Raw Milk Reality: Is Raw Milk Dangerous?

9261452 sBack in February, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published a study targeting raw milk as dangerous and unsafe for human consumption. The media jumped on it in typical fashion. You may have seen headlines like this:

“Raw Milk Causes Most Illnesses From Dairy, Study Finds.”
– USA Today

“CDC: Raw Milk Much More Likely to Cause Illness.”
– Food Safety News

“Raw Milk is a Raw Deal, CDC Says.”
– LiveScience

While two of these headlines are technically accurate – raw milk is responsible for more illnesses than pasteurized milk when the number of people who consume each is taken into account – the concern they convey about the risk of drinking unpasteurized milk is dramatically overstated.

I’m going to break this series into three parts. In this first article, we’re going to examine what the research really says about raw milk safety, and compare the risks associated with drinking unpasteurized milk with other foods and activities. In the second article, we’ll explore the benefits of drinking raw milk from several different perspectives: nutritional, health-related, social, environmental and ethical. Finally, in the third article I’ll make recommendations and provide guidance on finding a safe and responsible raw dairy producer in your area.

This series is called “Raw Milk Reality” because, as is the case with other hot button issues like vaccination and homebirth, propaganda and hype have overshadowed facts and common sense.  If you only saw the headlines from the CDC and FDA reports, you’d be left with the impression that raw milk is a dangerous food and anyone that consumes it or gives it to their children is reckless and irresponsible.  The purpose of this series is to present the other side of the argument, and give you the bare facts without bias or hyperbole so you can make an informed decision about whether unpasteurized milk is a good choice for you and your family.

I’m not here to convince anyone that they should drink raw milk.  That’s a decision each individual has to make on their own by weighing the potential risks against the potential benefits.  But to do that, you need an accurate understanding of the risks (which we’ll cover in this article) and the benefits (which we’ll cover in the next.)

Just how “dangerous” is raw milk? A little perspective…

Before we do that, however, let’s put the current discussion of unpasteurized milk safety into a wider context. Foodborne illness is a concern for many types of food. According to the most recent review of foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S. in 2008 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), seafood, produce and poultry were associated with the most outbreaks. Produce is responsible for the greatest number of illnesses each year (2,062), with nearly twice as many illnesses as poultry (1,112). Dairy products are at the bottom of the list. They cause the fewest outbreaks and illnesses of all the major food categories – beef, eggs, poultry, produce and seafood.

According to the CDC, during the period from 1990 − 2006, there were 24,000 foodborne illnesses reported each year on average. Of those, 315 per year are from dairy products. This means dairy products account for about 1.3% of foodborne illnesses each year. That’s not exactly an alarming number, considering that more than 75% of the population consumes dairy products regularly.

It’s also important to note that the outbreaks and illnesses associated with dairy products are generally mild compared to other foods. According to the CSPI report above, approximately 5,000 people are killed every year by foodborne illness. From 2009 − 2011, three high profile outbreaks involving peanuts, eggs and cantaloupe alone accounted for 2,729 illnesses and 39 deaths. (1) Yet there have only been a handful of deaths from pasteurized dairy products in the last decade, and there hasn’t been a single death attributed to raw fluid milk since the mid-1980s, in spite of the fact that almost 10 million people are now consuming it regularly.

The takeaway is that thousands of people are killed each year by foodborne illness, but they’re dying from eating fruits, nuts, eggs, meat, poultry, fish and shellfish – not from drinking unpasteurized milk.

Why the CDC report can’t be taken at face value

The CDC report claimed that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness than pasteurized milk, and such outbreaks had a hospitalization rate 13 times higher than those involving pasteurized dairy products.

According to senior author of the CDC study, Barbara Mahon:

When you consider that no more than 1% of the milk consumed in the United States is raw, it’s pretty startling to see that more of the outbreaks were caused by raw milk than pasteurized.

But can these claims be taken at face value? No.

There are several problems with the CDC report:

  • First and foremost, the CDC doesn’t include the dataset they used, so we can’t analyze how they reached their conclusions. Fortunately, the CDC data for foodborne illness, as well as data from other institutions and peer-reviewed studies, are readily available online.
  • There are about 24,000 foodborne illnesses reported each year. Yet by the CDC’s own admission, this represents only a tiny fraction of the true number of foodborne illnesses that occur. In 1999, CDC scientists used an estimate of the overall prevalence of diarrhea and vomiting to calculate the “true” incidence of foodborne illness as 76 million cases per year! Put another way, 99.97% of foodborne illnesses go unreported.
  • A food vehicle was identified in only 43% of the reported outbreaks and only half of these were linked to a single food ingredient. What this means is that the true prevalence of foodborne illness that can be attributed to a particular food is much higher than what is reported. It also means that the data linking specific outbreaks with specific foods is such a tiny sample of the total that even small errors or biases in the reporting of outbreaks would seriously skew the results.
  • To calculate the number of people that drink unpasteurized milk, the CDC used an older, lower estimate (1%) of the number of people that drink raw milk. This is curious because a FoodNet survey done by the CDC itself in 2007 found that 3% of the U.S. population – about 9.4 million people  – regularly consumes raw milk. That number is likely even higher today with the growing popularity of raw milk. (In 2010 alone, raw milk sales increased by 25% in California.) Why did they do this? If you’re a cynic, you might conclude that they used the lower estimate to exaggerate the risk of drinking raw milk.
  • They combined data from outbreaks and illnesses associated with “bathtub cheese” (i.e. Mexican-style Queso Fresco made illegally at home) made from raw milk, and raw fluid milk. Queso Fresco is inherently more dangerous than raw milk, and is associated with more serious outbreaks and illnesses. Again, this distorts the data and makes raw milk seem more dangerous than it really is. (Note: commercial, properly aged raw milk cheese has never been implicated in a disease outbreak.)

(For a more detailed analysis and critique of the CDC report, see this article from the Weston A. Price Foundation.)

In light of these weaknesses, I decided to conduct my own analysis using a more comprehensive data set including the CDC foodborne disease outbreak surveillance tables, an online outbreak database published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), public health reports such as the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly (MMWR), a CDC line list produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to CDC by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), and peer-reviewed studies in the scientific literature (2,3,4).

I purposely excluded outbreaks associated with Queso Fresco cheeses, because we are concerned here with the safety of raw milk and not raw cheese made in a bathtub, which I would never eat and would never advise anyone else to eat. I chose to focus on the most recent data available, from 2000 – 2007, since unpasteurized milk consumption increased significantly over the last decade.

I also included two notable outbreaks in California that were missing from both the CDC and CSPI databases: a large outbreak of campylobacteriosis in 2006, involving over 1,644 illnesses among prison inmates that was linked to pasteurized milk produced by an on-site prison dairy and another campylobacteriosis outbreak in 2007, that caused 8 illnesses following consumption of commercial raw milk and/or raw colostrum. (5,6)

What does this more reliable, peer-reviewed dataset tell us about the safety of raw milk?

The chart below lists all outbreaks and illnesses associated with unpasteurized milk from 2000 − 2007. Click the link to display the chart.

Raw milk data

There were 37 outbreaks and 800 illnesses from unpasteurized milk during from 2000 − 2007, with an average of 100 illnesses per year. The estimated U.S. population as of today is approximately 313,500,000. Using the CDC’s own 2007 FoodNet Survey data indicating that 3% of the population consumes raw milk, we can estimate that approximately 9.4 million people drink unpasteurized milk (as I said above, the number is likely higher because of the explosive growth in the popularity of raw milk over the past 5 years, but 2007 is the latest reliable estimate we have).

This means you had a roughly 1 in 94,000 chance of becoming ill from drinking unpasteurized milk during that period.

Now let’s compare this to pasteurized milk, as the CDC did in their study. The chart below lists all outbreaks and illnesses associated with pasteurized milk from 2000 − 2007. Click the link to display the chart.

Pasteurized milk data

There were 8 outbreaks with 2,214 illnesses, with an average of 277 illnesses per year. According to the CDC FoodNet survey, 78.5% (246,097,500) of the U.S. population consumes pasteurized milk.

This means you had a roughly 1 in 888,000 chance of becoming ill from drinking pasteurized milk.

According to these data, it’s true that you have a higher chance of getting sick from drinking raw milk than pasteurized milk. But the risk is 9.4 times higher, not 150 times higher as the CDC claimed.

Perhaps this is a good time to review the difference between absolute and relative risk. When you hear that you have a roughly 9 times greater (relative) risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk than pasteurized milk, that might sound scary. And indeed it would be, if we were talking about the absolute risk moving from 5% to 45%.

But when the absolute risk is extremely small, as it is here, a relative 9-fold increase is rather insignificant. If you have a 0.00011 percent chance of getting sick from drinking pasteurized milk, and a 9.4 times greater risk of getting sick from drinking unpasteurized milk, we’re still talking about a miniscule risk of 0.00106% (one one-thousandth of a percent).

But to truly gauge the risk, we should ask how serious these illnesses are. An “illness” in these data can mean everything from an upset stomach to mild diarrhea to hospitalization for serious disease.  One of the reasons most foodborne illnesses go unreported is that they are only a passing nuisance.  When is the last time you had a bout of diarrhea that you suspect was caused by something you ate?  Did you report it to your doctor or the county public health department?  Probably not.

The statistic we should be more concerned with is hospitalizations for serious illnesses such as kidney failure and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) caused by unpasteurized milk.  This does happen, and children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable and more likely to experience a serious illness.  That said, hospitalizations from raw milk are extremely rare.  During the 2000 − 2007 period, there were 12 hospitalizations for illnesses associated with raw fluid milk. That’s an average of 1.5 per year. With approximately 9.4 million people drinking raw milk, that means you have about a 1 in 6 million chance of being hospitalized from drinking raw milk.

To put this in perspective, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, you have a roughly 1 in 8,000 chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident if you live in the U.S..  Therefore, you have a 750 times greater chance of dying in a car crash than becoming hospitalized from drinking raw milk.

The risk of dying in a plane crash (1 in 2,000,000) is orders of magnitude lower than dying in a car accident (1 in 8,000) – and yet most people who are afraid of flying don’t hesitate to get in their car. But as unlikely as dying in a plane crash is, it’s about 3 times more likely than becoming hospitalized (not dying) from drinking unpasteurized milk.

As I said earlier in the article, there has not been a single death attributed to drinking unpasteurized milk since the mid-1980s. There were 5 stillbirths attributed to an outbreak linked to bathtub-style Queso Fresco in 2000 in North Carolina. These were the only deaths during the 2000 − 2007 period I analyzed.

How does the risk of drinking raw milk compare to other foods?

Now let’s put some of these abstract numbers into perspective.

According to the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly (MMWR), from 2006 − 2008 there were an average of 13 outbreaks and 291 illnesses per year associated with shellfish and mollusks. According to the CDC FoodNet Survey, about 5.7% of the population (17,869,500) consumes shellfish. This means you had a roughly 1 in 61,000 chance of becoming ill from eating shellfish. That’s about 1.5 times the risk of becoming ill from drinking raw milk (1 in 94,000).

The risk is even greater – and more serious – if you eat raw oysters. 7.4% of people who eat oysters consume them raw (1,322,343). There are 15 deaths a year on average attributed to raw oyster consumption. This means you have about a 1 in 88,000 chance of dying from raw oysters. In other words, you have a greater chance of dying from eating raw oysters than you do of getting sick from drinking unpasteurized milk.

What about other more commonly eaten foods?  Check out the chart below, from the 2008 CSPI report. It shows the relative incidence of foodborne illness from 1999 – 2006, adjusted for consumption.

As you can see:

  • Seafood caused 29 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Poultry caused 15 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Eggs caused 13 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Beef caused 11 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Pork caused 8 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Produce caused 4 times more more illnesses than dairy
What this chart clearly shows is that when it comes to foodborne illness, dairy should be the least of your concerns.

I hope this helps you understand the true risk of drinking unpasteurized milk within the context of other risks most of us take on a daily basis without a second thought.  Of course, the next question that naturally arises is why someone might be willing to take any additional risk with raw milk – however miniscule it is on an absolute basis – when pasteurized milk is readily available.

In Raw Milk Reality: Benefits of Raw Milk, I’ll address that question by exploring the benefits of raw milk from a variety of perspectives.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Gaston Liberman says

    It seems you start your reasoning with data from pasteurized dairy products, i.e. when you mention that they “account for about 1.3% of foodborne illnesses each year”.

    And then you close the article listing all the products that caused more illnesses than dairy, but then again, isn’t that data from pasteurized dairy products?

  2. John Davis says

    I am a cheese maker. Originally, I got on this site to get information about using raw milk in cheese making. There is good information on this page and I’m grateful to those who supplied it. Raw milk cheese was the norm for me when I lived in England and it still is, in many parts of Europe. I’ve never heard of anyone getting sick from eating it and what I’ve found on this site bears out the opinion that there is nothing dangerous about it.

    I got what I set out to get and thank those whose posts helped me to clear things up. But, to be honest, the bickering and mindless opinions are things I can do without.

    So, I am leaving this discussion.

    Yours sincerely,

    John Davis

    • J killeen says

      Above commenter is correct. The benefits you receive from raw vs pasteurized milk is simply not worth the risk. Any average American diet gets more than enough vitamins/minerals etc. Illnesses from dairy are low because they are Pasteurized! If it was widespread that americans consumed raw dairy products that number would go way up. And for what purpose? Raw milk companies today take pride and work extremely hard to verify that the cow doesn’t have infection, if raw dairy was widespread the risk of infection would sky rocket.

      • rawmilkmike says

        The above commenter is either selling very low quality processed foods or very expensive drugs.
        As John Davis once said “bickering and mindless opinions”. J is obviously not familiar with the benefits of raw milk. Raw milk has demonstrated a negative risk factor. Only a fool would suggest that the “average American diet has more than enough vitamins/minerals”. Illness from pasteurized dairy has proven to be extremely high even before you consider the so called food-borne illnesses associated with it. If raw dairy consumption was widespread in America we wouldn’t need health insurance because most of the doctor we have today would be in other professions we would all be making a lot more money. And yes J “Raw milk farmers today take pride and work extremely hard to verify that their cows don’t have infections.”

        • whoisoutthere says

          I was on board with most of what you were saying (yeah right, American diet is so nutritious…LOL). You lost me when you said if everyone drank raw milk doctors would be out of work. Yikes. Let’s not cause dismissal of some good points you make with such silliness.

          • rawmilkmike says

            First I know where you’re coming from and I agree but for me sometimes when someone brings up the subject this way I find it hard to contain myself. Are you saying raw milk is not a healthy food? Doesn’t it go without saying that an increase in the consumption of healthy food should result in healthier people and therefor a decreased demand for doctors and pharmaceuticals. Or would it simply mean the salesmen would have to step up their game to protect their $4 trillion a year income? Your criticism brings to mind 1984.

            “Nineteen Eighty-Four, sometimes published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by George Orwell published in 1949. The novel is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (or Ingsoc in the government’s invented language, Newspeak) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as “thoughtcrimes”.”

  3. whoisoutthere says

    Did you also post and say ouch about:
    caggage sickening people
    chicken that continues to sicken people
    massive beef recalls due to contamination and sickening hundreds.

      • holoh says

        The author himself provides the data that shows that raw milk is extremely dangerous. He says that there are only an “average of 100 illnesses per year” caused by unpasteurized milk. However, earlier he says that 99.97% of food-borne illnesses go unreported. This means, according to his data, there are 333,233 actual illnesses each year caused by unpasteurized milk. Yikes!

        • rawmilkmike says

          Now you’re putting word in their mouths. They didn’t say “caused by” the said “associated with.”
          —–
          According to U.S. government studies raw milk may actually have a negative risk factor.
          —–
          1. An estimated 17.3% of raw milk consumers in Minnesota may have acquired an illness caused by 1 of these enteric pathogens during the 10-year study period. (That’s 1.7% per year.) or (1 in 59) and (No deaths in the US from fluid raw milk consumption.)
          —–
          2. About 48 million people (That’s 15% per year or 1 in 6 Americans) get sick and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
          —–
          If raw milk is the most dangerous food NOT on the market how is it possible that only 1 in 59 raw milk consumer get sick each year from foodborne diseases while 1 in 6 Americans(78.5% of whom drink pasteurized milk and only 3% of whom drink raw milk.) get sick each year from foodborne diseases? Raw milk may be preventing 1.3 million cases of foodborne disease and 90 deaths every year in the US. Or in other words: Apparently people who don’t drink raw milk are 9 times more likely to contract a so called foodborne illness than people that do.

        • Marie says

          “However, earlier he says that 99.97% of food-borne illnesses go unreported. This means, according to his data, there are 333,233 actual illnesses each year caused by unpasteurized milk. Yikes!”

          Okaaaaay…. So when he said CDC estimates that 99.97% of food-borne illnesses go unreported why did you ONLY do the math for unpasteurized milk? According to CDC data, and their estimation that 99.97% of food-borne illnesses go unreported, what are the “actual” figures for the illnesses associated with seafood, meat, produce, and pasteurized dairy???

  4. Francesca says

    Charles,
    Nobody is convinced by a single article you posted above, except maybe the feeble minded and gullible. (Which I guess is what you and those of your ilk are counting on.) They are rubbish, misguided or purposeful propaganda put out by big Diary and formula manufactures. Where is your bs detector? But keep trying to rob woman of the healthful benefits of raw diary and steer them in the direction of denatured and dangerous boiled (ruined) milk and garbage milkshake like baby formula. You are actually harming a lot of woman and children with your posts. Just stop and find a real worthwhile cause to put all your energy behind. You are so obstinate. I bet your would rather give up a limb than let go of your dogma on raw milk for babies and pregnant women. You are so entrenched in your position that you scour the Internet tirelessly looking for any source or person who agrees with you and then post your misguided pseudo science articles or outright fabricated lies. Charles, just because you read it on the Internet does not make it true. Where is your BS detector and your street smarts!

  5. Charles Hooper says

    Sweet Mellisa, if you opt to concoct raw milk formula mixtures for your baby, that is your business. I certainly wouldn’t, especially if I had functioning breasts.

    Here are a few web sites for mothers considering options that provide a little food for thought. However much as I may be one in your eyes (assuming you are talking about me), I don’t consider these sources to be “babbling idiots.” There are plenty more, but this should get folks started. Ladies, please do your research before you put an ideology before common sense. “phsst” indeed…

    http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/

    http://www.bestforbabes.org/from-karo-syrup-to-goat-milk-the-formulas-may-change-but-the-booby-traps-remain-the-same/

    http://breastfeedingwithoutbs.blogspot.com/2013/04/homemade-formula-and-weston-price-bust.html

    http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/04/is-the-foundation-of-good-health-found-in-a-bottle-of-raw-milk/#.U-tgcWMvfqM

    http://www.foodinsight.org/Good_Intentions_that_May_Lead_to_Bad_Outcomes_Home_Made_Infant_Formula

    http://www.fearlessformulafeeder.com/2011/09/guest-post-how-anti-formula-propaganda-hurts-infants/

    • rawmilkmike says

      “Real Raw Milk Facts is supported in part by Marler Clark, the nation’s foremost law firm with a practice dedicated to representing victims of food poisoning.

      Everyone knows raw breast milk is best unless the mother is vegan or on crack. We are talking about raw cows milk vs powdered baby formula.

      I have no intention of getting my toilet-training advice from a Pampers helpline.

      Food safety attorney Bill Marler saw an opportunity to pull together a team of journalists – Food Safety News

      The International Food Information Council – Our vision is a global environment where credible science drives food policy and consumer choice.

      FFF “Antigone”. I don’t know much about homemade formula; I am not convinced that someone feasibly couldn’t come up with a concoction on his/her own.”

  6. John Davis says

    I am a British cheese maker living in Japan. I started making cheese at home with store bought pasteurised homogenised milk. I found that it is possible to make cheese from store bought milk and it can even taste quite good.

    Then I got hold of raw full cream milk, pasteurised it and made cheese. It was amazing. The yield was MUCH greater with HALF of the culture and rennet and the taste was excellent. Encouraged by this and other articles on raw milk, I decided to make a batch with milk straight from the cows.

    It was incredible! Everything went so fast. With MUCH less culture, the pH dropped very quickly and with much less rennet and no calcium chloride at all, I got a great set and the taste (60 days later) brought tears to my eyes. This is it! This is the cheese I used to eat when I was a child in England, 50 years ago.

    Japanese law – in its infinite wisdom (sarcasm) – doesn’t allow me to sell cheese made with unpasteurised milk. But it doesn’t prevent me from making it. Or eating it!

    • rawmilkmike says

      John,

      Do you drink raw milk? What do you think of the 60 day rule in the US.? Does the taste of cheese improve with age? Does it get sharper with age? Do you think some people could prefer the taste of a younger cheese? When does it become cheese?

      • John Davis says

        Rawmilkmike, sorry to be late with the reply:

        >Do you drink raw milk?
        Very rarely, but then I only rarely drink milk. I prefer soy or almond milk for drinking. I do, however, make cheese with raw milk, as I wrote above.

        >What do you think of the 60 day rule in the US.?
        I think it’s being ultra safe to the point of meaninglessness. On the other hand, most of the cheese we make is hard cheese, which doesn’t develop its flavour until it’s matured for a couple of months, at least.

        >Does the taste of cheese improve with age?
        Well, it depends what cheese it is. Hard cheeses usually do, but keeping them for longer than six months requires careful attention to temperature and humidity.

