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?
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