The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with several state agencies, issued an alert yesterday warning the public about an outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with drinking unpasteurized milk. At least 12 confirmed illnesses have been reported in Michigan.

According to the FDA, federal public health officials are collaborating with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, and the Indiana State Health Department, to investigate the outbreak. As of Wednesday, MDCH had received reports of 12 confirmed cases of illness from Campylobacter infections in consumers who drank raw milk.

raw-milk-campylobacter-outbreak-featured.jpgThe raw milk linked to the outbreak originated from Forest Grove Dairy in Middlebury, Indiana.
Raw milk may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella, that may cause illness and possibly death.

As FDA noted in its alert, most healthy individuals recover quickly from illness caused by raw milk, but some people may have more severe illness.

“The bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, infants, young children, and people with weakened immune systems,” said FDA in the release yesterday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA, and a wide variety of public health organizations have warned against drinking raw milk for decades.  Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce.
From 1998 to 2008, 85 outbreaks of human infections resulting from consumption of raw milk were reported to CDC. These outbreaks included a total of 1,614 reported illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and 2 deaths–and the FDA suspects the actual number could be much higher, as foodborne illness is typically under-reported.

“Proponents of drinking raw milk often claim that raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk and that raw milk is inherently antimicrobial, thus making pasteurization unnecessary,” said FDA. “There is no meaningful nutritional difference between pasteurized and raw milk, and raw milk does not contain compounds that will kill harmful bacteria.”

According to FDA, Symptoms of illness caused by various bacteria commonly found in raw milk may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache and body ache. The agency advises anyone who is experiencing these symptoms after consuming raw milk to seek medical attention.  In rare cases, campylobacteriosis can lead to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous syndrome. 

For information, visit and the FDA’s Q&A page dedicated to raw milk issues.


Recent Food Safety News coverage of raw milk:

WI Legislature Considers Easing Raw Milk Regs, March 24, 2010

Food Safety for Pregnant Women, March 23, 2010

Whole Foods Pulls Raw Milk in 4 States, March 14, 2010

Libertarian Farmers Lobby Against S. 510, March 13, 2010 

  • monica

    I am curious if you have the statistics for numbers of incidences of foodborne illness with pasteurized milk? From the research I have done there have been quite a few.

  • IdahoConstitutionist

    Because these people drank raw milk, the FDA and CDC will not be looking at other foods/drinks consumed to see if those could have been the cause of this Campylobacter outbreak. Raw milk is the automatic suspect now-a-days. Blame is placed even when bacteria isn’t found.

  • Cynthea Lee Rose

    I do not drink pasturized milk for many reasons.
    I drink only unpasturized milk for many reasons as well.
    That simple…

  • For an alternative source of information of why people choose to drink unpasturized milk, visit this link:

  • Marcia Rowe

    I totally agree with Cynthea’s, monica’s, and the IdahoConsitutionist’s remarks. It appears to me that with the push for the independent farmer’s rights to sell raw milk (and other raw products) AND the support that is gaining for it, AgriBusiness Corporations have convinced these government agencies to use SCARE tactics on the American people. This reports seems to me that perhaps the voices of the American people who support this freedom of choice is gaining too much momentum, so the only thing left to do is scare them into buying pasturized products.

  • Rita Donnelly

    The FDA is notoriously lax in regulating the corporate run factory farms where most people get their milk and meat.
    Factory farm conditions result in severe psychological as well as behavioral inflictions in animals. Anemia, influenza, pneumonia, mastisis, intestinal disease are just the begining of a long list of afflictions that plague farm animals.
    Animals are denied fresh air, wholesome food, and proper vet care. These animals are forced to live their lives in close quarters, with constant exposure to fecal material, and are a breeding ground for stress and disease. To combat the dsease they are pumped full of drugs and antibiotics, (which is passsed on to the consumer in levels the FDA deems “safe”) Continuous doses of antibiotics has led to virulent strains that are resistant to antibiotics.
    In 1993 the FDA approved Monsanto’s Bovine Growth Hormone to be used in cows. The very agency that is supposed to be working for our safety has has been working with drug companies to suppress info about the hazards of BGH. I am not even going to get into the horrific animal abuse that goes along with factory farms..
    And the FDA is worried about raw milk from healthy free range cosws that have to pass strict standards of cleanliness before it is sold…think, people.
    For more distressing but informative info, go to and make up your own mind what is safe to eat and drink.

  • Eric Brown

    How hard is the evidence linking the 1,614 illnesses since 1998 to fresh milk? The FDA and CDC have clearly made their decisions on the question of the safety of fresh milk, and their objective (perhaps appropriately?) is now to convince people and wage the PR battle. But what about someone wanting to make as scientific assessment of the risk as possible? Is there any halfway objective evidence for the risks (whether huge or insignificant) anywhere? Does it all just come down to trusting or distrusting the establishment?

  • William R Sprow

    I would love to meet and talk with the idiot who stated in the above article that there is no meaningful nutritional difference between pasteurized and raw milk. On what planet does this person come from? The pasteurization process virtually destroys all good nutrional values found in raw milk.
    To me, the FDA is useless. If you purchase organic foods, beware of the FDA stamp of approval. It cannot be trusted.

  • Chris Yurczak

    Well said Mr William R Sprow. Idiot indeed. I don’t know who writes this crap.