        Brie, Camembert, Taleggio and similar cheeses develop a rather unpleasant ammonia taste after 5/6 months.

        Aged cottage cheese would be disgusting!

        >Does it get sharper with age?
        It’s difficult to describe the effect of ageing. I think the sharpness is more to do with the culture used and the time taken for incubation.

        There are also different types of sharpness. Cheddar made with raw milk has a special kind of sharpness that is truly wonderful. Strong, but not sour. Not unlike a good cup of tea, brewed for just the right amount of time with milk and no sugar. (This might not communicate if you haven’t been to England).

        >Do you think some people could prefer the taste of a younger cheese?
        Yes, of course. Each person has their own taste. Our ricotta made with full cream fresh milk is to die for! This does not age.

        >When does it become cheese?
        As soon as you separate the curds from the whey. Some cheeses can be eaten as soon as they are made and others, like Parmesan, are aged two or more years.

        • rawmilkmike says

          Thank you so much for the info. That was exactly what I was looking for. I even printed it out.

          Why do you prefer soy or almond milk for drinking? Most of us need some sort of health food to stay healthy. I read that you should “avoid soy milk with its endocrine disrupting isoflavones and gastric inflaming phytates.” Fresh almond milk sounds OK but not as good as raw milk.

          “Organic, unsweetened coconut milk and almond milk in cartons seem like great alternatives at first blush, but are they really as “healthy” as people believe?”

          “First, Vitamin A Palmitate is added, the synthetic version of Vitamin A.  I personally avoid synthetic versions of Vitamin A like the plague.  Every single multi-vitamin I’ve ever examined contains some form of synthetic A, including the so called “whole foods” multis.”

          “Synthetic vitamins are the chemical mirror images of the real, natural versions.  They can cause imbalances over time   Even small amounts of the synthetic fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A can prove toxic and should be strictly avoided!”

          “The second really bad additive in these organic cartons of coconut milk and almond milk is Vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 is a form of the wonder vitamin that you should take great pains to avoid.”

          “In all known cases of Vitamin D toxicity where the dose was intentional, Vitamin D2 was the culprit.  By comparison, Vitamin D3 is much less toxic and requires an enormous or even an accidental dose to produce any toxic effect.

          Vitamin D2 is manufactured industrially by irradiating yeast.   It is dangerous for D2 to be added to any food product particularly if this product would be given to children, where toxicity symptoms would appear at much lower dosages.
          None of the store brands of cartoned coconut milk or almond milk were free of these dangerous and synthetic versions of the fat soluble vitamins!
          Notice also that carrageenan is present in 2 of the 3 products as well!  Dr. Andrew Weil has been telling people to avoid carrageenan since 2002.  Carrageenan is so toxic and inflaming to the human digestive system that this food additive is formally classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a potential human carcinogen.”

  7. Gary says

    Is there a mistake in this sentence? Does the author mean “Unpasteurized”?

    Yet there have only been a handful of deaths from pasteurized dairy products in the last decade, and there hasn’t been a single death attributed to raw fluid milk since the mid-1980s, in spite of the fact that almost 10 million people are now consuming it regularly.

    • rawmilkmike says

      It’s not a typo.

      “It’s also important to note that the outbreaks and illnesses associated with dairy products are generally mild compared to other foods. According to the CSPI report above, approximately 5,000 people are killed every year by foodborne illness. From 2009 − 2011, three high profile outbreaks involving peanuts, eggs and cantaloupe alone accounted for 2,729 illnesses and 39 deaths. (1) Yet there have only been a handful of deaths from pasteurized dairy products in the last decade, and there hasn’t been a single death attributed to raw fluid milk since the mid-1980s, in spite of the fact that almost 10 million people are now consuming it regularly.”

      There have been 10 deaths associated with pasteurized dairy products in the last decade. The 2 deaths you may be thinking of were associated with cheese not the drinking of raw fluid milk .

  8. rawmilkmike says

    A re-post of part of a response to Sam.

    “One to five percent of healthy people are thought to carry Listeria monocytogenes in their intestinal tracts as a portion of their normal flora.”
    https://www.emlab.com/s/sampling/env-report-05-2010.html
    “Listeria is a type of bacteria found in soil, water, and sometimes on plants.”
    http://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/infections-listeria.html
    “A number of pathogens are commonly associated with persistent diarrhoea in children, but in children without diarrhoea the pathogens are found with similar frequencies.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2709113/

  9. Charles Hooper says

    Mike, you’ve run off the rails buddy, so further debate with you is pointless. I will add though, that I am not paid by nor associated with anybody. Everything I said came from far more authoritative sources than myself, and I cite them!

    Mark, you clearly have a horse in this race, a great big one–you own one among the largest raw milk dairies in the country. After researching you and Organic Pastures, it looks like government recalls are a regular part of your operations. Here is a Mother Jones article as one example, but there are plenty others.
    http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/09/organic-pastures-faces-another-recall-quarantine/#.U7oIsbEpeW4

    And to say we should dismiss the weight of information based on the CDC admitting a mistake is ridiculous. It’s your word versus the CDC and many other organizations. Given your interests, your opinion is little more than an advertisement.

    Cary, regarding me being a tool, see above. Otherwise, offer something constructive to a debate. My goal has been to raise enough awareness so mothers reading here, wondering if they should give their children raw milk—and yes, raw milk cheese—will research the subject more carefully. If I have done that for just one of them, I can say I did what I set out to do, all by my lonesome.

    • rawmilkmike says

      Charles a competitor’s accusation carries no wait. A persons authority does not give them credibility when they are a competitor. When I drink raw milk for my health my farmer becomes my doctor’s competitor. When I buy farm direct I compete with the distributor, when I buy raw that hurts the processor and so on. As you say, these people have a horse in this race. It makes no sense to site an accusation from a competitor when their own data does not support their position. If you listen closely, most of the time their words don’t even support their anti-raw milk position. When I point this out they promptly change the subject or start name calling. The anti-raw milk argument convects itself. The fact that you call your sources authoritative suggests that you have no facts.

  10. rawmilkmike says

    Charles, You are not responding to any of the points that I have made. You have no evidence that “children and pregnant women” are “most affected”. The statement you quoted didn’t even say that and you will not find any official statement that does. Changing the subject to cheese when we are talking about the safety of raw milk most certainly is a red herring. Talk about pregnant women being prone to diarrhea of unknown origin when we are talking about diarrhea associated with raw milk is also a red herring.

    The pasteurization of milk is the subject so how is that a red herring? The definition of raw milk is unpasteurized milk. We are not talking about raw milk products. Pasteurized milk is a raw milk product. Your CDC report says 79% of dairy product-associated outbreaks were due to raw milk or cheese and we all know what they mean by associated. If you don’t please look it up. If it were a fact the correct term would be “caused by” and it would be followed by a reference to some empirical research. You and I both know all they mean is that these people may have consumed raw milk within the last 3 months and that is all that they mean. Farmers selling raw milk directly to consumer, who drink it for their health, are competing with “medical social workers”. As a “freelance writer” I assume you are being paid for your writing. Thanks for your honesty.

    If “there is overwhelming evidence” “that it is not safe to give raw milk to young or unborn children” why did you post your cheese report instead.

    My point is that raw milk has a negative risk factor. If you were a “medical social worker” and you “used to love raw milk as a kid, and never got sick nor knew anybody who did.” then you know I’m right and you know that “young and unborn children” are the ones that need raw milk the most.

  11. says

    Mr. Hooper,

    I challenged the CDC to provide me any evidence of death by raw milk since 1972. Any evidence of listeria monocytogenes causing illness from raw milk. Any evidence of pregnancy being effected by raw milk since 1972.

    Under FOIA, they were not able to provide any evidence as requested. In fact they denied any listeria associated with raw milk. No deaths from raw milk.

    All listeria was associated with processed milk…that is right, the processors blame raw milk conveniently when they screw up pasteurization.

    These are the facts.

    When considering raw milk safety, also consider that 700 different types bacteria have been found in human breast milk including many of the same bad bugs also found in cows raw milk! ( UC Davis IMGC studies ).

    Babies over 6 months of age are perhaps the greatest age group to gain the greatest value from raw milk.

    When we speak of raw milk, we mean tested, low risk raw milk that is intended for human consumption. Not any old raw milk intended for pasteurization. The FDA and processors have intentionally confused the two kinds of raw milk.

    To see the best standards in the world and the test data to back it up…see http://www.rawmilkinstitute.org

  12. Charles Hooper says

    Dang Mike, I just posted a list of organizations who have answered your question, along with quotes and I posted a link to an excellent article that includes more links, etc. You cannot reasonably discuss something if you completely ignore evidence.

    Below is a tidbit of that info that answers your question about where I found “nonsense” about pregnant women and children and the risks they take when consuming raw milk.

    What’s nonsensical are people willing to spout bs to support an agenda or make $. Isn’t that where you are coming from MIke? Shame on you…

    If I was an objective individual (which I am) and researched the information you and Mark provided and compared them with the body of evidence easily found, there is no way I would give my child raw milk…no way. Why take such a foolish risk? There is no evidence making its potential benefits outweigh its risks. It’s not rocket science, just facts and objectivity, neither of which you possess enough of.

    From a CDC report:
    “Among dairy product-associated outbreaks reported to CDC between 1998 and 2011 in which the investigators reported whether the product was pasteurized or raw, 79% were due to raw milk or cheese. From 1998 through 2011, 148 outbreaks due to consumption of raw milk or raw milk products were reported to CDC. These resulted in 2,384 illnesses, 284 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. Most of these illnesses were caused by Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, or Listeria. It is important to note that a substantial proportion of the raw milk-associated disease burden falls on children; among the 104 outbreaks from 1998-2011 with information on the patients’ ages available, 82% involved at least one person younger than 20 years old.”

    • rawmilkmike says

      Charles, Thank you for your response. I’m not the one ignoring evidence. If you look closely at your evidence you will see it actually supports my argument. It does not support yours. I am a raw milk consumer not a producer. I grew up on pasteurized milk so I know the difference. I have no agenda other than the health of our families. What’s your agenda? Who do you work for?

      Where is your “objectivity”? “Associated” only means they may have drank raw milk. The cause can not be proven. The average “outbreak” associated with raw milk is 11. For pasteurized milk it’s thousands. “between 1998 and 2011”? In 1985, there were over 16,000 confirmed cases of Salmonella infection that were traced back to pasteurized milk from a single dairy. “due to raw milk or cheese”? We are not talking about cheese so doesn’t that make this CDC report irrelevant? Isn’t this what they call a red herring? “Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Listeria” are not strictly food-borne. They are in us, on us, and on almost everything we touch. If “a substantial proportion of the raw milk-associated disease burden fell on children”, wouldn’t there always be “at least one person younger than 20 years old”? Since when is an 18 year old a child? “Substantial proportion” does not mean majority. Actually adults get diarrhea more often than children.

      So that’s the best data you can come up with?

      According to the CDC’s Minnesota study only 1.7% per year or 1 in 59 raw milk consumers get sick each year from foodborne disease. The national average for non-raw milk consumers is 9 times that. Isn’t that a negative risk factor?

      • Charles Hooper says

        No mike, a red herring is a distraction method to divert a discussion from a relevant issue. In this case, the issue is whether it is safe to give children and pregnant women raw milk. I simply say the preponderance of evidence, some of which I cite or link to or list more authoritative sources saying it, is convincing enough to believe it is not, and that I believe to argue otherwise, without more convincing evidence, is irresponsible, since those most affected are unable to argue for themselves (children, whether born or unborn).

        You offer genuine red herrings aplenty. For example, your repeated referencing to pasteurized milk; the whole silly cheese thing (it’s raw milk “products”); and, my favorite, your misunderstanding the report’s use of the term “associated” since it had already said, “From 1998 through 2011, 148 outbreaks DUE TO consumption of raw milk or raw milk products…” obviously meaning more than “associated” from the research methodology definition you apply. It’s actually okay to say something is “associated” once established as fact. Like, rain is associated with clouds, etc.

        You lost me on the bacteria thing. E.coli does indeed live in the gut–in the intestinal tract, not the stomach, and never shall the twain meet or somebody is going to get sick. None of the other three live anywhere inside our digestive systems as far as I know. That these bacteria are all around us I won’t argue with. But it is when they get in the guts of people is when they become pathogens.

        You need to understand that point is the crux of the whole matter. They get in the guts of children either when the child ingests something contaminated (as from a field worker’s unwashed, fecal-smeared hands picking your lettuce), a pasteurized milk system that ain’t pasteurizing, as the one I think you are alluding to was supposed to have, or from a speck of cow crap in the raw milk you give trusting little baby. I personally wouldn’t give a child under two any kind of dairy product, but that my friend would be a red herring.

        Since you asked, I am a retired medical social worker and occasional freelance writer. I used to love raw milk as a kid, and never got sick nor knew anybody who did. I simply say there is overwhelming evidence–far beyond just from the CDC–that it is not safe to give it to young or unborn children. Most of what you are saying is irrelevant to that, or as you would say, “red herrings.”

        • rawmilkmike says

          Charles you said “It’s actually okay to say something is “associated” once established as fact. Like, rain is associated with clouds” but rain isn’t caused by clouds and cause it what we are talking about.

        • rawmilkmike says

          Charles, I apologize for the misprint. You said “It’s actually okay to say something is “associated” once established as fact. Like, rain is associated with clouds” but rain isn’t caused by clouds and cause is what we are talking about.

          You also said “You lost me on the bacteria thing. E.coli does indeed live in the gut–in the intestinal tract, not the stomach, and never shall the twain meet or somebody is going to get sick.” But diarrhea happens “in the intestinal tract” not in the stomach.

  13. rawmilkmike says

    Charles, no one avoids death or diarrhea. The average America gets diarrhea 4 times a year. Has the CDC checked to see how often raw milk consumers get diarrhea?

    Charles Hooper, do you have any idea where this nonsense about “young children and pregnant women” comes from? “pregnant women” are prone to diarrhea. There is no evidence that raw milk increases that risk. The CDC’s Minnesota raw milk study actually suggests the very opposite. “young children” make up a large number of the 10 million raw milk consumers but only a small percentage of the raw milk-associated illnesses.

  14. John Davis says

    It’s interesting that on the FDA site on this issue, they state that one of the dairy products it’s safe to eat is “ricotta cheese made from pasteurised milk.”

    1. Ricotta isn’t cheese. It’s a by product of the cheese making process.
    2. In making ricotta, you heat the whey to 75C, add salt and milk and continue heating to 85C. At this point, IT IS PASTEURISED.

    You cannot make ricotta at low temperature – you just can’t do it. It wouldn’t be (ri=again, cotta=cooked) if you did. ALL ricotta is made from pasteurised milk.

    Looks like they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

  15. says

    Mr. Hooper,

    You are mostly right about the safety of raw milk in the 1800’s and the very early 1900’s. But that is very old history. Recent CDC data holds a different truth.

    422,000 illnesses from pasteurized dairy products from 1972 forward.

    77 deaths from pasteurized dairy products since 1972…with the last 9 deaths since 2007 all from pasteurized dairy cheese and milk!!

    There have been about 30 illnesses per year in the USA since 1972 and zero deaths from fluid raw milk!!

    Those are the cold hard facts.

    As far as listeria is concerned….there is no listeria illnesses associated with raw milk. That is right…listeria come from processed milk, not raw milk. The CDC under FOIA has clearly declared zero illnesses originating from fluid raw milk from Listeeria. That means that raw milk is not a risk for pregnancy. In fact, one huge EU study showed that pregnant moms provided a very strong gift as shown by cord blood anti bodies of their newborns when they drank raw milk during pregnancy.

    if you want to see really pure and low risk raw milk…go see http://www.rawmilkinstitute.org and look at the food safety plans and test data of the LISTED raw dairymen. The risk is extremely low….far lower than pasteurized milk for sure.

    Mark McAfee
    CEO OPDC
    Fresno CA

    • Charles Hooper says

      Hi Mark, I’m making no argument about the safety of pasteurized milk. I’m saying there is too much caution from too many quarters about the dangers of raw milk to certain populations, which goes beyond “deaths” and “listeria.” The same CDC you cite and whose opinion you seem to respect (at least with information you want to hear) also reports the dangers I mention. Here a few snippets from different bulletins just in the last couple of months:

      “Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. While it is possible to get foodborne illnesses from many different foods, raw milk is one of the riskiest of all.”

      “Getting sick from raw milk can mean many days of diarrhea, stomach cramping, and vomiting. Less commonly, it can mean kidney failure, paralysis, chronic disorders, and even death.”

      “Many people who chose raw milk thinking they would improve their health instead found themselves (or their loved ones) sick in a hospital for several weeks fighting for their lives from infections caused by germs in raw milk. For example, a person can develop severe or even life-threatening diseases, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis, and hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can result in kidney failure and stroke.”

      “Illness can occur from the same brand and source of raw milk that people had been drinking for a long time without becoming ill.
      A wide variety of germs that are sometimes found in raw milk, can make people sick, including bacteria (e.g., Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis (a cause of tuberculosis), Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli [e.g., E. coli O157], Shigella, Yersinia), parasites (e.g., Giardia), and viruses (e.g., norovirus).
      Each ill person’s symptoms can differ, depending on the type of germ, the amount of contamination, and the person’s immune defenses.”

      “Who is at greatest risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk?

      The risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk is greater for infants and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer, an organ transplant, or HIV/AIDS, than it is for healthy school-aged children and adults. But, it is important to remember that healthy people of any age can get very sick or even die if they drink raw milk contaminated with harmful germs.

      Can drinking raw milk hurt me or my family?

      Yes. Raw milk can cause serious infections. Raw milk and raw milk products (such as cheeses and yogurts made with raw milk) can be contaminated with bacteria that can cause serious illness, hospitalization, or death. These harmful bacteria include Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Shigella, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Yersinia enterocolitica. From 1998 through 2011, 148 outbreaks due to consumption of raw milk or raw milk products were reported to CDC. These resulted in 2,384 illnesses, 284 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. Most of these illnesses were caused by Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, or Listeria. It is important to note that a substantial proportion of the raw milk-associated disease burden falls on children; among the 104 outbreaks from 1998-2011 with information on the patients’ ages available, 82% involved at least one person younger than 20 years old.”

      “Because not all cases of foodborne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with raw milk likely is greater.”

      “According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1993 and 2006 more than 1500 people in the United States became sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk. In addition, CDC reported that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products.”

      “Pregnant women run a serious risk of becoming ill from the bacteria Listeria which can cause miscarriage, fetal death or illness or death of a newborn. If you are pregnant, consuming raw milk – or foods made from raw milk, such as Mexican-style cheese like Queso Blanco or Queso Fresco – can harm your baby even if you don’t feel sick.”

      A number of regulatory, educational, and public health organizations have issued position papers regarding the dangers associated with the consumption of raw milk. These include:

      Association of Food & Drug Officials (AFDO),

      American Public Health Association (APHA),

      American Medical Association (AMA),

      American Academy of Pediatrics,

      U.S. Animal Health Association,

      National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians,

      Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists,

      House of Delegates of the American Veterinary Medical Association,

      U.S. Food & Drug Administration, and

      International Association for Food Protection (IAFP).

      (And that’s just the U.S.!)

      This is a mere sliver of what I mean by credible information and sources Mark. Not an obviously biased source as the rawmilkinstitute.org. I can reel out data if you want, but you aren’t going to like it.

      If you can seriously continue to blithely speak of the safety of raw milk to certain populations in spite of the weight of so much learned opposition, then you are simply being irresponsible.

      • Cary says

        Charles,

        Charles how come I drank raw milk through all of my eight pregnancies and gave my children only raw milk and I or they never got sick? Huh Huh? How come none of my friends who did the same never became sick? Because the raw milk scare thing is bull crap. Don’t be so gullible. What happens with these government agencies is they just all jump one agencies bandwagon. One agency (usually bought off by some big corporate diary concern.) will issue some caution or warning and the others agencies just follow suit. They don’t each do their own research. They are too lazy. Believe me. If you think you can trust these compromised govt agencies, you are a fool. Someday, perhaps when the hearts of men are about the common good and not greed, we will be able to trust the govt ( really corporate run) agencies. Really, you are really showing your ignorance. And I know you are going to do your your brick wall impersonation…so go right ahead. It’s entertaining really. I bet you a $100 you are going to respond as if you didn’t comprehend a word I said.

        • Charles Hooper says

          $100 eh? Hmmm…nah, I don’t sell disinformation and I try (imperfectly) not to give it away. I assure you I comprehend what you are saying Cary, I just don’t agree. We are supposed to disagree in this country, that’s why I thank Chris Kresser for allowing dissenting opinions on this site–he isn’t afraid to hear reasoned debate, nor should you.

          In response to your comments:
          a) your evidence is purely anecdotal. I don’t say personal observations aren’t important. I grew up drinking raw milk and so did many of my relatives, with nary a problem I can recall. But would I use that information to argue the safety of raw milk for certain populations? No, I would not.
          b) If there were only a handful of agencies or they conflicted with one another, I would be more dubious. But there are hundreds of such reports from agencies and organizations worldwide. To be fair, there are notable exceptions, like France.
          c) I distrust our government only a little more than I do that of France, but sometimes government does things right. I think that can be said for the CDC and FDAs raw milk cautions. Primarily because they agree with the vast majority of others.

