mothers to provide raw breast milk to their babies?
    Why stop there? How about cows out in the pasture with baby calves, why should we allow the baby calves to receive raw cows milk?

    • Noor

      Because human mothers aren’t cows.

  • http://foodsafetynew.com Demetria Kendall

    Article is pure bullocks! I am a 48 year old female who has been consuming raw cow’s milk for 14 years. Let me add that due to my job I traveled the United States and my sources of the raw milk varied from different states via cow shares through various farms. Case study in reality, not what the AMA or government want you to believe: At 48 I have completely reversed acid wear on my front teeth which had been present since the age of 18. Idiot dentists cannot believe that a 48 year old woman can have cavity free teeth. I have just begun to gray at the temples which is impressive since genetically I am predisposed to premature graying. A bone density test revealed mass that of a woman of @ 30. Smooth supple skin on entire body. Nobody believes my age when I tell them. Their jaws always go slack and I take out my Drivers license to prove it. I require NO medications of any kind. And I have NEVER had an adverse reaction to raw milk in all of these 14 years regardless of the source. My younger sister healed all her stretch marks present for 8 years since being pregnant with my niece through a 2 week raw milk fast. It has been 4 years and they have not returned. Don’t let these fear mongers keep you from being healthy. Fear is a control tactic to keep people from being empowered. The media has been busted for purported false stories on the dangers of raw milk. Maybe some people got sick from this but I have to wonder why I didn’t after so many years. I am more afraid of the concoctions they are cooking up in labs and passing off as medicine. Good health to all!!!

  • http://foodsafetynew.com Demetria Kendall

    Article is pure bullocks! I am a 48 year old female who has been consuming raw cow’s milk for 14 years. Let me add that due to my job I traveled the United States and my sources of the raw milk varied from different states via cow shares through various farms. Case study in reality, not what the AMA or government want you to believe: At 48 I have completely reversed acid wear on my front teeth which had been present since the age of 18. Idiot dentists cannot believe that a 48 year old woman can have cavity free teeth. I have just begun to gray at the temples which is impressive since genetically I am predisposed to premature graying. A bone density test revealed mass that of a woman of @ 30. Smooth supple skin on entire body. Nobody believes my age when I tell them. Their jaws always go slack and I take out my Drivers license to prove it. I require NO medications of any kind. And I have NEVER had an adverse reaction to raw milk in all of these 14 years regardless of the source. My younger sister healed all her stretch marks present for 8 years since being pregnant with my niece through a 2 week raw milk fast. It has been 4 years and they have not returned. Don’t let these fear mongers keep you from being healthy. Fear is a control tactic to keep people from being empowered. The media has been busted for purported false stories on the dangers of raw milk. Maybe some people got sick from this but I have to wonder why I didn’t after so many years. I am more afraid of the concoctions they are cooking up in labs and passing off as medicine. Good health to all!!!

    • Noor

      Again, sample size of ONE (you) is MEANINGLESS! Even if you include your sister, it’s nothing compared to large longitudinal studies the authors have put together.

      • Demetria Kendall

        Well let me add more for your discomfort level. In the state of Maine where I reside 6 months out of every year, it is a running joke that people get sick from raw milk which is legally sold in supermarkets. People in the state of Maine drink raw milk without the ridiculous caveman type of fear you shamefully display. “Studies” are biased and manipulative. Because I am not a naïve fool, I believe only what I have experienced instead of letting bogus “Scientists” brainwash me. If you remember properly, the medical association told women for 200 years that PMS was a form of mental illness without any scientific physical proof. Women were sent to psychiatrists by these “Scientific” con men wearing lab coats if they even hinted that their cycles affected their emotions. I am happy to say your ilk is quickly becoming the minority. Stop believing everything thing you read and start thinking for yourself. Come on, catch up already.

  • Rebecca Horst

    wow, who’s back pocket is this author in? everyone of these “busted myths” are twisted and said in such a way as to prove his point, but the real info doesn’t prove those points at all. I really don’t have the patience to go through each of these points, so I encourage you research yourself in the wider world and don’t use this article to base your decisions on. I have been drinking raw milk for years, I have been to the farms where it happens. I feed it to my premature infant and all of my family members. We have never been healthier.

  • Noor

    Really. Your counter-evidence is a paper that isn’t in a peer-reviewed publication and a youtube movie. Yet 50 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals mean nothing to you. It’s sad and frightening how far this country’s scientific literacy has fallen.

    • Undecider

      “Global warming” is “peer reviewed.” Nuff said!

  • Noor

    Scientific skepticism was not born out of ignorance. That role was reserved for mass paranoia.

    • cleft_asunder

      It must suck having to come on here to contribute to making the world worse, even if you get payed for it. This is where you say, “how am I making the world worse, I’m just… blah blah blah.”

  • Noor

    Well, ‘myths’ don’t have sources, now do they? It’s impossible to cite something that can’t even exist in a peer-reviewed journal. So verbal conjecture is perfectly valid as a point to begin refuting. But I’ll even do you one better – I’m willing to be that every single one of the fifty articles the author here cites contains a methodology for how they gathered the false claims they tested. And that’s scientific.

