Raw Milk Outbreak Should Make You Rethink What You Drink

Health Check 61

raw milk Raw milk is one of those food debates that continues to rage on as consumers fight for their right to consume what they want, and the government tries to protect them from making themselves sick and dying. A recent outbreak of illness caused by raw milk in Pennsylvania is sure to add fuel to this fire.

At least 78 people have fallen ill, including at least one toddler. All have been linked to unpasteurized milk from The Family Cow dairy. At least nine have been hospitalized.

While I understand the desire to eat and drink as naturally as possible, sometimes nature makes us sick. As Sarah Klein, an attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told USA Today:

These are still animals, they defecate inches from where the milk is produced. They stand in it, they swat their tails through it. That’s all very natural. It’s just a matter of course that raw milk is contaminated.

Louis Pasteur was a smart guy and invented pasteurization for this reason. According to a report in USA Today, unpasteurized milk is "150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness outbreaks than pasteurized milk, and such outbreaks had a hospitalization rate 13 times higher than those involving pasteurized dairy products." Seventeen states have actually outlawed the sale of the milk because it's so dangerous.

So why would anyone take such a risk? Proponents believe in its power and say that pasteurization kills the good properties in milk. They believe it's better quality as it usually comes from small farms, with animals who are well cared for.

All of that definitely has merit, but I still personally wouldn't drink it, and would rather be safe than sick. If other people want to take the risk, then I think that should be their choice, but I think it's an irresponsible choice to give raw milk to children who can suffer potentially fatal effects if infected. There's just too much evidence documenting its dangers that I can't imagine anyone taking that kind of chance with their children's health.

I believe outlawing the sale of raw milk goes too far, but I do think this outbreak is a good reason to make everyone rethink what they and their families drink. Of course, there are risks with any food, and we see outbreaks daily, so whether it's raw milk, ground beef, sprouts, or eggs, we're really all only bites and sips away from illness any given moment no matter what we do.

Do you drink raw milk? Do you think it's irresponsible for parents to give it to children?


Image via kthread/Flickr

eating healthy, healthy habits, natural health

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Kwiat2 Kwiat2

I do not drink raw milk, or eat anything unpastuerized for that matter, although I understand why some people want to. You can get sick from everything however. But I believe in technology making things safer for us, and would not so blatantly risk my family's health by eating that stuff.

nonmember avatar cookie

I think that the best option is to just stop drinking milk altogether. Its not healthy for you (yes you heard me). Almond milk, though, is a great replacement! && its healthy and delicious!

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

You're risking your health whatever variety of cow milk you drink but I still think you're probably safer drinking it raw from a small local farm than drinking stuff from a factory farms that has been exposed to goodness knows what in the time that it spends sitting around and being transported.

Aeris... AerisKate

I agree with Kwiat2.  I do understand why people want to drink raw, but for me, it's not worth the risk.  Listeria is no joke and I don't want to take a chance on letting that in to my body (or my children's).  I like a good balance between what nature intended and what is safe. 

nonmember avatar zizzler

I don't drink raw milk but I understand why people do. Actually, I don't drink any milk, I think it's absurd for adults to have breast milk from any animal. Regardless, lots of foods have health risks associated with them. You can buy cigarettes and booze. You can buy junk food laden with dyes and processed who-knows-what. You can order a steak rare. Fruits and veggies come up contaminated all the time. It's none of my business what other people eat. They're willing to take the risk.

orang... orangetree

Really? By your logic we should outlaw beef because people die from e coli

forev... foreverabuff

This is unfortunate, and I don't personally drink raw milk (I assume raw has to be whole, and whole milk is vile to me), but people have their reasons and this one incident shouldn't necessarily taint their perception of consuming all-natural food, including milk. Things get contaminated ALL THE TIME! I can think of several spinach and tomato recalls just in the last few years. It sucks, but these things happen. It's unlikely anyone will lose their life to this, so hopefully they'll learn from this, maybe make some changes and move on. 

nonmember avatar The milk man

I drink raw milk because I work for a company that hauls it. It has amazing taste but I wouldn't make my kids drink it. When they get older they can have some if they want.

mjima... mjimaging

I don't drink raw milk but I am curious what my husband would say about this. His degree is ag so I might ask him. I do believe paste ruin kills a lot of good stuff off.

Mama2... Mama2MonkeyBoys

If only someone could devise a process to rid milk of these contaminants....

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