          That was not my brick wall imitation though Cary, so here it goes…hurry…it hurts…ah you missed it! Lighten up, it’s a debate, not a war. A mother of six earns tons of respect, and you definitely have mine.

          • rawmilkmike says

            One more time: Considering how common so called food-borne illness is in this country and the extreme nature of the claims made by raw milk consumers, how long do you think one has to drink raw milk to prove it’s safety and benefit? If you grew up on raw milk you have no idea the health issues you’ve avoided.

  16. Bill says

    Joshua,

    You are painfully uninformed. Please read the article above and then all the comments and then see if you still see things the same way.

    • Joshua says

      Failure to heat milk to kill harmful pathogens is playing with fire. Milk is a PERFECT medium for bacterial growth. Think about what your suggesting to people, your suggesting something that could ruin their life. There is no significant deteriorization of nutrients caused by heating milk to kill pathogens.

      • Charles Hooper says

        I took Mark’s advice and did further research, yet remain unconvinced that raw milk is safe for young children or pregnant women. If you don’t trust the FDAs caution, read those of the UN, Canada, Australia, the UK or Germany. And in many countries where regulations are lax or unenforced, consumers often boil it, especially in Asia.

        To believe these regulations exist solely to benefit the big dairy operations instead of protecting the consumer is like believing Oswald didn’t shoot Kennedy. You can find all the “evidence” you want to support a conspiracy, but under closer scrutiny, it just doesn’t add up.

        There is no conspiracy on behalf of the dairy industry. Instead, it’s as you say Joshua, raw milk is fertile ground for pathogens. One can believe a few people posting here or research why so many international regulations exist. If you do so with an OPEN MIND, you can’t help but reach the same conclusions. If then you continue giving them raw milk, you are playing Russian Roulette with your child’s health and safety.

        People can make all the arguments they want–mostly raw milk producers and consumers–but I would not give it to a child or expecting mother. I have no horse in this race and drank it all the time in my childhood. It’s way too rich and fattening for me to drink now.

        • says

          Considering how common so called food-borne illness is in this country and the extreme nature of the claims made by raw milk consumers, how long do you think one has to drink raw milk to prove it’s safety and benefit? If you grew up on raw milk you have no idea the health issues you’ve avoided.

        • Cary says

          Charles,
          I suggest you read the new issue of Time magazine that has an article about Butter on the cover. The new research shows that science has been wrong about butter, whole milk, (saturated fats) being the cause of obesity and heart disease. (The usda advocates for the ag industry) It turns out the USDA recommendations were completely flawed and bad science. It turns out sugar and cooked carbs are the major cause of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes etc. Read the article and get back to me. The lesson here. The USDA,
          FDA, CDC can be wrong. Maybe not purposely. But they are human and you have to be CAREFUL what you believe and who you listen to, even the diety you call government.

          • Charles Hooper says

            Hi Cary, my argument is only as complicated as you want to make it and has nothing to do with whether the FDA missed the mark or whether butter and milk are unhealthy or not, nor do I argue that the FDA, et al are infallible.

            My argument all along has been that enough information exists (from governmental and health organizations in other countries, for example) to support caution giving raw milk products to pregnant women and children.

            Trust me, I am careful with sources, but your reliance on Time Magazine as a primary source indicates you are not. There simply is not enough CREDIBLE research to support the safety of raw milk products consumed by children and pregnant women.

            • Cary, says

              Charles,
              I have been watching you debate the whole forum here and I think it is safe to say. Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.

              • Charles Hooper says

                Not quite brick Cary, but resistant to bad arguments. I’ve been saying the same thing since my first post…it is not responsible to promote raw milk as safe for pregnant women and children to consume. That’s all, so call me a wall.

                International research is abundant and there is a reason pasteurization is considered one of the major health advancements in history.

                Visit any cemetery over 100 years old and you will see them filled with the graves of young children. Infectious disease was the major killer of children (and adults), and many of those pathogens came from water and foods (including milk).

                It’s unfortunately too easy to malign the FDA and ignore their achievements in improving food safety.

      • says

        About 48 million people (That’s 15% per year or 1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average American get diarrhea 4 times a year.

        What is it you hope to avoid?

        • Charles Hooper says

          Perhaps avoiding food-borne illnesses, hospitalization and death…oh yeah, and diarrhea for children and pregnant women.

          • rawmilkmike says

            Avoiding raw milk does not prevent “food-borne illnesses, hospitalization and death…oh yeah, and diarrhea for children and pregnant women.” You own statistics show that avoiding raw milk only increases “food-borne illnesses, hospitalization and death…oh yeah, and diarrhea for children and pregnant women.”

  17. Joshua says

    My neice almost died and suffers from a disease she will have for the rest of her life due to drinking raw milk from a licensed raw milk dairy. My Grandmother when asked what she thought about raw milk said “I would never go back to unpasteurized milk.. it was terrible in those days, we watched babies die from diseases in raw milk.” I took that as wise advice.

    I think the latest fads about health food are getting down right scary. Suddenly it is “unhealthy” to clean our foods anymore. Now foods like sushi “raw fish” are considered safe and healthy by some folks and heating milk to kill bacteria is somehow turning the milk into an unhealthy food.

    There has been well over 100 years of study on the subject of making food safe to eat. Pasteurization was developed to solve a problem and I think it is nieve to believe that thousands of years of food development is suddenly wrong and we should go to eating everything raw again. I learned about microorganisms in 6th grade science class and the importance cooking food. I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out the risks are great.

    Some say that we need to be exposed to more microorganisms so that our bodies learn to resist them. At some level this must certainly be true. The problem is that with products like unpasteurized milk you cannot control which microorganisms your exposed to. It could be anything from yeast to ecoli.

  18. says

    TB is not a significant raw milk risk. Here is why. A state of CA veterinarian said once, a mother always protects her young.
    What this means is this: When a mother has TB it is the antiboidies to TB that are shared with her offspring…not generally the actual TB itself. Now, if the TB infection is in the udder, the TB obviously gets into the milk, but if the TB is some place else in the cow, like the lungs, then it is the antibodies that are found in the raw milk and not the actual TB itself. That is why cows are an excellent animal to be used for immune milk. Immune milk has been shown to be a very effective and curative method to heal diseases in man. To make immune milk, just inject the cow with the infection found in man during the dry period just prior to calving. When the calf is born the colostrum will carry the antibody to the human infection that was shared with the cow. Other countries arround the world like Germany and Russia use this therapy. The FDA will jail a farmer for playing doctor like this. I fact there have been several dairy farmers prosecuted for providing immune milk to consumers. According to the FDA this makes the farmer a drug company.

  19. Blair Schaan says

    lived onj dairy d\farm from 1960 to n67 and we milked 100 cows and we drank milk when thirsty mother cooked with raw milks we drank it with meals used with cereals. and never died places like CDC and FDA have to try and justify their existance so they say things are dangerous to eat, funny more people get sick from contaminated vegetables or fruits or sea foods then raw milk.

    Its like Cancer, no one will find a cure for cancer sadly to say the drug industry makes to much money providing medications chemo therapy etc and doctors and researchers would all lose their jobs because research wouldnt be needed anymore a cure was found.
    I also believe a cure for the common cold will never happen, it it did just look at the empty shelves at your local drug store which are stocked with cold medications liquids pills capsules rubs etc, imagine the billions the manufactuing companies would lose when their products no longer wanted or needed?? Society always needs its bogeyman so we cant donate and so thes e researchers have a job, just saying

  20. Mary says

    I like raw goats milk quite a bit but, lately I have been thinking about toxoplasmosis risks. I know goats can get it if cats that are infected with the parasite are kept near by. If you are culturing the milk to make kefir, does this destroy the parasite/oocytes?

  21. Charles Hooper says

    Mark McAfee…now that’s how to maturely argue! You give me food for thought and make me want to know more. Civil debate is an excellent way to learn something. When it comes to children and pregnant women, I’ve got some convincing to do, but you lead me in a few directions to follow.

    An example of a ridiculous argument (almost as bad as Mark S.) is somebody who sent me a message (maybe it hasn’t posted yet) about the CDC director being charged with child molestation. What in the world does that have to do with whether raw milk is safe for children and pregnant women? There are creeps throughout society…

  22. Charles Hooper says

    I’m happy for you Joey…enjoy it. I’m talking about misinforming people about the risks to women and children, not whether adults should drink it or not. Do you understand the difference? To illustrate, you can buy all the liquor you want, and even though its not good for you that is your business. But you certainly wouldn’t give it to a child, right?

    Yes Mary, that is a curiosity that only the webmaster can solve. It just doesn’t bode well for objectivity and leaves some wondering, “Wow, I wonder what happened to that kid and whether the milk was the problem or not?”.

  23. says

    Mary and Charles,

    I agree…I am biased, I am in love with high quality raw milk…I love the challenge of the pioneering experience and most of all I love the hugs I get from deeply appreciative moms that provide OPDC raw milk to their kids. Yes….to their kids. I also love the thanks I get from the pregnant moms that drink OPDC raw milk. When they give birth their cord blood reflects an entirely different anti body profile and this is a gift to their babies that lasts a lifetime!!! NO ASTHMA!!!

    Both of you have the science very wrong. Listeria is the bug you worry about when pregnant!!! THE CDC HAS ZERO INCIDENTS OF RAW MILK CAUSING MISSCARRIAGE OR DEATH RELATED TO LISTERIA in USA PRODUCED RAW MILK!! ZERO. All of the issues and deaths have come from dear old FDA beloved pasteurized products….all of them!! Including about 77 deaths mostly from LISTERIA!!

    So get your facts straight. It is one thing to argue based on true facts it is quite another to not know your facts and especially official data like CDC.

    Mary….you know that I completely agree with you about ecoli 0157H7 and kids. But you also know that RAWMI LISTED producers have tackled this problem with the use of RAMP plans and testing. You know that a coliform count of less than 10 basically ( most of our tests show less than 3 or even less than 1 ) makes it statistically near impossible and highly improbable that any one of any age will become sick from raw milk ecoli pathogens. Even our CDFA state dairy inspectors say this.

    Nadines work has been accepted by the most conservative regulatory agency in the world…the Canadians that forbid raw milk. So….we need to stop considering all raw milk dangerous and start thinking of raw milk as a “grey scale of risk”….from higher risk ( Grade A raw milk that is intended for pasteurization ) and Grade A raw milk that is tested, inspected, under tight controls like RAMP and RAWMI etc…that is intended for human consumption. Both come out of a cow…but are they different!!!

    We are not talking about ONE RAW MILK in America. Raw milk quality and safety directly reflects the conditions and safety programs that produce it.

    There is a reason why raw milk is classified in the EU as a “low risk food”. The systems we have applied at Raw Milk Institute.ORG completely bypass and surpass the standards in the EU.

    Times are changing. When 9 kids die each day ( mostly in ER rooms or going to ER’s in ambulances ) from Asthma…and we know that asthma is effectively treated and prevented by raw milk….that is a travesty. ( PARSIFAL, GABRIELA, PASTURE, AMISH EU studies ). We must embrace nutrition as a basis for health. Our dear ER nurse that talks about all the sick kids in the ER fails to appreciate that these ER sick kids are a direct result of very weak immune systems, that are related to anti-biotic abuse and a sterile sugar based fast food or highly processed diet. Kids that drink raw milk and eat whole foods generally have very robust immunity and do not ever go to ER’s for treatment…except for maybe a broken bone and that is rare because their bones are stronger.

    I know all of this….My wife is a 25 year MSRN and I spent 17 years of my life on a helipcopter and in ambulances and I was an EMT-Paramedic ( ran 15000 EMS calls and saw it all at least three times ) that taught EMS advanced life support and prehospital medicine at the Fresno Co. Health Department.

    Yes I own and operate OPDC with a deeply dedicated team of people that embrace safety and RAMP plans and we are not perfect….but pretty damn close as we apply better technology and learn from every little thing that comes our way.

    Pretty soon…there will be no fluid pasteurized milk to defend….it is dying at 2% per year becuase it is listed as the MOST allergenic food in America adn at least 30% of the consumers can not digest it….it is shelf stable and your gut is not a shelf!!

    Start waving that white flag of surrender…raw milk is an emerging market and consumers dollar vote for it every single day.

  24. Mary McGonigle-Martin says

    Charles, I think the most alarming thing you posted was that the comment about the possible sick child from contaminated raw milk was removed. No bias operating here.

  25. Charles Hooper says

    And this folks, is what happens to somebody like Mark when you render their arguments biased and worse than irrelevant. Keep those teats clean!

  26. Charles Hooper says

    That’s the spirit Paula! I wish you and your clients the best. Enjoy your raw milk, I just ask some voice in the back of your head ask you to be sure and careful about that when it comes to young children and pregnant women.

    People on this very forum have spoken about their own experiences with children sickened by tainted raw milk.
    I’ve not mentioned but will now that I do have personal knowledge of its danger to children, having seen many cases of infection in the ER and other areas of medical practice. Do you think they and people like me take our time to throw in our two-cents worth just to bring out profound commentary like “nice try” from somebody who sells the stuff?

    I make no profit here, I only work in medicine because I serve the public’s health. It’s heartbreaking to see severe sickness and death because of the folly of well-meaning parents who put political and personal agendas above the health of their children.

    Mark S., you darn right it was! I can tell when somebody has made a strong point here when you salute them with a “nice try.” Hilariously ironic…

    Would you say that the man who was posting an “as we speak” report about his sick daughter was making so nice a try that his comments have been removed from the discussion? Is that any worse than alleged FDA and CDC cover-ups?

    I see from one of your posts that you are a vendor as well, which negates your objectivity and renders most of what you say to be a “nice try…” Oh, I forgot the irony…NOT!

    So let’s here it Mark…”nic. …”

  27. Ira Goldberg says

    Oy Vey Charles Hooper,

    You really got the CDC’s back and those of their ilk?

    CDC Director Arrested for Child Molestation and Bestiality

    Story at-a-glance
    A high-ranking CDC official, who played a significant role in the 2009 H1N1 propaganda campaign, has been arrested and charged with two counts of child molestation and one count of bestiality
    As an official in charge of CDC health recommendations for all American children, her actions raise troublesome questions about her level of concern for the health and well-being of children in general
    Other recent stories raising questions about the ethics and integrity of the agency include documentation showing that the CDC has never obtained any input from toxicology experts to assess the health effects of water fluoridation, and the recent fraud indictment of Dr. Thorsen—hired by the CDC to debunk the link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism. Geesh. Charles do you really expect your reputation to withstand this?
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/28/cdc-director-arrested-for-child-molestation–bestiality.aspx

    And then the CDC rehires the louse.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/12/01/cdc-official-accused-child-molestation-bestiality-returns-to-work/

  28. Joe Konrad says

    I Just want to let you all know I’m Going up to the Farm to get my weekly supply of 2 gallons of (REAL MILK) Its something I love to do.

  29. says

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear. . .

    Common sense and tradition show me that raw milk from grass fed cows is beneficial in health to both adults/children.

  30. Charles Hooper says

    Of course you have a horse in the race Paula…One side of your mouth says you don’t while the other side clearly indicates you do…Giddy-up!

    • says

      Misinterpretation again . . .

      I don’t “profit” from the sales of raw milk or how many people drink or don’t drink other than my clients/families are healthier and perform better.

      If you consider that “a horse in the race” so be it. Better move over cause it’s a racehorse.

  31. Charles Hooper says

    “I don’t need years of research or flawed studies funded from corrupt sources to show what common sense/tradition clearly show me.”

    ’nuff said there Paula.

  32. says

    I don’t have a “horse in the race” and I am not a “raw milk vendor” and there is 1 reason and 1 reason only “over 30 states and dozens of countries ban its widespread sales…” it’s dangerous to their bottom line. Sadly, it’s about the money–they don’t give a rats a$$ about our health or the health of our children. They are a greedy and unethical lot.

    Who am I? A 54 year old fit female CrossFit affiliate that has seen dramatic health changes personally from the consumption of raw milk. Along with many clients and their many children. Allergies, behavioral and other health issues have virtually disappeared from these children after switching to raw milk.

    I don’t need years of research or flawed studies funded from corrupt sources to show what common sense/tradition clearly show me.

  33. Charles Hooper says

    Interesting that Nayak’s post about his sick child is not here anymore…what’s that all about?

    Anyway, here is an example of a RESPONSIBLE report on raw milk’s safety for children.
    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/09/is-raw-milk-safe-e-coli

    Parents, read this and research further before you let your kids drink it. Mark McAfee is a raw milk vendor, so one can hardly expect objectivity from him. I don’t know anything about Mark S. other than him being mule headed (his absurd “Nice try” responses).

    There is a reason over 30 states and dozens of countries ban its widespread sales…it’s dangerous to children. If you’re an adult and want to drink it that’s one thing. But to give it to children believing it is safe is just plain stupid, and in some areas would be considered child neglect and criminal.

    I bothered taking the time to look at this presentation suggested by Mark, focusing on the author’s references—both their sources and critiques–and was astonished at how much evidence the author relied on clearly demonstrating the risks. It was also disheartening that Mark left out the author’s disclosure at the beginning of her paper that she is “Not Neutral” and advocates for “regulatory reform,” ie to relax Canadian milk protection laws, and that her paper is based on “independent unfunded research.” Here’s a few references supplied by this same author in her paper that make it clear raw milk is not safe for children:

    Richwald, Ga; Greenland, S; Johnson, Bj; Friedland, Jm; Goldstein, Ejc; Plichta, Dt, 1988: Assessment of the excess risk of Salmonella dublin infection associated with the use of certified raw milk. Public health reports 103(5): 489-493

    Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2009 Sep;6(7):793-806. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2009.0302.
    Food safety hazards associated with consumption of raw milk.
    Oliver SP, Boor KJ, Murphy SC, Murinda SE.

    Dr. Ynte Schukken, professor of epidemiology and herd health at Cornell University, co-authored a paper in the August issue of the Journal of Food Production quantifying the risk of contracting Listeria monocytogenes from raw milk. According to the study, raw milk from retailers proved most dangerous.

    Campylobacter jejuni Infections Associated with Unpasteurized Milk — Multiple States, 2012

    Allison H. Longenberger1,2,
    Aimee Palumbo2,
    Alvina Chu3,
    Mària Moll2,
    André Weltman2, and
    Stephen Ostroff2

    And the list goes on and on.

    She even ignores critiques of studies she cites on evidence of raw milk’s asthma prevention characteristics among children, such as this one:
    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2802%2907721-8/fulltext

    And even after a lengthy and flawed presentation, the author admits:
    “While it is clear that there remains some appreciable risk of food-borne illness from raw milk consumption, public health bodies should now update their policies and informational materials to reflect the most high-quality evidence, which characterizes this risk as low,” said Ijaz. “Raw milk producers should continue to use rigorous management practices to minimize any possible remaining risk.”

    Mark picked a poor example to support his argument, especially when you skim the cream off these kinds of “studies.” It turns out the researcher was biased, her research was independent and unfunded, and the sources she cites are damning to her own argument.

    If you have a horse in the race Mark, admit what it is so readers know where you are coming from. My horse is not raw milk per se, rather it’s accurate reporting and the safety of those who cannot advocate for themselves.

    As I see it, the research is comparable to this: You look along a shelf of 40 books about the safety of raw milk for children. Mark ignores the 35 that say it is not safe and reads only the five that says it is, and does so with nary a critical eye, as he has done with this paper. As you say Mark, “nice try.”

  34. Mary McGonigle-Martin says

    Mark S. Last year I watched her entire presentation. I have also reviewed the three studies she sites. Her interpretation of these studies is weak at best. She also states that there is one flaw in her presentation of the numbers. They don’t know if there is a vulnerable group getting sick. For example, children. That would change everything.

    I can tell you there is a vulnerable group getting sick from E.coli 0157:H7 and contaminated raw milk–it is children and the majority are under 10. Shame on Nadine for not looking into this further. The outbreak reports are available. It just takes reading them all the come to the very clear conclusion that children are the victims of kidney damage after consuming contaminated raw milk.

  35. Mark S says

    New Studies Confirm: Raw Milk A Low-Risk Food

    Washington DC, June 11, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Three quantitative microbial risk assessments (QMRAs) recently published in the Journal of Food Protection have demonstrated that unpasteurized milk is a low-risk food, contrary to previous, inappropriately-evidenced claims suggesting a high-risk profile. These scholarly papers, along with dozens of others, were reviewed on May 16, 2013 at the Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver, BC (Canada), during a special scientific Grand Rounds presentation entitled “Unpasteurized milk: myths and evidence.”

    The reviewer, Nadine Ijaz, MSc, demonstrated how inappropriate evidence has long been mistakenly used to affirm the “myth” that raw milk is a high-risk food, as it was in the 1930s. Today, green leafy vegetables are the most frequent cause of food-borne illness in the United States. British Columbia CDC’s Medical Director of Environmental Health Services, Dr. Tom Kosatsky, who is also Scientific Director of Canada’s National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health,welcomed Ms. Ijaz’s invited presentation as “up-to-date” and “a very good example of knowledge synthesis and risk communication.”
    See the whole report below:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130611-909875.html?mod=wsj_share_facebook

  36. says

    Wow. This thread has continued for almost 2 years. IMHO it needn’t be so complicated. Pasteurized milk (high vat, low vat–doesn’t really matter–only varying by degrees) is a toxic and allergenic “food” and shouldn’t be fed to anyone. Raw milk, from grass fed cows, properly handled from a researched/trusted source is the way to go. If you do not have access there are plenty of other real and whole foods to choose from. Go raw or go home. End of story.