  • P Flooers

    Correct. Review the current science. Raw milk is a “low risk food.” http://phsa.mediasite.com/mediasite/Play/b54b4be24bab4f4581ef0fdd8023d38d1d

  • willkat

    “New Studies Confirm: Raw Milk Is A Low Risk Food
    http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130611-909875.html

  • Charmer

    All you have to do is drink raw milk and see for yourself the health benefits you get: stronger teeth and bones, healthier gut, less infections, stronger immune system. Raw eggs are good for you too. It is too bad people are made to fear these healthy foods, so as to increase the medical profession with chronically ill people getting sicker with each generation. Just because people are statistically living longer, doesn’t mean they are living better.

  • Charmer

    Totally agree with what you have said.

  • Charmer

    Hello……..Babies that are Breast feed are getting RAW milk. The milk is only as healthy as the mother. You need the good yeasts and good bacteria to aide in the proper digestion of the milk.

  • Emily

    My family has been consuming yogurt that I make from raw milk (I make it by adding yogurt to raw milk and letting it sit out in a warm place for 12-24 hrs, not by heating it like typical yogurt recipes) and we’ve never gotten sick.

    For those who are totally anti-pasteurization, really, it comes down to what kind of cow gave the milk (happy and grass-fed, or miserable and feed-lot grain fed) and how the manufacturers do the pasteurizing. Vat-pasteurization at the lowest possible temps, for example, doesn’t destroy the proteins like conventional past. methods. Also, the fat-soluble vitamins in milk are by and large not affected by heat.

    I also want to know: why do all the raw milk bloggers talk about how past. destroys calcium? B/c calcium is a mineral, and minerals are not affected by heat like some of the vitamins.

    That being said, going back to the first para. I prefer to use raw milk/dairy if I am going to consume it, but I think both sides have gone to ridiculous extremes to push their bias.

  • guest
  • Undecider

    “CDC Admits No One has Died from Drinking Raw Milk in last 11 Years in California”

    The Power of Numbers in the War Over Raw Dairy–How the CDC Came to Admit a Death Wasn’t Categorized Correctly
    http://healthimpactnews.com/2011/cdc-admits-no-one-has-died-from-drinking-raw-milk-in-last-11-years/

    Outbreaks from Foodborne Pathogens in Milk and Cheeses Sold as Pasteurized, United States. 1998-present
    http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/PDFs/pasteurized-dairy-outbreak-table.pdf

  • Hans Stuedalpie

    Noor, I believe you mean well, but wouldn’t you be happier if you valued people more than ideas? Think of all the peer reviewed journal articles and all the scientists and all the experts throughout history that were wrong. Almost all the great breakthroughs in human history were by those who valued rational empiricism more than an appeal to authority. Now I’m 64 …and 30+ years ago I was on crutches with severe arthritis. Every expert I went to gave me examinations, tests, and treatments that were all within the accepted standards of care. By continuing with this same system with many many patients, these doctors (authorities) became very rich, respected, and arrogant. None of which helped me though. I still had arthritis. After waking up to their peer-review supported incompetence, I rejected their drugs and chemicals and adopted whole foods, yoga, exercise, raw dairy, and other good things that … then… wasn’t accepted well by authorities. No more arthritis!!. No more pain!! Noor, you will probably say, .. “this is just more anecdotal evidence from one old backward non-authority admiring average person that won’t accept dictatorial mandates… Noor, life is too short to miss the reality. Good luck to you!!

  • Hans Stuedalpie

    I would like to share a conviction that an ever greater percentage of conscious humans are arriving at. We do not trust those that provide reams of statistics, presentations of vast amounts of data, and promotion of studies.. …. that run counter to what we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. We once trusted these people, but over time found that they had biases, agendas, and ulterior motives. We also found that they often were’nt trying to be intentionally deceptive, that was just their biased and controlling nature coming out. They actually believed what they said, A group characteristic is that they insist on mandating laws and rules on the rest of us simpletons because they are always so much more wise than we. They spend their lives accumulating arguments, mis-information, and false conclusions which they over-whelm many people’s intellects with. That is working less successfully every year because we are having group dialogues on the internet like this one. The comments section in these on-line presentations are always more informative than the presentations themselves.

  • Jeanne

    What a load of lies. Pure bold faced lies meant to manipulate the stupid or else written by the stupid.

  • itto

    Ppl here are like babies..they need to be told by their gov what to eat how to eat how much to ear? Etc I grew up in big city and since baby my parents used to take me to grandma farm to drink milk from cow ear home made chess breads meat etc. Now am 47 . never get sick very athletic. I Ski , ride off road bikes go to gym have great live. Never had any allergies or asthma or any illness..live strong stob being chicken and enjoy raw milk…

  • Phil

    We wonder isn’t it how humanity survived for centuries drinking raw milk before pasteurization came along. :-)
    http://www.westonaprice.org/book-reviews/the-untold-story-of-milk-by-ron-schmid/

  • Phil

    There are plenty of stories of Indians moving to the US and suddenly they become milk sensitive after 2 years of drinking pasteurized milk… But yeah, keep your head in the sand

  • Phil

    THis article is complete BS. Myth #2 focus on macronutrients. But enzymes are indeed KILLED by pasteurization unfortunately!! And why they add vitamins in pasteurized milk? :-)

  • Phil

    Myth #4 does not address the core question: Why the heck there would be E coli in the milk in the first place. Answer: factory farming!

  • luck

    Very informative. Tnx. Remember consuming raw dairy products arent necessarily fatal. But certainly there is a high chance to cause diseases such as malta fever and salmonella. Some fevers may cause occasional headaches for a life time. Amazing to see this amount of ignorance in america.Tnx Noor