The state with the largest retail sales of raw milk in the United States is warning consumers that the consumption of unpasteurized (raw) dairy products may cause serious illness. The warning from Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and State Health Officer, was issued because six Northern California residents have recently been diagnosed with campylobacteriosis, a bacterial infection that can come from consuming contaminated raw milk. PouringRawMilkMainA recent investigation conducted by CDPH identified multiple bottles of Claravale Farm raw milk that tested positive for Campylobacter. Under the direction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Claravale Farm initiated a recall of the affected product. California, where the sale of raw milk at the retail level is legal, continued with a public health warning that states: “Campylobacteriosis may cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting within two to five days after exposure to the organism. Illness can last for up to a week or more and can be especially severe for those who have weakened or compromised immune systems, and for young children and the elderly. Although most people who get campylobacteriosis recover completely, some patients do suffer long-term effects, including arthritis and paralysis. “Raw milk is milk from cows, goats, sheep, or other animals that has not been pasteurized (heat treated) to kill harmful germs. A wide variety of germs that can make people sick have been found in raw milk, such as Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis, Salmonella, and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, including E. coli O157. E. coli O157 can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a sometimes deadly cause of anemia and potentially permanent kidney failure. Raw milk contaminated with disease-causing bacteria does not smell or look any different from uncontaminated raw milk, and there is no easy way for the consumer to know whether the raw milk is contaminated. “Over the past decade, CDPH, other states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have investigated numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with consumption of raw milk and raw milk products. These have included outbreaks of illnesses due to Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, and Salmonella.  Many involved young children. Illnesses associated with raw milk continue to occur.” Although raw milk is legally available in retail stores in California, CDPH does not recommend drinking raw milk or raw milk products, or giving raw milk, colostrum, raw cream or other raw milk products to children. Raw milk products sold in California are required to carry this warning label: “WARNING: Raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk dairy products may contain disease-causing microorganisms. Persons at highest risk of disease from these organisms include newborns and infants; the elderly; pregnant women; those taking corticosteroids, antibiotics or antacids; and those having chronic illnesses or other conditions that weaken their immunity.” Consumers experiencing any ill effects after consuming raw dairy products should consult their health care provider.

  • Jim

    Got real milk?
    How’s this for a public health warning:
    I wouldn’t drink pasteurized milk without a bathroom close by and a surprising percentage of my friends and associates have the same issue (>50%?), but I drank several gallons of whole raw milk every week for five years without any problems.
    Wow. Without any problems? Is that a fact? I did get a cold or flu a few times during those years, as most everyone in the world did. Were the sicknesses in any way attributable to the raw milk? Not plausible to say one way or the other, but according to those who wish to ban raw milk, I should have died or been unambiguously sickened if I was ever infected by a raw-milk-borne illness; meanwhile, the only unambiguous food sickening I’ve seen or experienced were allergic reactions, raw oysters at a sushi bar still open today, and common pasteurized dairy.

    Want more details?
    I’ve left whole raw milk out of the refrigerator for days after taking a swig directly from the bottle and finished that bottle with no problems, other than taste (it’s definitely an acquired taste; best to add some kefir to the milk after opening). I’ve done it with several bottles. I don’t recommend you try it, but it’s a personal observation for your consideration.

    What good is pasteurized milk? It isn’t the cats’ meow.
    Read up on “Pottenger’s Cats”. Short summary: cats fed raw milk were healthier than those fed cooked milk.
    Some have ludicrously countered that cats have special dietary needs! They willfully ignore that the experiment proved there are heat-sensitive nutrients in milk, and that’s relevant to you, too.

    How about this, raw-milk worriers:
    Let’s ban all raw foods for those who wish to ban raw milk. If they ever reproduce, their children and all subsequent progeny must be forced to consume only cooked foods, even the milk sourced from their mother’s breast, unless those “victims” publicly support the sale of raw foods in general, including milk. Only cooked meats, cooked fruits and cooked vegetables will be available for sale to the public who are worried about raw milk. No gardens, no farms, and no fermented foods or live cultures will be available to that sub-section of the public. Lucky for them, McDonald’s is ready for their order.