  37. says

    About little Deeps fever,

    I do share Marys advice.

    However, as a parent you need to also know that a fever is very common in children. A fever is an adaptive and very natural response. Its your bodies way of increasing metabolism to ward off an intruder. Just because the baby drank raw milk does not mean that there is a problem. Babies get fevers from alal sorts of things. yes…raw milk can be one of them. Ear infections, teething, exposure to nearly anything…all can be a cause of fever. The big mistakes are overmedicating with fever reducers, failure to hydrate. Watch for diarrhea and vomiting especially prolonged in duration. The dehydration is what really gets kids into trouble. My wife is a nurse and I spent half my life as a paramedic responding to freaked out parents with kids and fevers.

    Watch for rash and stiff necks and lethargy. These are associated with meningitis. When in doubt and things do not get better as they should, go see a competitant doctor and tell the everything. By the way…all of my grand kids started on OPDC raw milk at 4-6 months old and all have thrived!!

    Whos raw milk did you drink? was it in CA? if it was OPDC I want to have a call on my cell. We take all raw milk related illness even if it is just a hunch…..very seriously and want a call right away. 5599705581 Mark

  38. Charles Hooper says

    See what I mean folks? Information needs to be from reputable sources, not these kinds of articles. People should take extra care when talking about health risks to pay special attention to the risks to children…my point all along.

    However, Nayak only a doctor can tell help you and your child. Right now it could be anything and that’s the doctor’s job to figure out. But since you did give this baby raw milk contrary to health warnings (that you won’t find here) I would be sure to mention that to the doctor. I will pray for the little guy and wish you well.

  39. Mary McGonigle-Martin says

    Deep Nayak just posted a comment and it came in to my inbox, but I can’t find the post here in this thread.

    He was describing how he has fed his 11 month old baby raw milk for the first time two days ago and now has developed fever.

    My son became quite ill from raw milk and the first symptom was a fever that developed two days later. It took another two days for the explosive diarrhea and vomiting to begin. If she starts having diarrhea do not hesitate taking her to the emergency room immediately and have a fecal sample taken. You can not mess around with a child your daughters age if she has contracted a foodborne illness.

    • Deep Nayak says

      Thanks Mary and Chris. Sorry for a delay in replying. To give you updates on my case, the next morning my daughter got rid of her temperature, so we didn’t go to emergency however that risen again the following day and again yesterday. Strangely her fever goes away when given baby paracetamol but then again comes back in few hours. No signs of diarrhoea or vomiting, thankfully so we are still hoping this would not be anything to do with raw milk I fed her few days ago. Wife is taking her to GP today for investigation.

      I sincerely hope this does not put people off from consuming raw milk because the reason behind my daughter’s current illness is still inconclusive. My wife and I are certainly continuing drinking raw milk everyday but would wait for our little one to grow a bit older before we reintroducing it.

      Chris, I live in the UK and I get my organic raw milk from Goodwood Farm Shop in West Sussex, so called quite a reputed place in the country.

  40. Charlene says

    James,

    Are you saying pasteurization gets rid of prebiotics that prevent blockage to neuropathways and allows the population to be more easily mind-controlled?

  41. Mark S says

    James,
    I think you are the perfect example of someone who is unable to fixate his thoughts. I suggest you lay off the pasteurized milk!

    • james says

      It’s not a try, its a truth. Whatever species humans have evolved from, it involved an EEA (an era of evolutionary adaptiveness) where we spent a lot of time with fixated concentration on the external environment as we hunted for food. At that time, our muscle movements, with special reference to our limbs, were more closely related to eyemovements, and our food drive came to be associated with our eye movements. Later in our evolution, during the EEA when as early humans we developed language as a consequence of hunting and living together in extended society, we disociated the eye movements from limb movements as we abstracted conceptual language from environment to thought. That there is still an enormous relationship between thought and eye movements can be seen from the vestigial relationship between thought and the venous system that underlies the apprehension of succesful eye movements, in that people with PTSD and depression, those who spend a lot of time thinking have bags under their eyes. That the food drive, in terms of the nervous complex underlying the ceacum, is related to the fixation of thought is obviated in situations like alzheimers, where the ill health of the ceacum underlies an inability to fixate thought, and because of the extra effort required to fixate thought, combined with poor vascular health, the central nervous system develops plaques that affect the functioning of the nervous system, such that Alzheimers develops.
      That milk comes with a prebiotic that keeps the ceacum clean is a matter for ‘best fit’ models of the evolution of the underlying technology and that pasteurisation can render us with less ability to fixate our thought and therefore render us with an increased chance of being hypnotised is not a moot point but an entirely testable theory. Before discounting something its really better to test for the validity of that assertion.

  42. james says

    did you know that industrial dairy milk comes without the natural probiotic due to its pasteurisation?
    The natural probiotic keeps the ceacum clean of excess calcium, which otherwise (such as when you drink industrial milk) blocks the ionic channels that allow for the osmosis of nutrients (especially salts) into the blood system. The link between the health of the ceacum and an individual’s ability to fixate their thoughts at will is not well known, for some reason not much research into this area gets funding. But essentially, if you remember the old adage – if there’s a witch in the house then the milk goes stale and the bread doesn’t rise, it is because the witch heats the milk, effectively pasteurising it (the bread doesn’t rise due to the water being powdered which affects the adrenal glands). With a diminished ability to fixate your thoughts at will, you are more likely to succumb to hypnosis, such as suggestion, or what is currently knowlingly allowed as the use of implicit memory in television and internet adverts. Perhaps this is why the CDC fake the research and give raw milk a bad name.

  43. says

    RAWMI does not send out ” how to” packages to farmers. We do however invite any farmer to apply to become Listed. Just go to http://www.rawmilkinstitute.org and fill out the application. All farmers can review the LISTED farmers food safety plans. RAWMI will then work with the farmer to develop a Grass to Glass food safety plan that would work for them.

  44. Francesca says

    This is certainly a stain on the reputation of CDC.
    “CDC Director Arrested for Child Molestation and Bestiality”
    A high-ranking CDC official, who played a significant role in the 2009 H1N1 propaganda campaign, has been arrested and charged with two counts of child molestation and one count of bestiality
    As an official in charge of CDC health recommendations for all American children, her actions raise troublesome questions about her level of concern for the health and well-being of children in general.
    Other recent stories raising questions about the ethics and integrity of the agency include documentation showing that the CDC has never obtained any input from toxicology experts to assess the health effects of water fluoridation, and the recent fraud indictment of Dr. Thorsen—hired by the CDC to debunk the link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism”
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/28/cdc-director-arrested-for-child-molestation–bestiality.aspx

    By the way, the American Academy of Pediatrics takes their recommendations from info they receive from the CDC. As an example, the AAP and CDC both cite two deaths from raw milk. However this has so beautifully been called into question by Mark Macffee’s freedom of information search and finding that the two deaths were from ILLEGALLY imported ( smuggled ) bath tub cheeses from Mexico and not USA raw milk!!!. Should we give these alphabet agencies a blank check of credibility when they pull stunts like this? Maybe not. And what is their end game on raw milk and who stands to benefit from making it illegal?

    Lastly, are people aware that pasteurized milk sales are plummeting?

  45. Francesca says

    To Mark Macfee,
    Does your RAWMI provide a booklet or kit I can give my local farm that I get my raw milk from? I don’t know how to broach the subject with them. Maybe you might have thought this all out.
    Francesca

  46. says

    Joanna,

    I totally agree with you. Not all raw milk is created equally. It is unfortunate that our society has instead decided to make pasteurized milk the norm under one set of FDA PMO standards and completely disregard the standards for raw milk production.

    Each state has determined what it wants to do with raw milk standards and most states have ignored this challenge. This leaves the raw milk consumer in a completely confused situation.

    In CA with OPDC, we have gone far beyond the state standards and any other standards and created our own standards with the assistance of the Raw Milk Institute. ORG

    This pioneering step makes OPDC raw milk in a class of its own. This is good and this is also lonely. Unless you do some study you really would have no knowledge of what very low risk OPDC raw milk is and or how we produce it.

    We have had people move back to CA becuase of our raw milk. Asthma goes away with OPDC raw milk!!! and it is very safe.

    The same safety can not be said of most raw milk in America…that can run the gambit from low risk to high risk depending on a million variables.

  47. Joanna says

    I commented a while back, but feel I need to say something here…

    I think that for healthy adults, raw milk is awesome. Whenever I go to CA, I get some OP raw milk and drink like a gallon a week.

    I also think that raw milk made under good condition is largely safe.

    That being said, NO food is 100% safe. Not strawberries, not spinach, not meat, not even raw milk. Everything carries some risk, and you need to do a cost/benefit analysis. If the risk falls on your kids, and something happens to them, it won’t matter if the risk was 0.00001%. To you it’s a tragedy.

    I don’t feed my son raw milk IN AMERICA, because it’s not well regulated. In many countries in Europe, raw milk is regulated by the government. They test every batch. Because of that, it’s a very safe food. I would feed it to my kids there in a heartbeat. I’d drink it while pregnant.

    It’s not all black and white. Do I feed my kid raw greens? Yes, because I feel that I can’t get the benefits in another food. Raw greens are special. Do I feed him raw milk in the US? No, because I feel that pastured, high quality VAT pasteurized milk is a good substitute. If I only had access to raw milk or UHT milk for example, I would probably drink the raw milk for a few days as a test subject, then feed it to him, assuming I felt he really needed it. I’m glad I have access to high quality VAT past milk and don’t need to make a choice. I wish the US would stop being hard headed about raw milk and would test it and make sure it’s safe, instead of making it near contraband food.

    And while I’m sure OP has good ways of ensuring the safety of their milk… Not everyone lives in CA, and we can’t be sure that all dairies are as scrupulous. So telling people that raw milk is safe everywhere, anytime, is not a good thing I think…

    That’s my 2 cents…

    • Charles Hooper says

      I think that’s more like a nickel’s worth Joanna, lots of interesting information, for example I didn’t know that raw milk is more regulated in Europe than here. Thanks for the post.

  48. Charles Hooper says

    Oh boy, a Holocaust denier? I’ll read your links Mark, but you really should address categorizing people who disagree with you. It’s that kind of blind thinking, my friend, that leads to things like the Holocaust, racism…fill in the blank.

    I’m talking about an article that leaves out important information, especially for children and pregnant women, while you, on the other hand are talking about hatred, plain and simple.

    I don’t watch the news Mark, because I agree with you that Fox has an agenda. So do most other networks. I just read stuff, like this, cause I like to learn and debate.

    I don’t know where you got this out of my posts:
    “Those who believes that anyone who exposes the AAP,FDA and CDC as not being truly independent organizations are conspiracy theorists, need to look again.” You’re ranting here Mark…go get glass of warm milk and settle yourself. I appreciate the links Mark.

  49. Mark S says

    From the Movie The Matrix:
    Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

    To those of you who who listen to Fox News,Rush Limbaugh and think the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics are squeaky clean, please read this report:
    “How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public’s Expense”
    by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
    From the Movie The Matrix:
    Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

    To those of you who who listen to Fox News,Rush Limbaugh and think the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics are not eligible to be vetted, please read this report:
    “How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public’s Expense”
    by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    These are scientists, who are not affiliated with any corporate interests, and are to be trusted. Denying the influence of corporate influence on the AAP, FDA and CDC is no different than being a Holocaust denier.
    Those who believes that anyone who exposes the AAP,FDA and CDC as not being truly independent organizations are conspiracy theorists, need to look again. Educate yourself.
    “How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public’s Expense”
    by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
    http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/scientific_integrity/how-corporations-corrupt-science.pdf

    These are scientists, who are not affiliated with any corporate interests, and are to be trusted. Denying the influence of corporate influence on the AAP, FDA and CDC is no different than being a Holocaust denier.
    Those who believes that anyone who exposes the AAP,FDA and CDC as not being truly independent organizations are conspiracy theorists, need to look again. Educate yourself.
    “How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public’s Expense”
    by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
    http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/scientific_integrity/how-corporations-corrupt-science.pdf

  50. Charles Hooper says

    I don’t agree that anything about this issue is “laughable” Charlene, and you insult your own intelligence by not getting my point.

    You somehow extrapolate a discussion I initiated on an article about raw milk into a completely different and totally unrelated subject. Those numbers are indeed horrible, but my beef is this writer ignoring established information that children and pregnant women should not drink raw milk. As far as this discussion goes, it doesn’t matter how many people died from prescription drug abuse, distracted driving, homicide or any of the other stupid ways people harm themselves and others.

    As I said in an earlier post, my beef isn’t so much with raw milk, it’s how (sources) people irresponsibly provide and gain information on something potentially dangerous.

    What I say is clear as mud Charlene (beautiful name, I was named after my Aunt Charlene). Don’t knee jerk to what you read, and take a closer look at what’s being said. I’m not saying raw milk is bad, far more reliable sources than me and this article’s author say it is. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ only stake here is the health and safety of children. If you disbelieve that Charlene, then I’m wasting my breath, er fingertips.

  51. Charles Hooper says

    “Who do you work for Charles?…getting paid to shill for the big boys? Like you would implicate yourself.” Looks like you stuffed my straw first there, Mark. There’s nothing lazy or energetic about what I say, and you certainly aren’t debating anything, you’re just making a statement, the same thing I’m doing. We just happen to disagree.

    “Money interests can buy off and control any organization they want and they do…Such being the case, it is incumbent on any thinking person to be skeptical of any official government agency being unbiased. The rapacious nature of certain human beings and corporations must be acknowledged.
    The reputation and credibility of the govt organizations like the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics have been called into question.” Sounds fairly conspiratorial to me, Mark.

    But hey, you make my point quite nicely when you say “Unfortunately, scientific misconduct and fraudulent research has become a very serious and widespread problem that threatens the entire paradigm of science-based medicine.
    Again and again, papers assessing the prevalence of scientific fraud and/or the impact this is having shows that the situation is dire and getting worse. In short, we have lost scientific integrity,” All I’m saying is this article is an example of the very problem you (and I) raise.

  52. Mark S says

    Charles Cooper,
    I love how lazy debaters try to win an argument by labeling the opponent a “conspiracy theorist”, so they can be dismissed. I think that is what in logic is called the “straw man “.
    You smear someone to make it easier to attack their position. By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone’s argument, it’s much easier to present your own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine honest rational debate.

  53. says

    Charles Cooper,

    I can say with absolute confidence that the 2 raw milk deaths that are reported in the CDC records reach back to 1972. I have a Freedom of Information Act Request ( FOIA ) response from the CDC that researched these two deaths. The two deaths were from ILLEGALLY imported ( smuggled ) bath tub cheeses from Mexico and not USA raw milk!!!.

    I know for a fact that the CDC data is related to Mexican cheese and not any thing related to a US fluid raw milk.

    I also know that the CDC records show at least 430,000 illnesses since 1972 from pasteurized dairy products and at least 77 deaths if the 1985 Jalisco pasteurized cheese outbreak is included with its 49 deaths. The last 9 deaths from pasteurized products happened since 2007 with 3 from pasteurized milk and 6 from pasteurized cheeses.

    It is absolutely accurate to report that there have been zero deaths reported to the CDC since 1972 from fluid raw milk produced in the USA.

    • Charles Hooper says

      As I said Mark S., some people aren’t going to listen to reason. In fact some don’t listen at all. You seem to have an aversion to the scientific method, dismiss organizations such as the AAP and have a conspiratorial view of the world, even from organizations that help save countless lives. Your rant spirals upward to a final effort to insult me personally. I don’t know a soul in this debate, drank plenty of raw milk in my youth without getting sick nary a time. I just read something and conclude its informational value. I think this is an interesting article, but don’t believe it a very reliable source for learning about the subject. If you don’t agree, that’s fine by me.

      Mark McAfee, makes a more interesting argument…if he can support it. Can you post any of your source information?

      I can’t argue with your pasteurized milk information as I have not researched it, so I would value your source. But right out the gate, I think you compare apples to oranges when you consider the numbers of people who drink raw vs. processed milk.

      I still categorically say you have no way of knowing definitively that nobody has died in your time frame from consuming raw milk. Given that the AAP’s time frame is 11 years and yours is over 42, I am especially dubious of your claim.

      I’m forever the student, and would love more rigorous information comparing the two.

    • says

      To the writer who thinks that we raw milk users are stooges of the raw milk industry:
      I can understand your wariness with the ‘pro” comments, especially in light of recent (duh) allegations regarding companies stacking reviewing website with positive remarks.
      However, speaking for myself, for me, the raw milk knocks me (and my husband) out at night for a full and uninterrupted sleep, fulfills (via homemade kefir) my appetite, and just makes me feel better.
      Also, I can appreciate your hesitancy and fear about drinking “not sanitized” in our day of flesh eating bacteria, anti biotic resistant drugs, and critter infested shopping carts. If you are so worried about raw milk, have you done your homework about the spray washes on apples and pears? or the chlorine washes on conventional eggs? and what about the cantaloupes and lettuce and other produce that get pulled from supermarket shelves due to bacterial contamination in commerical farming? After a week of two, we don’t hear too much flack about that, do we?
      This is govt and BIG FARMA/DAIRYA who spew safety yet cannot watch the hen house close enough for their own products.
      Think on this: if there had been or has been SO many deaths and illnesses due to raw milk, well, don’t you just think that govt inspectors would be all over the raw milk industry? Shutting them down left and right? Getting on ABC, NBC, CBS, and the rest of the alphabet stations trumpeting yet another alternative lifestyle shutdown?
      In my area, raw milk producers are coming out in droves and selling like crazy. We buyers are not ignorant–rather I would make a generalization and spew back that we are better informed because we HAVE done the research, as opposed to taking someone else’s word for it.
      May I suggest that you do the weeks of research that I did before I took the plunge and THEN make you opinion; you might end up voting differently, too.

      • Charles Hooper says

        Hi Wendy, I’m going out on a limb here and assume you are referring to my post. If so, I never said anything about somebody being “stooges of the raw milk industry.” I’m just saying I think this article runs counter to what I see as research from more reliable sources. Like I said, I drank raw milk many years without a single problem and knew of nobody else having a problem, so I have no horse in the race. My beef (unintended pun) isn’t with raw milk, it’s with bad, even biased, reporting.

        I realize we live in a toxic environment, but I don’t think advocating the safety of raw milk by simply tossing out odds statistics is responsible reporting. Especially without clearly warning that it is dangerous for pregnant women and children to consume it.

        This has nothing to do with whether the government can be evil or not, or that there are other things more dangerous. I don’t think I can make my point any clearer. If you believe the AAP is ” govt and BIG FARMA/DAIRYA,” then you fall into the same camp as Mark S., and do your cause little justice.

        You kinda went off the rails toward the end of your post there, Wendy. But I do appreciate your passion and willingness to stand up for something. Just try and read what somebody actually says before you criticize, well, what you think they said…makes sense, right?

  54. Charles Hooper says

    Be wary of these kinds of articles, which are little more than advertorials and professions of faith in particular causes. This man is an acupuncturist, not a pediatrician, nutritionist or even biologist.

    Raw milk is not safe, especially for children. You can rely on this flimsy article or on an organization such as the American Academy of Pediatrics. Read their December 2013 policy statement on raw milk consumption. If you believe these doctors are a band of sinister supporters of the milk industry or pharmaceutical companies, you’re not going to listen to reason anyway.

    Mark, it is wrong for your to say there have been “zero deaths” from raw milk consumption in the U.S. since 1972. In fact, according to the AAP, “From 1998 to 2009, consumption of raw milk products in the U.S. resulted in 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations, 93 illness outbreaks and two deaths.” And nobody, including your PhD. friends can say with certainty they know the cause of every child’s death is not raw milk. Who knows how many raw milk illnesses and deaths escape report? Below is a link to the AAP report and the abstract. Realize this is only U.S. information…it would be interesting to look at the World Health Organization’s justifications for advising the pasteurization of milk.

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/133/1/175

    From the American Academy of Pediatrics

    Policy Statement
    Consumption of Raw or Unpasteurized Milk and Milk Products by Pregnant Women and Children

    COMMITTEE ON INFECTIOUS DISEASES,
    COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION

    Abstract

    Sales of raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products are still legal in at least 30 states in the United States. Raw milk and milk products from cows, goats, and sheep continue to be a source of bacterial infections attributable to a number of virulent pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella species, Brucella species, and Escherichia coli O157. These infections can occur in both healthy and immunocompromised individuals, including older adults, infants, young children, and pregnant women and their unborn fetuses, in whom life-threatening infections and fetal miscarriage can occur. Efforts to limit the sale of raw milk products have met with opposition from those who are proponents of the purported health benefits of consuming raw milk products, which contain natural or unprocessed factors not inactivated by pasteurization. However, the benefits of these natural factors have not been clearly demonstrated in evidence-based studies and, therefore, do not outweigh the risks of raw milk consumption. Substantial data suggest that pasteurized milk confers equivalent health benefits compared with raw milk, without the additional risk of bacterial infections. The purpose of this policy statement was to review the risks of raw milk consumption in the United States and to provide evidence of the risks of infectious complications associated with consumption of unpasteurized milk and milk products, especially among pregnant women, infants, and children.

