Trying to Decide about Raw Milk?
Developing a healthy lifestyle is a process with many decisions and steps. One step you might be thinking about is adding raw milk to your diet. Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful germs. Germs include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. It’s important to understand the risks of drinking raw milk, especially because you may be hearing claims about the supposed “benefits” of raw milk.
Maybe you want to eat less processed food, or maybe you’ve heard that raw milk contains more of certain nutrients than pasteurized milk. Perhaps you’ve heard that raw milk can even prevent or solve various health problems. For some people, buying raw milk is one way they try to support local farmers and sustainable agriculture.
It is important to know that milk can be a very efficient home for bacteria and other germs. When milk is pasteurized, some bacteria remain in it, but the disease-causing ones are killed. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a high enough temperature for a long enough time to kill disease-causing germs. Harmful germs usually don’t change the look, taste, or smell of milk, so only when milk has been pasteurized can you be confident that these germs are not present. To ensure that milk is safe, processors rapidly cool it after pasteurization, practice sanitary handling, and store milk in clean, closed containers at 45oF or below.
You can’t look at, smell, or taste a bottle of raw milk and tell if it’s safe to drink. Make the best decision for the health of your family. If you want to keep milk in your family’s diet, protect them by not giving them raw milk. Even healthy adults can get sick from drinking raw milk. If you’re thinking about drinking raw milk because you believe it has health benefits, consider other options.
Meet three women whose choice of raw milk for themselves or their loved ones had life-long consequences. Each of the women or their loved ones were part of an outbreak caused by raw milk.
More information about raw milk can be found on the Raw Milk Questions and Answers page.
- Page last reviewed: January 30, 2015
- Page last updated: May 19, 2017
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