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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RanaA... RanaAurora

Considering we struggle with feces-related diseases on things like SPINACH, yet we still SELL spinach, I think that's a weak argument they've got going.

Apach... ApachePunk

Drinking animal milks is not healthy. plain and simple. raw or not. Cows milk is designed to grow baby cows....not people. It's chemical make up is different than what we need as humans. You can get a healthy amount of nutrients, like calcium, from a proper diet. Children should drink human milk for several years (yes, it is silly and unhealthy to stop breastfeeding at 1) and then should no longer need it as their diet should consist of the proper nutrients and balance of nutrients that they need (which means not consuming too much of one thing that blocks the absorption of another, etc). Animal milks are actually associated with an increase in things like osteoperosis in humans. There are great alternatives - coconut milk, almond milk, etc. I think a small amount of cheese and yogert is OK simply because it tastes good and does provide a few advantages (like the probiotics in organic yogert), in moderation, but it shouldn't be the crux of our calcium intake.

while this guy's opinion is a little extreme, his science is good:


nonmember avatar Leta

I've been drinking raw milk for 8 years, through 4 pregnancies, and give it to my children. Whether the cows eat ANY grain makes a difference in the quality of the milk. So does the breed of cow. It requires a lot of research and you need to know your farmer. It also pays to research why Pasteur lived during a time when so many city children were dying from raw milk consumption.

BekaBug BekaBug

im not a fan of raw milk. i prefer organic. its a taste thing for me. i do however LOVE the unpasteurized yogurt i get from the farmers market. my kids dont get it and i havent had any since i became pregnant but its simply AMAZING!

Adrian O'Brien

I think it is the person's decision what they will choose. The government's job is to post a pretty pamphlet explaining the dangers and then back off.

nonmember avatar ladybuggsmama

Pasteurized AND UNpasteurized have their own risks...we may get sick from contaminants, antibiotics used; or any other numerous issues...Im of the camp that dairy isn't good for humans; but I think people will make their own educated decisions. And frankly, the scare tactics regarding raw milk are ridiculous...it can happen with any product, and HAS in the past...so PLEASE stop trying to scare people!!

CBrow... CBrownrockhound

My toddler has raw milk in his sippy cup right now. Btw, you can skim raw milk to about 1%. We use the cream for butter. Everyone has an opinion, which is fine, just allow me to have mine and follow it. My family started drinking raw when I first tried to make cheese with the grocery store stuff. It wouldn't work. Turns out the proteins are so damaged in the pasteurization process it wouldn't make cheese. Grossed me out!

kmark... kmarks613

My 3 and 4 year old only drink raw milk...like my husband and I do. As many other commenters have pointed out, the logic in this post is ridiculously flawed. No one has died from raw milk in the past several years, but there have been deaths due to food that IS FDA approved. There is more risk in feeding my kids spinach, conventional ground turkey, commercial eggs, etc. than raw milk. What a silly thing to villianize.

Rachel Meurer

I don't understand the big outcry. People get sick and die from beef, peanut butter, spinach, onions, tomatoes, cantalope, and chicken. No one is decrying the irresponsible parents who feed such foods to their children. We do drink raw milk and are healthier because of it. Yes, there are precautions to take - like visiting the farm, learning the process, and being cautious. If people knew what was really in the skim and low fat milk they drink they would be disgusted. I prefer to have my food the way God created it and will continue to enjoy it :)

lilma... lilmami81

Milk is just yucky in general, IMO. It's not that great of a source of calcium and the cows are often given antibiotics and growth hormones. If I drank milk, it'd be organic.

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