    • Mark S says

      Sorry Charles, but you made no case specifically why Mr Kresser’s arguments were flimsy. He appears to be just be taking CDC statistics and intelligently putting them into proper perspective. I don’t care if he is an acupuncturist or not. He is intelligent and insightful. I’ll take an intelligent acupuncturist over a university brainwashed, working for the man, biologist any day.
      And unless you just crawled out from under a rock, we are living in a plutocracy. Conflict of interest is pervasive problem within the research field. FDA, CDC etc are staffed in executive positions from former corporate executives they are supposed to be regulating. Money interests can buy off and control any organization they want and they do.
      Unfortunately, scientific misconduct and fraudulent research has become a very serious and widespread problem that threatens the entire paradigm of science-based medicine.
      Again and again, papers assessing the prevalence of scientific fraud and/or the impact this is having shows that the situation is dire and getting worse. In short, we have lost scientific integrity, and without it, “science-based medicine” is just a term without substance.
      Such being the case, it is incumbent on any thinking person to be skeptical of any official government agency being unbiased. The rapacious nature of certain human beings and corporations must be acknowledged.
      The reputation and credibility of the govt organizations like the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics have been called into question. This is a shame they can’t be trusted. When they might be telling the facts, it can go unheeded because they have lost the public trust. It’s like the boy who cried wolf.
      Who do you work for Charles?…getting paid to shill for the big boys? Like you would implicate yourself.

  55. says

    According to PhD’s that I work with…it is practically impossible to have Ecoli 0157H7 or any other ecoli patyhogen found in OPDC raw milk under the post AB 1735 standards and RAWM LISTING RAMP programs that are in use

    With less than 10 coliforms….there can not be enough Ecoli present to cause illness. We also test for ecoli pathogens and have never found it in 14 years of testing. That said…our average coliform population in all of our independent tests ( thats about 180 teste per month reveal less than 3 coliforms. Pasteurized milk ( after processing ) is allowed up to 10 coliforms.
    This is a numbers game. There must be a load of pathogens and if their is not even enough coliforms to form a basis for possible sub-population…then it is impossible.
    Please know that Mary is a mom and that makes her very passionate and I respect that very much. You will find equally passionate moms that would never ever feed their kids anything but OPDC raw milk becuase it has saved their lives fom Asthma…Asthma kills 9 kids a day!!!!!!! There have been zero deaths from raw milk anywhere in the USA since before 1972.

    Just think about this logically. OPDC is perhaps the most innovative producer of raw milk in the world. if you want to dizzy yourself with the true science behind how we do raw milk come visit or see our RAMP plan at http://www.rawmilkinstitute.org you will be amazed!!

  56. StoneyColdCreamy says

    Mark, nice deflection to the challenge. Milk in general unless comming from a woman’s breast shouldn’t be consumed. And the probiotic claims in here are absolutely proven false; you would need to consume hecto-liters in one day to “populate” your intestines with probiotics from milk. Dare I say Chris’s idea of eating human pooh would probably yield better results. You crunchy people always amaze me. You spout off about not trusting the government, FDA, EPA and then vote for the same clowns (democrats) that are in bed with big pharma, farm bills FDA and EPA. Get a clue and vote libertarian if you REALLY feel this way about your government. Better yet vote for Jessie Ventura and Rand Paul and they will be all for your freedom to potentially poison your kids with no Governmental oversight of food. The only thing I will admit to anyone in here having correct is that ANY food can harbor bacteria; pasteurized or not. Marks example of cheese is a great example of that; but its still leprechauns and unicorns if you are trying to tell me raw milk wont go bad or harbor potentially harmful bacteria which exists everywhere and has killed people for tens of thousands of years. Claiming said bacteria is a positive thing in ones life or for that matter needs to be ingested is simply begging for trouble. I triple dog dare you all to go slurp some ecoli, listeria, salmonella, staph or hepatitis and tell me how great you feel. You wont make the night without a hospital and lord knows you will blame it or your katsup or toothpaste rather than the proper suspects. If only drinking dangerous things really gave us super powers like some of you all claim… my trips to the local micro brewery would be oh so much more special. Scratch that; my brewery DOES give me magic powers… the powers to laugh off these insane comments.

  57. Mark S says

    Mary McGonigle-Martin

    For me to make more meaning out of your son having kidney problems, are you certain raw milk was the cause? Could it have been something else he ate? Could it be possible he was going to have this health issue regardless of whether he drank the milk? How many children have the same kidney issue every year who do not consume raw milk? Did others who drank the same batch of raw milk also have issues? Did something go awry with that batch? Something can go awry with any food?What percentage of kids who drink raw milk have a kidney malady? Is this merely anecdotal and can we extrapolate to all children your son’s experience? Just wondering. I have not reached a conclusion on raw milk yet. Just trying to be careful before making a decision.

    • Mary McGonigle-Martin says

      Mark,
      1. Yes I am certain the raw milk was the cause.
      2. No it wasn’t something else he ate. He had only been drinking the raw milk for 2 weeks. Nothing else in his diet change. He only eats the food I prepare at home.
      3. No he would not have had these health issues if he hadn’t consumed contaminated raw milk.
      4. Yes. 6 children became ill from the milk, but only one other 10 year old girl suffered from HUS, the same as my son. She also went into complete renal failure. Her kidneys never fully recovered. That means someday she will probably need a kidney transplant.
      5. Yes something went awry with the batch—it was contaminated with E.coli 0157H7.
      6. Yes other foods can become contaminated with E.coli 0157:H7. The most common food is hamburger because people don’t cook it to the correct temperature or cross contaminate in the kitchen with other foods. Proper handling and cooking can prevent illness.
      7. I have kept data on the raw milk outbreaks since 2005 involving the pathogen E.coli 0157:H7 116 people have become ill and 27 children (mostly under 10) have developed HUS. That is 23%
      8. There have been 15 raw milk outbreak since 2005 involving the pathogen E.coli 0157:H7. HUS is a very rare disorder. Typically 2%-8% who contract an E.coli infection develop HUS. It appears with raw milk 23% develop it.
      9. In 2012 an outbreak happened in Oregon. A two year old girl developed a severe case of HUS. She had a stroke, died and they brought her back to life. She was left paralyzed, unable to swallow or talk. She also had a portion of her colon removed. She is feed through a feeding tube. A few months ago she needed a kidney transplant. Her mother was the donor.
      10. Here is an article I wrote about my son’s story http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/04/is-the-foundation-of-good-health-found-in-a-bottle-of-raw-milk/#.Uuh07E3Tk5s

      Good luck with your decision. If you want to drink it for yourself, go for it, just don’t give it to your children.

    • Mark S says

      Mary thanks for your reply. Can we conclude then that only raw milk with 0157H7 e. coli is the problem. Now the question becomes does my raw milk source have it or not? That is the question. Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures, on his website, claims that because of his fastidious cleanliness and care, the independent and govt agencies have never found the villianous 0157H7 e. coli in his milk. So can we conclude that drinking his milk is at least safe for the kiddos? Other unregulated and untested diary’s less so? Also can we conclude that you could pasteurize raw milk to reduce the risk or you could just be very careful, sanitary fastidious, verify it and be safe that way? Do you concur?

      • Mary McGonigle-Martin says

        Well, Mark is technically correct. They have never found E.coli 0157:H7 in a sample of his milk, however that don’t mean it wasn’t in the milk. Pathogens are not evenly distributed. Just because you took a sample out of the bulk tank, doesn’t mean a pathogen wasn’t somewhere in the milk. There have been two E.coli 0157:H7 raw milk outbreaks associated with his dairy. One in 2006 and another in 2011. In 2011, they did find the matching fingerprint in cow manure on his farm.
        E.coli 0157:H7 is not the only pathogen that can get in raw milk, but it is the pathogen that is causing the most serious illnesses in young children.

        Testing does not guarantee that the milk is pathogen free. People really need to understand this when they are choosing to consume regulated raw milk. I made the assumption that because the milk was tested it would be safe to drink. Remember, every single batch of raw milk is not tested. Let’s say the milk is tested 4 times a month. The other 26 days, the milk is not tested. That leaves a lot of room for pathogens to go undetected.

        I think the best option for consuming healthy milk would be to buy it raw from a farmer who feeds his cows grass and does not use hormones or antibiotics and then home pasteurize it. This is what people did prior to mandatory pasteurization. I know Mark McAfee is developing raw milk safety standards for farmers who are selling raw milk. I support these efforts; however, I am not convinced yet that you can make raw milk 100% safe. Time will tell.

        All this talk about raw milk being consumed raw for thousands of years. Let’s keep in mind that the first document case of HUS was in 1982. The deadly pathogen E.coli 0157:H7 is new to our food supply and it harbors in the intestines of cows, goats, sheep and deer. It takes as little as 10 to 50 cells to make a person ill. 200,000 can fit on the head of a pin. Children are the most at risk for becoming ill because they have under developed immune systems.

        My personal opinion is that E.coli 0157:H7 is a game changer for raw milk.

  58. says

    What is your opinion on someone without a spleen drinking raw milk? I have had my spleen removed and have had the appropriate vaccinations. I don’t feel I have a poor immune system as I don’t get sick often. I just bought some raw milk but then I started wondering about having no spleen and if it is still fairly safe. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

  59. says

    Dear Geetalee,

    I produce retail raw milk out here in CA. My raw milk is state inpected and sold in 625 stores. We have a very intensive food safety plan and publish our bacteria counts at our website http://www.organicpastures.com and also http://www.rawmilkinstitute.org

    If you boil your raw milk it is no longer raw. You might as well just buy the UHT dead stuff you already buy. Boiling is about the same as pasteurization. Why do you want to buy raw milk? Raw milk has enzymes and proteins that are vitally active and impact very poweful healing properties to the consumer. Namely: asthma benefits, anti allergy benefits and it treats excema very effectively.

    Pasteurized milk has been identified as the most highly allergenic food in America at the FDA website.

    But…all of this said, you really need to know your farmer and understand the conditions that he produces under. Raw milk can make you sick if he does not know what he is doing.

    call me if you have any questions…I can help.
    559-46-9732 mark

    • Geetalee says

      Thank you very much Mark, I wish I could buy the raw milk from the stores at organicpastures. But being in New Jersey, I shall try to find more details about the farmer I am planning to buy the raw milk. Also, I will try not to boil the raw milk and consume it naturally. Thanks once again!

    • Janet says

      I have just found this site, looking for more information about using milk which has not been processed by big companies. Here in New Zealand there is one main company – the largest company in the country – which processes almost 100% of the milk produced in this dairy focused land. Milk here is pasteurized, the goodies – it is separated, protein etc are removed, some is used for protein drinks etc, then it is re-mixed, homogenized, plus the UHT variety has another process as well. Then cream: cream has additives to make it smoother when it is whipped, and then it is sold as a pure product.
      Now I can’t say about what happens in the US industry, but what I do know, is that the pasteurizing process I have used for several years, allows me to consume dairy products without any of the – very severe – allergic reactions I had for much of my life eating/drinking that commercially processed dairy.
      My procedure is to bring the milk to 82C for 15 seconds, remove it and cool it quickly in a water bath – my kitchen sink. Depending on how much milk there is, it still takes a while, but before it is completely cold I start to separate it for butter (to freeze for baking) clotted cream (reheated, cooled, for eating on bread) cheese, which can have some cream in it but I don’t like a lot; by now most of the cream has gone, so the rest is bottled and quickly into the fridge for drinking, and finally, the almost cream-free milk I use to make yoghurt.
      I hope this will help the person who wants to know about how to deal with raw milk, but I totally disagree with the notion that home pasteurizing creates anything like what comes out of the over-produced dairy product that comes out of the factories – especially UHT milk..

      • says

        (I think that is the blog URL)

        Well, since my last comment, I am now SO firmly resolved to use only raw milk for my kefir. I did tons of research on UHT treated milk and have concluded that whether the product comes from conventional cows or “organic” cows, the result is the same- dead white liquid AND devoid of anything in it so the stores gain 4-6 extra weeks of shelf life. Think about that. The milk in the aisles that are not refrigerated but stacked for your convenience and touted as 100% safe undergoes the same UHT process as the Horizons brand in the cooler at Whole Foods. Do you want your kids to drink that? Especially when the choice includes a real food, unprocessed and chock full of nutrients .

        I personally think the dairy industry is nervy pushing this while castigating raw milk and doing what it can to limit raw milk exposure.

        Remember: UHT kills 99.9% of all the bacteria (brags the dairy industry). Can anything such as vitamins or minerals still be alive or active? Dead White Water.

  60. Geetalee says

    I have been researching a lot about consumption of raw milk and was surprised after reading all your blogs. I have been feeding my 6 year old daughter with ultrapasteurized organic milk all these years and now I am keen on switching to the raw milk option and since I live in New Jersey, probably delivered by a local farmer from PA.
    My question is should I give it to my daughter as is or should I boil it before and for how long? Also, how long can it be stored if refrigerated normally?
    Thank you very much for the information and saving us from the long term harmful effects of drinking ultrapasteurized milk.

  61. wendy says

    i just thought of something and maybe Chris can address this: if, as my experience and observation has shown, cultured foods from raw milk culture faster than pasteurized or homogenized milk, then would it not be not only beneficial but also better to eat cultured foods from raw milk, if for no other reason, than to be continually feeding your gut probiotics to fight the salmonella and e coli bugs?

  62. wendy says

    all this about raw milk. wow. anyway, i just started culturing my own kefir and buttermilk and yogurt. i cant really tell the difference. i started out using whole foods 365 organic ultra pasturized milk. then went to a pasturized-only ( not ultra),then costcos heavy cream(rbst free). these took 3 days to “turn”!!! 3 days. so i bit the bullet and bought a half gallon of raw milk at $8 a half gallon(gag). this turns within 24 hrs. my assumption has to be this: the others took so long to turn because there were less live things in the processed milks. hey- i thought the new buzz is “processed is bad, raw is best”. well, cultured raw milk tastes a bit different, but starts bubbling immediatley after i dump in my kefir/yogurt tablespoon. also, i want to add this: i was breast fed as a child for a year and still managed to be allergic to everything under the sun. i have been plagued by sinus and post nasal drip for all my life. now at 60, i am culturing my own probiotics from raw milk and now breathe in stereo!!! both nostrils. no morning hacking up mucus and my nose is not crusted with gunk. YEAH> if raw milk is dangerous, then culturing it with kefir grains has got to kill it. you can actually watch the raw milk bubbling, making those wonderful colonies that our bodies need to OFFSET ALL THOSE ECOLI GUYS. i really think that raw milk, homeopathy, and the host of alternative medical and food choices are real targets to limit health. dont get me wrong– i am not a tree lover. i am a registered libertarian who is conservative in thinking. but i have also experienced the marvels of homeopathy up close and personal–some 25 yrs ago. and no one can dispute the horrors of what the conventional food growers are doing to our food ( i just discovered that apple and pear growers have been spraying crops with anti-biotics). how much more is hidden out there, and how much is distorted? re: the e coli parents above—e coli can live for a long time –E. coli has been shown in a separate study to survive over 28 days at both refrigeration and room temperatures on stainless steel, but the bacteria only survived 90-360 minutes on surfaces of copper or copper alloy. In general, without bacterial conditions or measures, both of these hardy bacteria appear to be able to survive on hard, inanimate surfaces for weeks–you really cant pinpoint the raw milk. it could have been sitting there on your countertop or your grocery cart or a public restroom.
    i say–if the CDC and the FDA get involved, there is a lobby group behind it. go raw milk!!.

  63. Tamra says

    Thank you, thank you for this article. I am sick to death of the CDC and FDA trying to scare us with not quite truthful statistics and research. You’re article really broke it down for those of us wanting to make our own decisions!

  64. says

    Stoney Cold,

    Speaking of BULLETS. Asthma kills about 4000 kids per year in America. Consumption of raw milk improved asthma and perhaps even heals the process of inflammation that causes flare-ups. MAST cell stabilization via raw whey proteins. There are several huge EU studies that validate and show this to be true PARSIFAL, GABRIELA, PASTURE, AMISH studies and several others.

    back prior to the advent of the supermarket, people arround the world relied on mammals for milk and its related products. Where ever there was grass and sunshine and rain….there was a mammal that could be milked. Camels, Sheep, Cows, Horses, Goats….People stopped starving when mammals served man. The bible even speaks of it in the highest regard.

    I do agree that modern pasteurized, homogenized standardized white stuff is allergenic and associated with lactose intolerance and should be avoided. Raw milk is not allergenic and does not cause lactose intolerance in nearly everyone that consumes it. Our immune systems need the bacteria found in raw milk for strength and enzyme generation in the gut.

    The CA raw milk markets are crazy on fire with growth and very happy healthy families. Pasteurized milk is however dying off at 2% per year or faster. Three weeks ago….Crave Brothers PASTEURIZED cheese in Wisconsin killed 2 and sickened god knows how many more. That is the real bullet. The 4000 kids a year that die from asthma is the real bullet.

    Raw milk if consumed nationally would save so many lives it would mean bankrupcty for the medical industry that prays on illness. Raw milk builds immunity and health…that is why pharma brain washed doctors hate it.

    Mark McAfee
    Founder OPDC
    Fresno CA

  65. StoneyColdCreamy says

    James, you need to lay off the weed. Your hypothesis basically seems to imply that free range cows, hippy daireys etc have no bacteria ever coming into contact with milk and that the dark ages of the industrial revolution caused all that evil bacteria. Simple test for you; go take a swab and go to your favorite place that sells still moo-ing milk and swab the cows udder. touch said swab to a pitri dish and send out to lab. You will be surprised what grows in the dish. Consuming unpasteurized milk in today’s day and age is akin to Russian roulette with a 15,000 round revolver. Just because you don’t get the bullet doesn’t mean you wont or for that matter have magic powers. The bottom line is that Cows milk is meant for baby cow. The people that crow in here ad infinitum about how awesome their raw experiences are should be mooing too and have never had to take thier kids to the ER for projectile vomit. I have. I am your statistic; My family got the bullet.

    • james says

      dude, first of all I don’t do weed, and am probably the last person you would call a hippy. Secondly, I’m well aware of the difference between a modern, legitimate dairy practicing the type of milk production that produces consumer grade produce and the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century dairies that within the space of forty years moved from being surrounded by low density human population arable land to high density, high populace situations with little or no drainage and no knowledge of the germ theory (which didn’t become prevalent until the early part of the twentieth century in practice) and therefore little in the way of soap. Try http://www.victorianweb.org/science/health/health10.html or this interesting documentary on youtube – I guess you will find it eye opening – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6gyIRy3bEw. These days, if your children experience projectile vomiting (although it is actually a good experience for the developing immune system to be exposed to non-fatal bacteria) you can report it to your local health authority. In 1898 there were over thirty thousand meat producers in new york and only ten health inspectors (with evidence of bribery being rife). Modern milk pasteurisation removes upto 80% of the bacteria that our bodies have lived with for more than thirty thousand years and I think you would be surprised at the speed that our bodies demonstrate symptoms in line with evolution (as little as three generations). I am neither in favour of raw milk or against it, and merely comment as an interested reader for other interested readers. However, should we continue wholescale with pasteurised milk when in modern hygienically controlled dairies in combination with modern refridgeration techniques there is no need for pasteurisation and I am correct about the evolving stomach and short chain calcium molecules that block ionic channels in the ceacum in intestine that has lead to gluten intolerance and problems with gliadin and ADHD and other cardiovascular issues, then the only people who will profit are the drug companies that sell cures for the symptoms that will continue to need to be patched up. Perhaps in order to check whether this is correct, one might find evidence from dairies matched on hygiene and individual families who have drunk raw milk vs families who have drunk pasteurised milk for several generations. If you can find enough families, then if I am correct then there will be a statistically significant greater than chance level of finding families with increased levels of susceptibility to gluten intolerance and adhd etc. As for free range cows, I live in a globally famous area for dairy milk and forgive me if I’m wrong but are you guys in the US practicing battery cow farming? (lol).

  66. James says

    I have been researching for a book about health and physiological macro evolution (rapid changes to our physiology in some adaptive way). A critical theoretic reading of historical influences that lead to the adoption of pasteurised milk demonstrates that the outbreaks of illness that inspired the move towards pasteurisation stemmed from the growth of cities due to the industrial revolution during the 19th Century. The cities, with their large scale drainage requirements literally existed side by side with dairies that had not moved. This led to outbreaks of illness and the move toward pasteurisation was implicitly supported by the separation of probiotics and the fact that pasteurisation preserves milk. What I have found interesting is that there was until recently a group of respected scientists who believed that we had not evolved for milk and that this was the reason for the illnesses associated with milk. Actually, the prebiotic component of milk is implicated in the ‘cleaning / health’ of the ceacum and intestines and we have begun to demonstrate illnesses in response to the pasteurisation of milk as our stomach begins to evolve the ability to cope with the new environment that it finds itself in. Note that this is a modern application of the term ‘evolve’ and refers to an adaptive cellular process. We have since the times that necessitated the introduction of pasteurisation understood the need for cleanliness (the germ argument has been thoroughly developed since its infancy when pasteur hit the milk) and have also now got unprecedented access to fridges in comparison the ice blocks that were sometimes used for cooling back in the day (ice used as a coolant like this is well known for its ability to acquire/transfer germs during delivery). Modern illnesses like gluten and wheat intolerance along with some hormonal problems some cancers, and also ADHD are, to my mind at the moment, most likely to be traceable to this macro evolutionary process due to the process of pasteurisation.

