This past January, Kansas experienced its third outbreak of disease associated with consumption of raw milk since 2007.  

Chelsea Good, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Agriculture, says because the 18 people who became ill in January with Campylobacter infection were “quickly and easily identifiable,” no public announcement was made at the time. Those sickened got raw milk from a dairy in south central Kansas.

Now Kansas is warning both consumers and producers about the risks associated with consuming unpasteurized milk or raw milk. The Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Environment jointly issued the warning.

Since the January raw milk outbreak in Kansas, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study showing that when weighted for consumption rates, raw milk and products made from it are 150 times more likely to cause illnesses than pasteurized milk.

Kansas officials opted to issue their own warning, in part to make it clear that retail sales of raw milk are illegal in the state. Only individual sales of raw milk on the farm are permitted, the only promotion can be farm signs and raw milk containers must be labeled.

“While dairy producers can legally sell raw milk on farms directly to consumers, the practice is not recommended,” the warning notice states.

In 2007, Kansas experienced two outbreaks associated with raw milk. One involved cheese made with raw milk that sickened 68 with campylobacteriosis. The second was milk from a single dairy that infected 25 with Campylobacter.

“Consuming raw milk is an unnecessary risk,” wrote George Blush, Kansas’s dairy inspection program manager.  “You cannot tell if milk is safe just by looking at, smelling, or tasting it.  Even milk from the cleanest dairies can poise risk without the pasteurization safeguard.

Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to kill illness-causing bacteria, typically fecal bacteria.

  • You forgot to mention that more people get sick each year from pasteurized milk than raw milk. No one has died from consuming raw milk, but people have from pasteurized milk.
    Pasteurization kills illness-causing bacteria, typically fecal bacteria????? What the heck is Fecal Bacteria doing in milk??

  • Jen

    Check your facts, Rich. MANY people have died from raw milk. More people get sick from pasteurized milk than raw milk because most of the population drinks pasteurized milk… there is simply more of it on the market. If there was as much raw milk on the market as there is pasteurized milk, the number of raw milk illnesses would be astounding.

  • WF

    Even if we just look at the recent CDC stats (, Rich is misstating the facts.
    Raw dairy products (1993-2006):
    * 73 Outbreaks; 1,571 illnesses; 202 hospitalizations; 2 deaths
    Pasteurized dairy products (1993-2006):
    * 48 Outbreaks; 2,842 illnesses; 37 hospitalizations; 1 death.
    None of that is adjusted to account for differences in consumption between raw and pasteurized.

  • tim t

    To get a sense of what such a calculation might look like, let us take some of the available
    statistics at face value for a moment before criticizing their limitations. The FDA claims that in
    2010 alone raw milk caused 88 illnesses and zero deaths in the United States. The CDC recently
    estimated that about three percent of the US population drinks raw milk.26 If everyone in the U.S.
    were to drink raw milk, we could expect to see just over 2,900 illnesses in a year instead of 88.
    According to the most recent statistics from the American Lung Association,67 just fewer than
    3,500 people died of asthma in 2007 and an estimated 12.8 million people had at least one
    asthma attack in 2009. The GABRIELA study found that children who drink raw milk every day
    are half as likely to have asthma as those who never drink raw milk.9 If we assume this
    association represents a cause-and-effect relationship, then we can predict that just over 2,800
    additional foodborne illnesses would be the price we would pay to protect 6.4 million people
    from asthma attacks and to prevent 1,750 asthma-related deaths. These calculations suggest that
    even if raw milk is every bit as dangerous as the FDA claims it to be, it could still save hundreds
    of lives every year and improve the lives of millions.

  • ShayM

    It’s important to know where the raw milk you consume comes from. Educate yourself, and tour the farmer’s facilities. If they won’t let you tour the facility, I wouldn’t go near their milk. I love raw milk, and would rather drink that than the pasteurized crap at the store. Do some research on what the pasteurizing process does to the milk, and all of the fake nutrients they add back in. Raw is tons better as far as nutrition goes, and it’s real nutrition, not synthetic, factory made “nutrients”