I am very concerned about the recent trend of consumption of raw milk and especially feeding it to young children. But even more concerning is that I’ve seen a surge in folks advocating raw milk yogurt — a practice that I believe is really asking for trouble. Please put aside your arguments for a moment and consider the following:

Raw milk proponents claim that the risk of getting sick from unpasteurized milk is so low because the pathogenic bacterial count is usually low enough to not make you sick. I will agree that the risk is low, but I believe it is a risk that is extremely dangerous — not just “sick” but very scary hospitalizations and life-long health complications.

Traditionally, yogurt is made by heating milk past the point of pasteurization. The reason for this is twofold: so that the proteins are partially denatured, making it easier for the yogurt-making bacteria to colonize, and so that the possibility of any lingering pathogenic bacteria are destroyed.

The reason for this step is important — in making yogurt, the next step is to incubate the bacteria in the milk for a relatively long period of time — typically 12 hours.

So what I want for folks to understand is that by using unpasteurized milk to make yogurt, you are taking a product that very likely does contain pathogenic bacteria, which, in its raw state, may not have enough of the bad bacteria to cause illness — but then placing that same milk in a bacterial incubation chamber.

And because the proteins have not gone through the critical heating process to partially break down the milk proteins, the yogurt-producing bacteria has a more difficult time in colonizing, leaving plenty more fuel for the pathogenic bacteria.

Can you see how the risks in consuming raw milk yogurt multiply exponentially?

Furthermore, raw milk yogurt has a tendency to be particularly runny. To combat this, people recommend adding powdered milk to thicken it. And that … well, I hate to say it this way, but that is totally counterintuitive. If you thought pasteurized milk is bad for your health, the processing of milk down to a powder is very bad for you. Powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol or oxysterols. I won’t go into that information, but do your research. My thought about food is this: if I cannot reasonably create a food in my kitchen, it’s probably not something I should eat, and I don’t have a clue how to make powdered milk.

You may be of the viewpoint that the risks still outweigh the benefits for your personal consumption. But I beg you, please reconsider feeding this to children. They are the most likely to get very sick from consuming raw milk products.

Please note: I do make my own yogurt at home from my own animals. Most folks assume that because I do not advocate raw milk,  I must be pro-CAFO grocery store milk. Nothing could be further from the truth. I purchase my yogurt cultures from the Dairy Connection. Making yogurt this way is quite simple: heat milk to 180 degrees, cool it down to 110 and add your culture, and use whatever incubation method you choose to maintain the temperature at 110ish for 12 hours.


Amy Manning, a ServSafe certified cook, raises goats for her family’s milk supply. She is the author of the blog: www.MySuburbanHomestead.com, where she writes about the trials and tribulations of learning to homestead.  This post is republished from her blog.