  67. courtney williams says

    regarding the safety of home dairying for raw milk, is there any data on the risk of contracting lyme disease from raw milk from a goat or cow pastured in an area where lyme disease is prevalent?

  68. Joe Konrad says

    I just want to say that I have been drinking 2 gallons of Raw Cows Milk a week for well over 9 years and not once have I been sick and that’s because the raw milk’s benefits and builds a healthty immune systems like mine and has been since I found that great (White Blood,) (Whey,) enzymes, minerals, vitamins and amino acids it provides my 72 year old body.

  69. says

    I am in disbelief that the “head lines read” Raw Milk cheese makes people sick in Minnesota. This is an opportunistic and unsuported claim. Epidemeologic evidence has not linked anything yet….and this is illegal cheese and not tested and regulated legal raw milk!!

    If you want to see problems keep things in a black market condition. Nothing like exploitation of a set of conditions set up for just for these types of inflamatory news cycles.

    Raw milk for human consuption has nothing to do with ILLEGAL MEXICAN CHEESE….nothing.

    All of our raw milk products are regulated and tested….unaged raw cheeses are illegal, not regulated, not tested, and fail to follow any sort of standards.

    This is an act of oppressive missinformation and corruption at its FOOD INC worst.

    Mark McAfee
    Chairman Raw Milk Institute.ORG
    Founder Organic Pastures Dairy Co. CA

  70. says

    “Cornell university studied this and found that 1100 people had been sickened by raw dairy since 1972, but 422,000 had been sickened by pasteurized cheeses or milk since 1972. Thats a no brainer…”

    does this take into account how many millions MORE people drink pasteurized milk than raw?

    • says

      Unfortunately, all too often raw milk is blamed for sickness by association, without any real proof that it was actually the cause. They are no doubt also including people that got sick from consuming a raw milk cheese that was produced in a very unsanitary fashion, in a bathtub, as I remember hearing the story..

  71. says

    First, I admit that I did not read the entire article or all the comments. I also want to state for the record that I’m a fan of yours, Chris, and I have referenced your work in some of my posts. That said, as much as I WANT to support raw milk, and as much as I believe it is a superior food to pasteurized milk and to most foods in the grocery store, I no longer drink it or buy it for my family, and that is because my entire family was sickened by raw milk just a little over one year ago. We drank raw milk from trusted farmers who I still believe to be honest, reputable farmers. It was a fluke. But I just can’t drink it anymore, or give it to my children in good conscience. While I realize that all foods have the potential to make us sick, I have never been sick from any other food. We drank raw milk for only about 2 years, and got very sick. I was almost hospitalized. others who were sickend from the same farm were hospitalized and still suffer the ill effects. I completely support the legalization of raw milk and understand why people drink it. But I also know from first hand experience that it is possible to get very sick from it, even when purchasing from a trusted source. And I am so very conflicted on the issue. I felt the need to state my piece. Thanks for your research and hard work on this article.

    • Pamala says

      I challenge this and ask you to name the farm and when you all became sick. It will be in the public record. Everyone wants verification these days and so do I when someone makes claims like this.

    • says

      Jo-Lynne, I can understand your misgivings about raw milk, but I suspect that the reason you got very sick was partly because the medical profession refuses to acknowledge the benefits of very large frequent doses of vitamin C, which the body uses to knock out such an infection. The story of how they stonewall this treatment is appalling! There’s a brief summary of the importance of vitamin C in this review of a book about it http://www.doctoryourself.com/ascorbate.html
      I also have several other links about vitamin C on my website
      http://home.roadrunner.com/~krisjohnson/Recipes/Odds&Ends.htm#Vitamin%20C
      If you read “Curing the Incurable” or “Vitamin C, the Real Story” you’ll see what I mean. I take 500-1000 mg of C 3 or 4 times a day to avoid getting sick.

  72. says

    I am not so sure how any one can claim that raw milk has caused more illness than pasteurized since 1972. Cornell university studied this and found that 1100 people had been sickened by raw dairy since 1972, but 422,000 had been sickened by pasteurized cheeses or milk since 1972. Thats a no brainer…

    Also, 70 people had died from pasteurized dairy products and NONE from US raw milk!!!
    Thats also a no brainer.

    A new EU food risk assessment classification study was just published in the last few weeks. As soon as I have the link, I will post it.

    The EU CODEX risk assessment says this ” raw milk for human consumption is among the lowest risk foods and is not associated with misscarrage in pregnancy”. Yes they said that….they found that raw milk is not associated with LISTERIA…yet pasteurized milk adn cheeses are.

    The FDA lies are being exposed one by one. As far as Mary Martin is concerned…..ask her if her child ever had ecoli found in his fecal sample or his body.

    The answer is NO HE DID NOT. There was epidemeologic questions, but causation was never shown. That is why the State of CA wrote a big fat check to OPDC to avoid liability from a non confirmed recall in 2006. None of the products or even the cows manure was found to have a matching ecoli pathogen!!

    Mary…leave this dog to rest and sleep…enough is enough. The fact that CDFA never published a Press release when 1600 people were sickened from Campylobacter at a CDFA pasteurized creamery literally 2 months earlier in 2006 and restarted the creamery in 3 hours tells me everything. They hate raw milk and being fair or unbiased does not matter.

    The fact that 13 kids in New Orleans ate a spinach smoothie in September 2006 and got Ecoli from a different strain of CA spinach but the CDC does not associate these illnesses with the CA spinach outbreak tells me that their where multiple spinach pathogens and not one.

    I have never lied and neither has Sally Fallon.

    • Mary McGonigle-Martin says

      Mark,
      Do you have the documentation on the phantom 13 children you refer to? If you are claiming that 13 children became ill as part of an outbreak, there were be documentation of this? Where is it?
      As for finding E.coli 0157:H7 in Chris’ stool sample, you really need to educate yourself about this subject. This is a common occurrence. Children and adults develop HUS without testing positive for an E.coli infection. http://www.cdph.ca.gov/data/statistics/Documents/stec-episummary.pdf
      From the years 201-2008 there were 336 cases of HUS in California. That averages 42 illnesses a year. Of these only 179 were accompanied by a laboratory-confirmed E. coli 0157:H7 infection. That is 53%. The others could not be confirmed. I am not a scientist and don’t know what is involved in growing out the cultures, but obviously it is not easy to grow.

  73. Ariella says

    I’m living in Mexico and would really love to start using raw milk, however, I’m not sure that it’s safe…. especially after all the talk of Mexican bathtub cheese. I found a supplier in a market but they actually told me that I should boil it. Are there any suggestions/guidelines that I could use to help ascertain whether the dairy farm I’m interested in is producing safe milk?

  74. says

    The CDC conveniently also omits the 197,000 people sickened by pasteurized milk and salmonella in 1993 in one incident.

    The CDC unfortunately is not a scientific organization. It is an organization that does favors for the FDA to further an agenda. I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to them several years ago demanding data on the two deaths that they attributed to raw milk since 1972. The response was this: the deaths were associated with imported illegal Mexican Style bathtub cheese. They agreed that there had been no deaths from any American fluid raw milk since the start of their data collection database in 1972!!

    That is not American Raw Milk! This was illegal Mexican Cheese. Cheese made from God Knows What under conditions that are highly questionable….this is quite a deliberate fraud on behalf of the CDC data collection process.

  75. says

    Chris,

    Congrats on a great article. It could be written in so many ways and you took the high road. I would also add that the CDC carefully selected their time periods for data selection. In 1985 at least 300 people were seriouly sickened and 49 died from pasteurized cheese in one outbreak. The Jalisco Cheese incident. The CDC does not even show this in their data base. The CDC also does not show the 1600 inmates that were sickened by Campylobacter from a CA prison creamery that was inspected by the CDFA. The same agency that inspects OPDC. In fact…the CDFA did not even release a Press Release on the incident.

    If you really want to see some amazing data….see http://www.rawmilkinstitute.org the rw dairy producers that are LISTED at this website adhere to the COMMON STANDARDS and so far none of them have had any illnesses or recalls or outbreaks associated with them. RAWMI has published standards, requires routine testing and a written audited food safety plan. This is the way forward.

    Chris….please consider this, official records show that at least 8 children have died from allergic reactions to properly pasteurized milk since 1998. I would argue that pasteurized milk is defective and does not contain the biologic and metobolic elements needed for digestion. Children by definition do not have the developed digestive tract to be able to digest pasteurized milk. Raw milk is a WHOLE complete food that is the product of 200 million years of mammalian evolution and contains all of the proteins and enzymes and good bacteria needed for the childs immature and developing GUT.

    This is not my idea….this is a quote from Dr. Bruce German PhD at UC Davis Milk Genomics Consortium. He is the most published PhD in the world on the subject of mammals raw milk.

    Raw milk producers and raw milk consumers are literally at war with the FDA and their Food Inc Processors bed partners. This war has a serious body count and the bodies are stacked at the feet of the FDA and their deep corruption.

    Raw milk sales rage upward as pasteurized sales die off at 1-2 % per year and conventional dairies go bankrupt. This says it all. Consumers are dollar voting the truth.

  76. Kim says

    Chris,
    Thank you kindly for summing up these statistics. After a day of research on the subject, I finally have your article to put things into perspective.

  77. Pamala Minerd says

    We are a raw dairy family. I have been doing some study because I am being challenged by some about our consumption of raw dairy. After reading this article I went on line to fine a report I had read in the past. I haven’t found it yet but did find this from the FDA quoting the CDC. Now I would like to know who is telling the truth?

    FROM THE FDA WEBSITE-

    2. Have any illnesses or deaths been caused by consuming raw milk products?

    Based on CDC data, literature, and state and local reports, FDA compiled a list of outbreaks that occurred in the U.S. from 1987 to September 2010. During this period, there were at least 133 outbreaks due to the consumption of raw milk and raw milk products. These outbreaks caused 2,659 cases of illnesses, 269 hospitalizations, 3 deaths, 6 stillbirths and 2 miscarriages. Because not all cases of foodborne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with raw milk likely is greater.

  78. says

    Without a doubt, I have never learned or enjoyed more from a thread. I am a rapidly loyal fit and strong 52 year defender of the benefits of raw milk. My husband partakes and supports me in all this. Neither of us have had a cold, sickness or illness in over a decade.

    As for my love life. . .well, God bless his virile 64 yo arse!

  79. mark mcfee says

    Stoney Cold…

    How is your “love life” with your dear wife???
    Love and support her. Her instincts are based on what she thinks is right and pro-biotic for your kids. Your anger towards her does not help at all.

    What you have described is not so helpful. Filth is not helpful either. I do not know of many people that are into filth and also raw milk. Fermented raw milk saved humans ( many human cultures would have died off if not for mammals and grass all driven by the sunshine ) on earth some tens of thousands of years ago. Human genetics prove it. We share much of our human biome with that of cows. This is from the UC Davis PhD’s that study raw mammals milk at the Milk Genomics research lab.

    The rash that your wife is experiencing is a stress reaction from not getting any love or support from you!! Every one that I know that drinks raw milk and eats whole unprocessed foods have a remarkably strong immune system. After all…80% or more of our immune system strength comes from the biodiversity of bacteria that colonize or live in our gut. No good bacteria..not good immune system. That is very old science and not an argument for or against filth.

    Suggest some respect and love for your wife and perhaps….do some reading about the immune system of your body.

    Pasteurized milk is in crisis….it is the MOST allergenic food in America. Google it yourself. Raw milk is thriving and healing guts all over America.

    • StoneyColdCreamy says

      Oh believe me Mark, My love life is just fine; after all I do have two daughters. Its their LIVES I am more concerned with at present than the esoteric value of someone’s paperback jacket opinion on how supportive I am with my wife which was not solicited from you I assure you. I am here in an attempt to present the other viewpoint to party line raw milk hacks. Nothing more.
      Filth is quite common in late 30 something stay at home mom’s kitchens by the way. I wonder how much experience you have on this as it would seem filth is something you probably have had the monetary wealth to have eliminated for you, most likely from someone paid to do it for you.
      But for most 98%s filth is simply the result of not having enough time or energy to clean everything, change diapers, manage the 18 half gallon mason jars in various states of dairy decay, wash the cloth diapers that you have also been drawn to, and all of the other homeopathic experiments. Something just has to give so its usually cleaning every surface etc is what is sacrificed. Clean to me means micro biologically clean whereby you would not get very good results by swabbing a surface then touching agar after 4 days; because hey, that is what’s going down with the milk, to cream to whey etc. anything that was encountered gets a chance to set up shop. I do not need any proof of that; I have grown my own cultures in Agar personally.

      I share much of my genetics with pigs also, and I love bacon by the way so feel free to call me a pig to Mark, it would be expected of you at this point from me. The rash my wife has is most likely an allergy to the various products and scientifically backwards mysticism being peddled online by profit hungry, Deepak Chopra, Birkenstock wearing Chinese Medicine pushers. If I had a dime for every silly ointment, shake, herb, crystal, oil or supplement that she takes I would possibly be able to afford the copay’s to all of the Dr.s office visits she makes with the kids, visits that you and your ilk claim should never be due to the milk ingestion.

      – I have news for those of you that believe that crushed Tiger Bones cures low Testosterone also by the way: They did a study and the results of that paper are: -you really need to stop killing tigers.

      I have not for one moment attacked the presence of cultures in guts, enzymes or anything else. I am simply no fan of Bacteria. And Bacteria are much more present than car crashes. Whether or not they cause illness and impact you based on your assumptions that your immune system has somehow become calloused to the bacteria is your own business.

      • Charlene says

        Ironic this discussion is occurring simultaneous to Chris’ latest post on the benefit of fecal transplant – and need by some to regain health by recolonizing the gut with feces from another person (this is done either orally, through the rectum, or via nasal tube).

        http://chriskresser.com/poop-the-cure-of-the-future

        Perhaps it would be useful for you, Stone Cold, to learn about the essential role bacteria and other microbes play in bringing about vibrant health for human beings. We are 10% human and 90% microbes.

        • StoneyColdCreamy says

          **Update** and Happy Valentines Day Mark; did you get YOUR wife anything?

          My family physician had a “talk” with my wife days after my last post and the raw milk consumption has been ceased.
          Also the rashes cleared up and so has the strange kefir obsessive behavior with all I had mentioned; we now have a clean fridge that we can store food in again; organic food; food which i rinse and cook if need be.
          I asked Wifers by the way what was said to change her mind by the doc.
          She said that he said “well, yes people have consumed it for years, but do you really want to risk this with a 2 year old and 4 year old when there are no proven benefits?” he then advised against it – for the children. For the record, our Dr. is no fan of ANY kind of milk consumption as well as coffee but I break the coffee rule every morning; because the BENEFIT of caffeine is scientifically proven. Carry on all and happy V day.

  80. StoneyColdCreamy says

    I was referred to this website by my rabidly loyal to defending the completely Snake Oil “benefits” of drinking raw milk wife. I will add some additional comments to the mix that I don’t think have been covered. It is my experience that most raw milkers don’t stop with just the milk. They all become poor man’s yogurt, sour cream, whey, butter and cream makers, right out of their less than sterile and often extremely messy kitchens, often fermenting things away here and there and then feeding them to their 2 and 4 year old daughters as if they are doing them some kind of favor. When the only possible clinically (at this time unproven) benefit of raw milk is not farting as much when lactic intolerant I can honestly say it’s the benefits that should be under the microscope here. I could claim eating my own feces never hurt me when I was a baby and made me able to kill a taco bell volcano Nacho later in life without any issues magically and that those feces are safer than a car crash… But come on people.. why risk anything for a benefit that cannot be any more proved than prayer? I stand before you all today with a 37 year old wife covered from head to toe in a rash with a 2 year old and 4 year old that both have had fevers over 103 and projectile vomited all over us and our house. My wife refusing to go see the Dr. because she fears addressing the concern that its the milk and not wanting to lend herself to the statistics that Chris holds so dear. could it be that the raw milk drinkers are so driven by their compulsory need to consume raw milk claiming it gives them magic abilities actually prevents them from reporting illness? So far the only born again believers in Pasteurization I am reading stories on got that way from losing a child. What a terrible game to play just to believe in homeopathic theory and conjecture. So I ask you Chris et al, is it OK to feed your children all of these things in the way I just described?

    • says

      Stoney:

      Thank you for posting your story and perspective. In CA one of the families in an outbreak at ODPC had made kefir and two of their young sons were greatly affected by e.coli. Kefir is raw milk sitting on a counter fermenting and it needs to be warm…perfect for e.coli 0157-H7 to proliferate.

      I was your wife just a bit over a year or so ago. That is why Mark McAfee and I are contentious, I went to a raw milk rally for heavens sake! My husband was just as frustrated as you are that I gave it to our young children. I hope that your wife and children are okay. I hope you can convince her to get to a doctor. The children should definitely be seen ASAP. Projectile vomit is never a good thing!!!

      Best,
      Kristen

      • StoneyColdCreamy says

        Thanks Kristen,
        the symptoms were that of possible bacterial food poisoning which happened after visiting another Raw milk friend of my wife’s house whom also “home brews” all of the other dairy products you mentioned. The children’s bottles co mingled and they drank another cows milk. They also attended a VERY heavily populated restaurant this past weekend. The issues here are two fold. Its either the milk or products, or the lack of immunity from disease encountered by the other children or restaurant.
        Didactic logic thereby proves the following:
        The milk is dangerous or
        The milk provides no immunity enhancements nor magical properties.
        Take your pick Mark and explain. And before you ask my wife has been feeding hectoliters of this stuff to my kids. Shouldn’t they basically be bullet proof now if what you believe is true? And there it is… its just NOT factual. And by the way all, I assure you I am telling the truth. come to my house you can help me clean up the puke.

    • Mary McGonigle-Martin says

      StoneyColdCreamy,

      Typically with a foodborne illness you will have diarrhea. Do the kids also have diarrhea with the vomiting? If your kids have been ill like this for a few days, I would get your kids to the doctor. You don’t have to mention that you give them raw milk.

      The description of your wife having a rash from head to toe sounds like the measles.

  81. mark mcfee says

    I have asked my PhD friends at the Milk Genome Consortium research lab ( Dr. Bruce German PhD and Dr. Lemay PhD ) to give me their read on A2. After all, UC Davis claims to now have the patent privileges for testing A2 traits. For many years the ability to test was patented and even if you wanted to test…it was not possible. I have not ever been able to connect with the UC Davis division that does this testing.

    If any one should know about A2…it should be the Milk Genomics people at UC Davis. We will see what they think.

    • SC says

      Mark,

      I wouldn’t bother checking with UC Davis, as they are licensed by A2 Corp to perform the tests. There are other testing methods available to test for A2 without using their “patented” methods.

      SC

  82. mark mcfee says

    By the way…..

    Dr. Kresser,

    I do not understand the repeated statement made under your name on this comment thread. It appears to be a repeat comment. Is this a glitch?

    Loved your presentation at WAP….packed full of great information.

    Mark

  83. mark mcfee says

    SC,

    I agree….A2 nothing wrong with it at all as long as the cows are healthy, the pastures are green, the management is organic and the processing is 100% raw.

  84. mark mcfee says

    Dear SC,

    Four fold healing is written by Dr. Tom Cowan. Several years ago, Tom came to me at a conference and said this: ” If I had known now that A2 research is what it is….I would never have written the foreward to the book The devil in the Milk”.

    Tom was even duped.

    If you have never seen pictures of pasteurized milk please see the slide show of these pictures at http://www.rawmilkinstitute.org they will change your perspective 100%. Pastuerized milk looks like fine sand paper while raw milk looks like human blood or a well structured coral reef. The destruction is total and complete with high heat. The proteins are changed and the enzymes are gone. The cassein is literally toast.

    The differences between A2 and A1 on one little amino acid is irrelevant. Although my comment is high level and not supported by studies, the A2 corp claims are not supported by any studies at all.

    Why is it that our protein sensitive autistic consumers have no problem drinking OPDC raw milk and have severe reactions to A2 pasteurized….think about this. It is a huge scam.

    There was no A2 genetic cleft 5000 years ago. Where is any evidence of this….there is nada…nothing to support this. Nothing. There was a change in processing and feeding 100 years ago.

  85. Sam says

    Raw milk will be unsustainable for a large population.

    How will it be transported without contamination?
    How will it be transported quickly enough to prevent widespread bacterial growth?
    Will you be happy using sterilising agents (alcohol or Peroxides) on all parts of the supply chain?

    There is no physical way you could produce raw milk on a mass scale with ZERO contamination in an economical and environmentally sound way.
    It is far better for the environment for one dairy to process milk, than many small dairys. Just as its better for 30 people to travel on the bus, than all drive individual cars.

    Sure raw milk might not be dangerous for YOU. But it would be if it was distributed on the same scale as pasteurised milk.

    • SC says

      That is exactly the point. Distribution should be local by multiple farmers/dairies not super commercial dairies. Not ONLY is Raw milk not dangerous it is better for the consumer. Hey, let the chips fall as they may but selling raw milk being illegal is plain wrong.

  86. mark mcfee says

    My take on the A2 concept is that two dead New Zealand pro A2 milk guys duped the world. The Devil is in the processing of the milk and the feeding of the cows and not the genetics. There is no support for their concepts. There are still allergies to pasteurized A2 milk and there is still lactose intolerance with pasteurized A2 milk.

    I know all about the A2 corp. They tried to get me to sell all of the OPDC to them when they were in North America in 2003….they failed. I wanted to sell OPDC raw milk and not pasteurized.

    See the OPDC position at our archived letters at http://www.organicpastures.com Mike Schmidt and others that lead the raw milk movement agree with me. Pasteurization changes all of the proteins and all of the enzymes not just one of them.

    Feed the cows on pastures and stop processing it…that is the milk that humans have been drinking for 30,000 years. genetics are not the issue. The jury is still completely out on this. Many more studies need to be done to even consider this A2 logic.

    • SC says

      A2 corp and A2/A1 issues are two separate issues. Just as is Pasteurized vs RAW. If you drink RAW milk that is A1, I think you owe it to yourself to look at the research the data is out there. Since you sell A1 milk and you just offered your opinion not any fact I will keep an open mind and in the meantime consume A2 Milk whenever that is an option. Here is a good read on the issue. http://fourfoldhealing.com/2009/03/10/march-2009-newsletter/

  87. mark mcfee says

    Met with PhD researchers at UC Davis. They run the Milk Genomics Research Lab. They say that raw milk will make a strong emergence in the coming years with the advent of better testing technologies and better production conditions. They also said this….Pasteurization is a 18th solution to a 18th century problem.

    Consumer Dollar voting is taking care of pasteurized milk as we speak. The markets for liquid pasteurized milk fall at about 1% per year….regardless of the amounts of money spent to prop them up. Raw milk grows with out marketing or promotion…why? It is delicious and it is healing a crisis of the GUT and Allergies in America. Lies have a way of becoming known and the truth always gets discovered…it is a matter of time and the internet has rapidly accelerated this discovery.

    • says

      “It is a delicious and it is healing a crisis of the GUT. . . ”

      It most definitely is. Here I am almost 3 months later from our previous conversation and a steady, daily diet of raw milk kefir, along with raw cream and other healthy lifestyle choices and I am feeling amazing!! Lean, strong and healthy. We are fortunate to have advocates such as yourself Mark, paving the way. I have become a big fan of yours–I love your rebel style and I have become very involved in my local raw milk movement and am spreading the word in both my business and the community.

    • SC says

      Mark,

      What are your thoughts on A1 cows vs A2. Is your dairy A1, A2 or a combination?

      What I have read on Mercola http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/07/09/the-devil-in-the-milk.aspx is that One of the major proteins in cow’s milk is casein, the predominant variety of which is called beta-casein. In older breeds of cows, such as Jersey, Asian and African cows (called A2 cows), the beta-casein contains an amino acid called proline.

      In newer breeds of cows like Holstein (A1 cows), however, the proline has mutated into an amino acid called histidine.

      This is important because beta-casein also contains an amino acid called BCM-7, which is a powerful opiate linked to negative health effects. Well, the proline that exists in A2 cows has a strong bond to BCM-7, which helps keep it out of the cows’ milk. The histidine in the newer A1 cows, however, has a weak hold on BCM-7, which allows it to get into the milk, and also into the people who drink the milk.

      By drinking milk from A1 cows, which are the predominant cows used for dairy products in the United States, you’re exposed to BCM-7, which has been linked to neurological impairment, including autistic and schizophrenic changes,type 1 diabetes, an impaired immune response, autoimmune disease, and heart disease

      Thanks,
      SC

      • says

        These points about A1 & A2 are important, but I was a little puzzled by now the strong bond of proline keeps the BCM7 from getting into the milk. So with some investigating came up with clarification:
        BCM7 is an incompletely digested protein fragment, which results from the partial digestion of A1 milk (with histadine at position 67). With a healthy GI tract and healthy gut flora, these protein fragments are further broken down in the gut and don’t cause a problem. Hence a truly healthy person can probably tolerate A1 milk. If one has a leaky gut and/or abnormal gut flora, BCM7 may be formed from incomplete digestion and can enter the blood stream and cause havoc. If strong bond proline is at position 67 it prevents casein digestion from producing BCM7 even if digestion is impaired. Raw milk is very beneficial for healing the gut and encouraging healthy gut flora. Dr. McBride makes this point toward the end of this article on the GAPS Diet http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/gaps

        • SC says

          So the point seems to be that if one has leaky gut and/or abnormal gut flora then stick with A2 Raw milk only. If you have a healthy GI tract and healthy gut flora then A2 is preferred but A1 is still ok.

  88. says

    Paula,

    The total story is still to be told on raw milk and autoimmune disorders. However, the science is pointing towards this: When the body is missing its gut biodiversity ( we are too clean ), the body starts to attack itself. This is the socalled autoimmune disease response.

    Suffice it to say that when your gut is well…you will be well. Raw milk contains the rare sources of vital missing biodiverse bacteria that is missing in the highly processed American diet. Add to this the mixed blessing of Antibiotic abuse of modern medicine and industry abuse and the gut does not have a chance.

    My experiece in CA with 13 years producing raw milk and taking calls from thousands of consumers every year says this….raw milk rocks!! It stabilizes MAST cells ( reduces allergies and asthma ), it repairs the gut flora, it all but heals IBS quickly, helps excema dramatically in most people and kids, eliminates recurrent ear infections, reduced CRP values and inflamation and so much more.

    The CDC and FDA are so backup against the wall on this that they just completely lie to the public. Their very own Complimentary and Alternative Medicine websites agree 100% with my statements.

    Big pharma is laying in bed with the government agencies that regulate and protect their interests. FOOD INC is alive and struggling to protect its drug trade.

    Pasteurized milk is listed as the MOST allergenic food in America at the FDA website.

    There is a reason why raw milk sales in CA and nationally are skyrocketing and fluid pasteurized milk consumption is tanking.

    mark

    • says

      Thank you Mark for the validation. I love the way you spell out the truth. And cheers, I just finished my workout and was enjoying the best post workout “protein shake” I know of when I read this–16 oz of raw milk!

  89. says

    Mark,

    “Builds immunity”, so raw milk would be beneficial for someone with an autoimmune disease? Conventional wisdom (which is usually wrong) says to avoid dairy but then again they are referring to pasteurized. I am asking there is a big difference between the 2; raw milk being a living whole food and pasteurized being a dead food and possibly detrimental to ones health.

    Thanks, Paula

  90. says

    I must apologize for a math error I made in my last post. I went back and looked at the Cornell data one more time and my memory had not served me well. There had been only 1,100 illnesses associated with raw milk since 1973…not 11,000.

    The correct math is more like this:

    422,000 illnesses from pasteurized milk over 37 years for the USA ( 330 million consumers )….or about .0012% incidence of illness.

    1,100 illnesses from raw milk over 37 years for the USA (9.9 million drinkers CDC data ) = .00011% incidence of illness.

    That makes the incidence of illness for raw milk drinkers about 1/10 as much as pasteurized milk drinkers. I will take these odds anyday…especially when raw milk builds immunity and cures, IBS, Asthma and crohns.

  91. says

    Hi all,

    In doing raw milk research I came across a Cornell University study of CDC illnesses regarding the years between 1972 and 2007. The data was shocking.

    422,000 illnesses from pasteurized milk with 22 deaths. The CDC also failed to count 50 deaths from the pasteurized cheese listeria outbreak in 1985 at Jalisco Cheese Co in CA. So the real number was about 77 deaths from pasteurized dairy products.

    11,000 illnesses were listed for raw milk and raw dairy products for the same time period…..and ZERO deaths.

    It we assume that 3% of US citizens drink raw milk ( CDC data ). Assuming 330 million people in the USA, then the numbers are like this.

    The rate of illness from pasteurized milk over the period is = .0012%

    The rate of illness from raw milk over the period is = .0011%

    They are practically identical.

    The rate of death from pasteurized milk or dairy products is 77 souls….and none from raw milk!!!

    I rest my case.

    The only people hurt by raw milk is the Big Indistrial Monopolies that can not make any money off of raw milk. Raw milk must come from real farmers that care and work hard. Raw milk can not be faked or outsourced. It is true food and it is the greatest immune food on earth. You never mess with several million years of natural evolution and biologic selection. Raw milk is the perfect food to protect and nurture life. Man kind and its CAFO FOOD INC selfishness…not only kills milk and its living goodness but farmers that serve processors.

  92. says

    Mark or Chris,

    I am a huge fan of raw milk, fortunate to have a local source and have drank it for 4 years with beneficial effects. Question: those with autoimmune challenges have been told to avoid dairy because the proteins resemble gliadin. Would that be true with pasteurized milk only or also raw milk? I would think raw would be safe and pastuerized not because the heat denatures the milk protein? Any insight would most be most appreciated. Thank you.

  93. says

    Chris, I am reading this article. It is great. I was raised on raw cows’ milk. Have milked many a cow in my day. I drank maybe a gallon a day by myself.

    Now I raise Nigerian Dwarf and Mini Nubian goats for raw milk.

    Could you email me privately? I have a couple of questions.

    thanks,
    Peggy

  94. says

    Aubrey,

    When you discuss milk…try reaching back more than 120 years and look at the tens of thousands of years prior to the last 120 years.

    People that had access to raw milk ( and all the wonderful products made from it ) from all sorts of mammals had a decided advantage over those that did not. It created a protein and fat rich super food from grass, water and sunshine. People do not eat grass very well, we do not have four stomachs like cows. Where ever there was sun and grass, there was food if you had a milk giving mammal. Milk was a complete food and people stopped starving.

    Super markets give anti-milk people all sorts of excuses and easy alternatives. Take away the super markets and people will pray for a goat or a cow in the back yard with some grass.

    We forget history so quickly as humans on this planet.

  95. says

    For everyone that is interested. Pastuerized milk is listed as THE MOST ALLERGENIC FOOD IN AMERICA at the FDA website…to find this data, GOOGLE “most allergenic food in America” and it will pop up very quickly.

    8 children have died since 1998 after consumption of pasteurized milk. This was perfectly pasteurized milk with no living bacteria left in it….the deaths occured because the Milk was dead…this a food that kills when it done right!!!

    These are deaths that occured from consuming properly pasteurized milk…ie… “super-allergenic-food” and the paramedics could not get to the child fast enough to intubate, do CPR and push epinephrine. These are dead kids!!! Death by pastuerized CAFO milk!!!

    Raw milk is known the world over as a “super non allergenic food” that stabilizes MAST cells and stops allergic reactions and reverses Asthma 9 among lots of other great things ). The EU raw milk studies are clear as crystal. PARSIFAL and GABRIELA are both peer reviewed and published. 23,000 kids that drank raw milk in EU studied for six years showed the dramatic decrease in Asthma, excema and allergies.

    Breast milk is Raw Milk….breast milk is not sterile. Kids thrive on breast milk!! Bacteria are critical to life and immune system function. That is why all of the baby formula producers are rushing to add bacteria into baby formula.

    When you pick on OPDC you are picking on an “educational-warrior”. We will teach and teach and teach…The truth is clear and it is just a matter of time before the big lie of dirty dead foods is uncovered completely for all to see.

  96. says

    Mary,

    One thing I have come to respect is mother lions and the love they have for their RAWMILK. Instead of attacking OPDC and me why don’t you attack a mother lion that loves raw milk. That would be a real fight….

    Prison or no prison,…..CDFA did not bother to write a press release. They kept it all very quiet. That is pure bias. It was their embarrassment. Instead they wrote a very nasty press release filled with assumptions all about RAWMILK and OPDC. When CDFA had discovered their screw up and realized they could find no smoking gun at OPDC they paid us for the recall and signed a release and agreement to keep CDFA from being sued for a false unfounded recall. ( for anyone that wants to see the cancelled CDFA check and the release settlement agreement between CDFA and OPDC I would be glad to share it ). Lets all remember that the 2006 Spinach recall killed 3 and hospitalized 200. The CDFA recall of OPDC products happened in the middle of the Spinach recall. The DNA fingerprints associated with any sick kids and the OPDC recall could never be found at OPDC or in any of our products or cows. CDFA could prove no connection between OPDC and any sick kids. Nothing….it was all pure assumptions. Assumption that can not be used in a court of law. In a court of law…. “causation” can only be proven with facts.

    You call it spin…I call it telling the rest of the story.

    Ok lets get down into the dirt. If you want to talk about the whole truth. ‘

    Why don’t you tell the world about your son. Did he ever have Ecoli 0157H7 ever detected in his body???

    The answer is no. You also admitted to investigators that your son consumed lettuce!!! It is in the court papers.

    There is no connection between OPDC raw milk ( which never tested positive with ecoli ) and Chris Martin.

    Mary…lets all face it. What happened to your son is horrible. I never want that to ever happen to any child anywhere.

    But….you have taken this illness ( which he has completely recovered from ) and made it a sick mission for your life. You deny any benefits to raw milk. You dig up 6 year old history….you can never let go.

    Most of all….you give no credit to OPDC or raw milk for all the good things it does. Like….saving childrens lives that would have died from Asthma. 4000 children die from Asthma every year…yet Raw Milk Cures Asthma.

    Where is the balance in your heart. You got a ton of money from our insurance company to settle this matter, because of Marlers scare tactics ( like a false video tape that he created and posted on the internet that he nearly got sued over ). Yet you persist in attacking OPDC and me. Why can’t you leave this alone and go on with life.

    I thought we bought peace with you.

    I am also a father lion for raw milk surrounded by tens of thousands of mother lions that love their raw milk and the health is has brought their children.

    Mary….I prefer love and peace, but I will fight to protect peace and love. Can we just let this matter settle?

    Can we just love our children and nourish their safety and health. I am very very glad that Chris is well. Perhaps you should be glad as well and stop the persistent super negative attacks.

    • Mary McGonigle-Martin says

      Mark, once again you have your facts wrong. I think you need to check with your insurance company about the payout. Is it possible you have no clue? I will email you the correct facts.

  97. says

    What a great discussion. The data is accurate and the tone is fair.

    As fall all the debate about recalls and illnesses, I find in fascinating that in 2006 1600 people were sickened and seven were hopsitalized from campylobacter after drinking PASTEURIZED milk from a CDFA inspected creamery…The CDFA published no Press Release and there was no creamery shut down. The creamery resumed operations in three hours.

    Suffice it to say that recalls and illness pronouncements are a huge political tool. A tool used in an attempt to destroy raw milk.

    When people say that OPDC sickened six in 2011…that is not accurate. Five were listed in the PULSENET data base….but only two were hospitalized. Those two did not drink raw milk….they drank raw milk Kefir that their mom made at home with store bought kefir cultures.

    So do not believe the stories or the news. The agenda against raw milk is huge. Raw Milk is dangerous to one group of people…the processors and their profits. To the consumer it is a GODSEND. It heals asthma and kids stop dying from asthma and GUT related disorders. Last year 4000 kids died from asthma…yet asthma is cured by RAWMILK. See the huge studies in EU ( PARSIFAL and GABRIELA ).

    The most allergenic food in America is PASTEURIZED MILK!!! It has killed 8 kids since 1998. Not from bad bugs, but from dairy allergies.

    Market dollar voting tells the truth of it all. OPDC is thriving when conventional dairies are dying. 28 dairies in Fresno CO are in bankruptcy right now. OPDC grew 29% this last year.

    We are very very serious about pathogens and even have our own lab to test and do 12 each day. We are leading America to a better place..A place where immune systems work and kids thrive.

    Processors and their buddies at the FDA suck and that is the truth. Their plan to sterilize our food so it is easier to distribute and lasts longer on a shelf…sucks.

    At OPDC we produce real living food for people and the HUMAN GUT….not the shelf.

    Mark McAfee
    Founder OPDC

    • Mary McGonigle-Martin says

      Mark, funny how you left out the fact that the 2006 pasteurized outbreak you refer to happened at a prison. There was a malfunction with the pasteurization equipment and of course many prisoners became ill. This was not a public health threat to the general public. You are so the master of spin.

      As for talking about the 2011 outbreak and the kefir—spin again. Yes the mother made kefir with the RAW MILK SHE BOUGHT FROM YOUR DAIRY. If it hadn’t been contaminated with E.coli 0157:H7 (which they found the matching fingerprint on your farm) the kids would have never become ill. Stop with all the spin and fess up to the fact your milk made kids ill. Have you learned nothing from the 2006 outbreak? You don’t want to piss off the mother lion.

      • Charlene says

        Gosh , Mary, pasteurization machines can break down any time , at any dairy, not just at ones that sell to prisons. Anyway, how is it germane that it was prisoners who were stricken? Are you implying that since they were in jail they deserve to be sick so the public shouldn’t be concerned about their health? Pasteurizers are not fail proof – which is particularly dangerous if you are drinking milk from sick CAFO cows – and therefore CAN be a danger to the non-imprisoned general public.

  98. Bernice A Drake says

    Hi Chris,

    I apologize if the answer to this question is readily apparent, but somehow I’ve been unable to find it. Where do I locate the two follow-up articles which you mentioned you were going to write? I would really like to read them and share them on Facebook with my family and friends.

    ~Bernice

  99. Karin says

    I grew up in a farming community in Germany. It was my job to go get milk from the neighbor’s farm every night when I was a kid. The milk was not pasteurized. Most nights nearly 1/2 the milk would be gone before I got home, so I’d have to go back and get more. I used to love drinking that milk. In the late 70’s we moved to Canada. No more milk straight from the cow. The first time I had milk from the store I spit it out, because it tasted strange, not like the milk I was used to. I haven’t had a glass of milk since.

    In all the years that we were drinking raw milk none of our family members nor any of the neighbors who got their milk from the farm ever got sick. I really don’t know what the negative hype is all about. The cows our milk came from were kept in pasture during the day, walked through the upper part of the village back home, had their udders cleaned and were milked. They were fed and moved back to pasture in the morning.

    Maybe it’s the way cows are kept today – in massive milking operations, up to their knees in their own excrement. They’re pumped full of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, growth hormones, etc. I could certainly see the milk from these types of businesses being contaminated with all sorts of ‘crap’.

    If we kept our livestock the way it was supposed to be kept – outdoors in pasture – we probably wouldn’t have so many food-borne illnesses.

  100. says

    Hi Chris: Our organization is pro .food choice and that includes raw milk in Canada. As the name suggests our basic philosophy is Anti Corruption for the simple reason corruption is a major issue in accessing clean, natural home grown food as well as most of our modern social problems. We are gathering members as I write and will soon become a registered political party in Canada. Cheers on the good work and please help us out if you can. When we are successful in Canada the movement will spread as there is no shortage of corrupt officials in the world. Royce Hamer Leader

  101. Aubrey Williams says

    Chris,

    I realize you are addressing the safety of RAW milk vs. industrial milk, but do you address anywhere the safety of milk in general, whether raw or pasteurized/homogenized. I’m thinking of Pedro Bastos’ work (See AHS 2011 presentation or this blog post: http://www.paleoplan.com/2011/08-15/pedro-bastos-on-dairy/) where he points out that milk is intended as a postnatal food to stimulate rapid growth. Industrial milking practices, which includes some RAW milk dairies, milk cows year-round outside of the roughly 5 months they would produce milk naturally, and therefore may introduce even more estrogen and other hormones into an already hormone-heavy substance.

    Bastos raises concerns for me that ANY milk will be insuligenic and increase IGF-1, which may promote cell proliferation and cancer. Hormone levels, whether “normal” for milk or elevated due to year round milking raise other concerns.

    To draw a parallel, I wonder if discussing RAW vs. pasteurized milk is somewhat like discussing white vs. whole wheat flour. Are we perhaps better off without it altogether?

    Thanks,

    Aubrey

    • Glenn Atkisson says

      Good point Aubrey.
      I touched on the Paleo Diet exclusion in my comment back on May 9th. Chris has covered the paleolithic diet in the past and so I too would like him to revisit the subject of dairy in light of Paleo Diet guidelines some time in the future. I think it would make for an interesting investigation. Pedro Bastos has begun to delve into it, but I’m sure there are a lot of studies out there that reflect on this issue.
      Thanks for bringing this up.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I’ve seen those mechanistic arguments, but most studies that look at actual humans consuming dairy in a free-living environment find that dairy (especially full-fat dairy) is associated with health benefits – not problems. When you consider that most of the people in these studies are probably drinking dairy from factory-farmed, grain-fed cows, that’s interesting.

      • Lynn says

        My point exactly! Where are the studies showing full-fat, unprocessed milk from pastured cows, let’s go so far as even A2/A2 cows, is harmful to human health? I sent this question to Robb Wolf with the subject line, “Dairy-bashing.” Okay, so Paleo-man didn’t have domesticated animals to milk, they also didn’t have buckets, ropes, fences or could stay in one place long enough to develop a milking herd. Just because it wasn’t in the hunter-gatherer diet doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be consumed or was/is harmful. My understanding is that raw milk is the one and only food that can sustain human life for any length of time!

  102. says

    I think you did an excellent job assessing the risks, but I found fault in your use of 2010 population numbers as a basis for estimating percentage risk based on 2000-2007 data for raw milk. It’s a minor issue, but it does skew the risk of illness lower amount by using a population figure that is larger than when the data were recorded. The 2010 census reported 308,745,538 people in the United States, and the 2000 census reported 281,421,906 people. I don’t recall any reason for dramatic shifts in the U.S. population, and a linear estimate would presume that the average population from 2000-2007 was 290,985,177, but it would be most accurate to specify a range (e.g. illness risk from 2000-2007 is between illnesses/308,745,538 and illnesses/281,421,906).

  103. Joe says

    Chris, please address my comment above. You are claiming to be an unbiased researcher, yet your analysis in the article contains serious flaws. It has not been peer-reviewed and it is in a public forum. I am calling you out on your erroneous statistics which you claim as facts, not your opinion or conclusions.

    Please correct your article or rename it Raw Milk Hyperbole because as it stands, it is not Raw Milk Reality.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Joe,

      I’ve been thinking about your comments, and also attending to the many other obligations I have. While I don’t agree with all of your critiques, I do accept your point that it’s unfair to compare two activities with different levels of reported and unreported risks. i.e. if many illnesses caused by raw milk or other foods are not reported, and virtually all car accidents are reported, it’s not accurate to compare those two numbers.

      Tomorrow or Saturday I plan to edit the article. In the case of raw milk illness, I will compare them only to other reported foodborne illness risk. In the case of hospitalizations from raw milk illness, I think it is still fair to compare them to motor vehicle accidents and plane crashes (although imperfect because such comparisons don’t adjust for frequency of travel/consumption). As you conceded, it’s likely that the vast majority of hospitalizations caused by raw milk are reported.

      Beyond that, I have addressed your other comments and I maintain that the data and analysis in this article are sound.

  104. Jay says

    Thanks Chris for the clarification. I meant to distinguish between regular raw cheese and queso fresco statistics since I buy Organic Valley’s raw cheese at Whole Foods.

    I really dislike that it seems health authors/bloggers can’t write an article and discuss raw milk without WAPF being dragged into it. No wonder more paleo writers don’t address the issue. Finally, Chris is providing an attempt to see if WAPF’s information is acurate. Bravo Chris. I’m looking forward to the rest.

    • Lynn says

      FYI: Organic Valley’s “raw” cheeses are, “heat treated 158 degrees for 15 seconds.” and do not meet the pasteurization requirement of “a minimum of 161 degrees F for 15 seconds or more” and thus can be legally labeled “raw.” This plus other irritations with OV have led me to look elsewhere for truly raw cheeses such as Sierra Nevada Cheese Company. The milk used for their raw line of organic cheeses is heated to under 104 F which not only retains more of what we want from dairy but also results in more interesting flavor profiles.

  105. Joe says

    [quote=Chris]
    So far, you have raised one issue with my numbers, which I have addressed (as has Glenn). That does not change the basic thrust of this article. Furthermore, even if the risk of getting ill from drinking raw milk were 1 in 2,800, which I don’t accept for the reasons I mentioned, that is less than 3 times more than the risk of dying in a car crash. Those illnesses may include things as mild as an upset stomach and a little diarrhea. The risk of becoming hospitalized with a serious disease is still orders of magnitude lower than the risk of dying in a car crash. Do you dispute that?[/quote]

    Yes, I raised an issue with your numbers and you haven’t acknowledged that the absolute comparison examples in the article are bad comparisons. You’ve provided a very weak hypothetical phenomenon as justification for EXCLUDING ALL OF THE UNREPORTED ILLNESSES FROM YOUR COMPARISONS. Furthermore, your comparisons are all done in terms of ABSOLUTE RISK. This is very misleading. Glenn also recognized this point when he said: “I appreciate that you are pointing out that the risk comparison in this article is not accurate. I agree with you.” And why shouldn’t he agree? Your numbers are clearly wrong.

    I didn’t come up with the ratio of reported/actual foodborne illness. In your own writing: “In 1999, CDC scientists used an estimate of the overall prevalence of diarrhea and vomiting to calculate the “true” incidence of foodborne illness as 76 million cases per year! Put another way, 99.97% of foodborne illnesses go unreported.” I do not believe that you have adequately addressed this unfair comparison. If you don’t accept the 97.7% ratio, then what do you propose to do, make up a number? How is that going to benefit the analysis? Do you think it’s still appropriate to exclude all of the unreported illnesses, which is admittedly the vast majority? Don’t you think that it makes a difference when you say that “you are about 12 times more likely to die in a car crash on your way to pick up your raw milk than you are to get sick from drinking it” even though it would be more fair to say that you are about 2.5 times more likely to get sick from drinking raw milk (1 in 3200) than you are to die in a car accident (1 in 8000)? I agree when you say “The risk of becoming hospitalized with a serious disease is still orders of magnitude lower than the risk of dying in a car crash.” I’ve never disputed that since there would be very few serious illnesses that go unreported.

    [quote=Chris]
    You are discounting the idea that raw milk numbers are skewed, yet accepting as fact the estimate for total foodborne illnesses each year – which is just a guess not based on any culture-confirmation or other empirical data. That’s a double standard.
    [\quote]

    I’m not discounting the idea that raw milk numbers are skewed. In fact, as I stated earlier, if you believe the numbers are skewed against raw milk, then you can’t use any of the data. If they are skewed, then you can’t use the reported statistics! The stated intent of this article is to “give you the bare facts without bias or hyperbole so you can make an informed decision about whether raw milk is a good choice for you and your family.” You have chosen to accept these statistics, not me. You argue that the absolute risk of getting sick from raw milk is extremely small. I’m pointing out that the numbers that you use to calculate absolute risk of getting sick are grossly understated since they don’t include the vast majority of the illnesses. I also am showing you a more accurate comparison by including the 97.7% estimate of the ratio. This is not a double standard, this is a fair comparison.

    [quote=Chris]
    If you want to stick with only empirical data, then we should be discussing safety numbers based on reported illnesses adjusted for consumption. That’s what this article does.[\quote]

    We can discuss only empirical data if you want to stay away from the estimate of the unreported/reported illnesses. In my opinion, this is the most fair and accurate thing to do. That means we can’t argue the absolute risk of getting sick from raw milk at all. We don’t have any data that shows the total number of illnesses from drinking raw milk. We can still compare the relative risks of drinking raw milk to other foods and to pasteurized milk which the article has done. But we can not compare raw milk safety against any other activities!

    As the article stands now, it is incorrect. You need to either correct your numbers or take out the absolute risk comparisons with other activities. Maybe it doesn’t change the basic thrust of the article, or maybe it does. That’s up to the reader to decide. Regardless, the numbers have to be accurate.

    • Mike says

      Joe seems to have his own agenda. He keeps going on (and on) about the 99.97% of foodborne illnesses that go unreported and how this skews the comparison to car accidents. Do we report 100% of car accidents… every little scratch and dent? I don’t think so. I do not understand why keep ranting about it. In my mind unreported means not significant enough to report, be that food or car-related “injury”. I do not see why we should be concerning ourselves with unreported illnesses.

      You say “you can’t pick and choose data or throw out certain data points or else your work is not objective and is actually harmful to the community…”. Yet, that’s exactly what you seem to be doing.

  106. Jay says

    Is there any way to know the statistics of the fermented raw milk versus raw milk? Is raw cheese, raw butter, etc ever caused kidney failure?

    • Chris Kresser says

      I’ve never seen any statistics on fermented dairy. According to the CSPI, there has never been an outbreak associated with commercial, properly aged raw cheese. The outbreaks associated with raw milk cheese have been from “Queso Fresco” style homemade cheese.

  107. gregory barton says

    On further reflection, the point of my post, above, is:
    i. There is no standardized product called raw milk. One of the reasons that people are against raw milk is that it is not regulated, so it could contain anything.
    ii. From my experience, all raw miilk will probably contain some pathogens. The question is degree.
    iii. The “less than one in a million” chance of sickness statistic indicates that most of the time the pathogens won’t harm you.

    If you’re still concerned, what’s the solution? Test! Buy a bottle of CMT solution and test your raw milk. If the milk is dangerously infected you’ll probably find out within a few seconds.

  108. says

    Joe: “Also if you take into account that children are more likely to be sickened, that is an issue that should be considered by many families. It is an important point that wasn’t even mentioned in this article. For example take a look at the latest outbreak in Campylobacter from Organic Pastures a few days ago. Six of the ten people sickened are under 18. In the e coli outbreak in Oregon, 15 of the 19 were under 19 years old.”

    Thank you for making that point and your data analysis above. I get frustrated with the comparison to automobile travel aside from data analysis because in most cases automobile travel is necessary. The gov’t lawmakers, enforcers, and safety experts have made the automobile industry highly regulated when it comes to the safety of our children. Here in CA, you can’t even leave the hospital without showing the nurse a properly installed car seat for your infant.

    What is the raw milk industry doing about PROPER education about raw milk safety? Mark McAfee’s RAWMI? That seems like a joke because he has had 6 recalls in the past 6 years. The gov’t is focused on crackdown and recalls. Who loses in the meantime? The children.

  109. Joe says

    Hey Glenn, I couldn’t respond to your last comment in order for some reason, so I’ll add my thoughts here.

    While you may be at peace with the spirit of Chris’ argument, that’s your opinion and you are entitled to it, but please don’t attempt to speak for everyone else. I don’t see how you can conclude that other people are comfortable with the risks as well. I am certainly not comfortable with the risks. The 1 in 2800 number isn’t the worst-case scenario, it is the most fair comparison. If you use the CDC data then the 1 in 2800 number becomes much worse. Also if you take into account that children are more likely to be sickened, that is an issue that should be considered by many families. It is an important point that wasn’t even mentioned in this article. For example take a look at the latest outbreak in Campylobacter from Organic Pastures a few days ago. Six of the ten people sickened are under 18. In the e coli outbreak in Oregon, 15 of the 19 were under 19 years old.

    Fortunately your children grew up without any problems. Count your blessings. Mary McGonigle-Martin’s child wasn’t so lucky. How long ago did your children grow up? Were there as many CAFO farms and e coli outbreaks back then as there are now?

    When you have outbreaks like this, no amount of “safe-handling” is going to avoid the problem. And your idea about rotating to a new batch of milk to avoid kidney failure is way too little too late. The genie is already out of the bottle at that point.

  110. Joanna says

    I was thinking of the fact that so many families consumed raw milk in the good ol’ days and didn’t get ill. I asked my husband, and he hypothesized that maybe there are new, more virulent strains of e coli and other bacteria which did not exist before the age of intensive monocultures and CAFOs, that what used to be safe is no longer safe. Thoughts?

    • says

      Here’s Beals’ other article on the pathogen-killing ability of raw milk:

      http://www.realmilk.com/documents/PathogensinRawMilk.pdf

      It’s in response to a white paper I wrote to provide readers with information about the peer-reviewed literature on the topic. I asked Beals for citations on his general conclusion and have waited nearly two years for a response.

      The bottom line is that a choice for raw milk cannot be free if consumers are not informed. The urban legend about Mark McAfee spiking his milk with pathogens and those pathogens disappearing does nothing to help consumer choice. That was the big discussion here:

      http://www.ethicurean.com/2009/07/20/raw-milk-mem/

      There have also been strange situations where consumers thought their farmer had one type of practice (e.g. grass fed) only to end up in an outbreak with pictures from the state about dirt pens. These situations are an affront to free choice. I wrote a buyer’s guide to help consumers analyze their farm:

      http://www.traditional-foods.com/sourcing/raw-milk/

      Amanda

      • Chris Kresser says

        I agree that the claim that raw milk kills pathogens cannot be supported by the current data. On Friday I will be publishing an article about the potential benefits and advantages of raw milk, and while there is some very limited data suggesting that certain pathogens are less likely to proliferate in raw milk, it’s not solid evidence at all.

        Thanks for the link to your guide. I will include it in Part 3 of this series where I discuss a framework for evaluating whether raw milk is a good choice for you and your family, and how to minimize risk.

  111. says

    Being a dairy goat farmer in the tropics this is a topic close to my heart.

    Raw milk is not pathogenic in itself. It is only contaminated raw milk that is problematic and that depends on the pathogen with which the milk is infected, of which there are many.

    There are two ways milk can be contaminated:
    i. in the udder of the goat (or cow) by reason of infection; or
    ii. in the handling of the milk from milking to cheese making. Farms are inherently dirty places. Even if you follow the best practices (as I endevour to do), you can’t stop the occasional hair falling into the milk bucket and you can’t stop the animals pooping in the environment.

    We do a weekly CMT test for all of our milking does. CMT is the California Mastitis Test which tests for somatic cells in the milk. Each udder of each doe is tested. There are four grades of result:
    i. clear, slight, medium, which indicate either subclinical mastitis or the end of a lactation period (around 30 to 40 weeks of milking) and
    ii. high, which we treat as clinical mastitis.

    Only the milk of does with a “high” result is destroyed. The “subclinical” milk goes into the pot to make cheese along with the ‘clear’. We do a very slow semi-pastuerization: one hour to reach 165 degrees F on a very small flame and, upon reaching 165 degrees, the heat is extinguished immediately.

    Every CMT test reveals at least one or two does with a “slight” result in at least one udder. That means that our daily milk batch always has a chance of being infected. In the rare cases where the doe tests “high” the infected milk could be mixed with the unifected milk for a few days before it is detected and eliminated. This is one reason that I prefer to do the pasteurization.

    Nonetheless, a lab report on our cheese reports no staphylococcus aureus, no salmonella, no lysteria monocytogenes and bacillus cereus at only 2% of the guideline limit. You can see a copy of the report on our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/luludaisy

    We also have many customers who, by special request, purchase raw milk. None of them has reported any illness after drinking it. On the contrary, one is convinced that the raw milk has ‘magical properties’, so much so that I’ve started to try the raw milk myself for yogurt.

  112. Mary McGonigle-Martin says

    Chris, until you have sat in a pediatric intensive care unit with your child’s hands tied to the bedrail, chest tubes coming out of both sides, on a ventilator to breathe, a kidney dialysis port to clean the blood and another port for feeding and medication, you have no idea what you are talking about. When raw milk is contaminated there is tremendous suffering.

    You are obviously a WAPF follower. You are using your credentials to encourage people to feed their children raw milk. God forbid someone listens to your spin about the low risk and gives contaminated raw milk to their child and they become severely ill.

    So far this year there have been 6 raw milk outbreak and 152 illnesses. This includes 6 or 7 kids with kidney failure. When cow shit gets in the milk, bad things happen. For God’s sake, there are so many other immune building foods besides raw milk. If you want to take risks with your own child, go for it, but don’t encourage others to make the same choice.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I’m not encouraging others to do anything. I stated clearly in the article that it’s a personal choice. It’s horrific that children have become ill from drinking raw milk, and as a parent I can imagine the pain and suffering that would cause. It’s understandable that someone who has a child that has been sickened by raw milk would feel strongly about it. Yet kids (and adults) also get sick from pasteurized milk, and a number of other foods. Kids have died from other foodborne illnesses. Is that not equally terrible?

      This is analogous to the decision on whether to vaccinate and how to give birth. Homebirth critics speak as if there is no risk in giving birth in a hospital (which is wrong). Advocates of vaccination speak as if there is no risk in vaccinating their children (which is wrong). There are risks associated with either choice. Sickness, accidents and death – as tragic as they are – are all part of life.

      Raw milk also involves some risk, but many parents (myself included) believe we should have the right to choose whether that risk is acceptable to us or not.

      While 6 outbreaks and 152 illnesses is tragic, it is still a very small percentage (about 1 in 62,000) of the 9.4 million people that drink raw milk. The risk of a serious illness is 1 in 1.34 million. Do you dispute these numbers? If so, please tell me how. Otherwise, we’re talking about a personal decision about risk. You’ve made it clear where you stand, and I respect that. But other parents have examined the risk and made a different decision. That’s their prerogative, just as they are free to choose homebirth and not vaccinating.

      (FYI I’m not a “follower” of WAPF. I have a similar perspective on nutrition and health, but I don’t agree with everything they put out there. I rarely do in the case of any institution or organization.)

      • Kristen P says

        Chris Kresser: “(FYI I’m not a “follower” of WAPF. I have a similar perspective on nutrition and health, but I don’t agree with everything they put out there. I rarely do in the case of any institution or organization.)”

        WAPF: http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/diet-for-pregnant-and-nursing-mothers
        Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers
        Written by Weston A. Price Foundation
        January 10 2004

        Cod Liver Oil to supply 20,000 IU vitamin A and 2000 IU vitamin D per day
        1 quart (or 32 ounces) whole milk daily, preferably raw and from pasture-fed cows (learn more about raw milk on our website, A Campaign for Real Milk, http://www.realmilk.com)
        4 tablespoons butter daily, preferably from pasture-fed cows
        2 or more eggs daily, preferably from pastured chickens
        Additional egg yolks daily, added to smoothies, salad dressings, scrambled eggs, etc.
        3-4 ounces fresh liver, once or twice per week (If you have been told to avoid liver for fear of getting “too much Vitamin A,” be sure to read Vitamin A Saga)
        Fresh seafood, 2-4 times per week, particularly wild salmon, shellfish and fish eggs

        Chris Kresser: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/5-primal-superfoods-for-fertility-and-pregnancy/#ixzz1uy7IQEPN
        With this in mind, here are the top 5 “superfoods” I recommend for fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

        Liver. Ounce for ounce, liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It’s loaded with fat soluble vitamins like retinol (pre-formed vitamin A) that are crucial for reproductive health, and difficult to obtain elsewhere in the diet. Liver is also a great source of highly absorbable iron, which helps prevent miscarriage and maternal anemia, and B12, which is required for proper formation of red blood cells and DNA. Liver is also a good source of bioavailable protein, zinc, and folate.
        Egg yolks. Like liver, egg yolks could be considered “nature’s multivitamin”. But they are especially rich in a nutrient many people have never heard of: choline. Studies suggest that 86% of women don’t get enough choline in their diet. This is significant because choline helps protect against neural tube defects. It also plays an important role in brain development, helping to form cholinergic neurons and the connections between these neurons that are so crucial in the first few years of life.
        Cold-water, fatty fish*. Seafood is the exclusive food source of the long-chain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. DHA is particularly important for fertility and pregnancy. It is preferentially incorporated into the rapidly developing brain during pregnancy and the first two years of infancy, concentrating in the grey matter and eyes. It’s also crucial to the formation of neurons, which are the functional cells in the brain, and to protecting the brain from oxidative damage. Salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines are excellent sources of DHA.
        Cod liver oil. Yep, grandma was right! Cod liver oil is a sacred fertility and pregnancy food that fell out of favor during the last couple of generations, but is making a comeback. It’s one of the highest dietary sources of vitamin A, which we discussed above. It has more vitamin D per unit weight than any other food. Vitamin D is crucial to fertility and pregnancy, and studies show that up to 50% of women are deficient in it. Vitamin D promotes proper development of the bones, especially during the 3rd trimester when the fetal skeleton begins to grow rapidly. Cod liver oil is also a good source of the long-chain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.
        Grass-fed dairy. While dairy is not strictly a Primal food, it’s a great choice for fertility and pregnancy for those who tolerate it well. Dairy is rich in saturated fat, which is especially beneficial for fertility. It’s also a good source of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K2 & E) and a healthy, natural trans-fat (not to be confused with artificial trans-fats, which are harmful) conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Fermented dairy products – like yogurt and kefir – are also great sources of beneficial bacteria. This is important because a baby’s first exposure to bacteria is in his/her mother’s birth canal, and the mother’s gut health has a significant influence on the lifelong health of her baby.

        Your top 5 are their same top 5.
        You may not follow their recommendations as far as dosages to a T, but do you promote their nursing and pregnancy recommendations in your Healthy Baby Code as completely your own? You should at least give credit where credit is due…for their influence on you and your family’s nutrition. Are you a member of WAPF? Do you not feed raw milk kefir to your family or have said on your podcast how raw milk was so nourishing for your pregnant wife? Are you not speaking at the WAPF conference this coming November?

        Claiming to be an unbiased ‘researcher’ delving into the raw milk data is disingenuous, Chris. It’s about as unbiased at Ted Beals, M.D.’s work, quoted by Beth below, which is very similar to your article here.

        • Chris Kresser says

          I said that I agree with much of their approach to nutrition. Did you miss that? Apparently so. I have also given credit to them on multiple occasions on my radio show and in my writing. And yes, I’m speaking at their conference. Does that make me a “follower”? No. It doesn’t interfere with my ability to think critically, or to disagree with them when I think they’re wrong.

          Where is my “bias”? What do I have to gain from clarifying the data on raw milk safety? I don’t sell it, I don’t make money from it, I don’t have anything to gain from it. Period. I’m just a person that drinks raw milk, believes in its health benefits, and have determined through my own research that its risk has been overstated.

          That is not bias, that is discernment and judgment.

          • SC says

            I don’t think any one group or organization can claim they discovered the health benefits of milk, eggs, butter, cod liver oil, seafood etc… People where enjoying these nutrient dense food sources for thousands of years well before the birth of Weston A. Price and the WAPF organization founding in the late 1990’s. The important factor is not the messenger but rather the message itself and that the message gets out to as many people as possible from as many sources as possible. The end game is to help as many people as possible enjoy a healthy active life for as long as possible.

        • Glenn Atkisson says

          Kristen P: This is a good point “Claiming to be an unbiased ‘researcher’ delving into the raw milk data is disingenuous, Chris.” I’m not saying it is true. In fact you are making some strong assumptions and then this conclusion. You are seeing a connection between Chris and WAPF (speaking engagement), and you are seeing similar recommendations, and assuming collusion. That is not fair. Intuitive, possibly right, but not proven, and therefore not fair in my mind.
          The reason I’m saying your point about claiming to be an unbiased researcher is good is this: people who are circumspect know the WAPF has a bias. It is not just an organization which spreads the word on ways to health. They reap their funds from small dairy, fish, egg, and meat companies which tend to run more “sustainable” businesses than the large Ag companies of the USA. So their word is slanted to favor those foods. For instance, in your cited WAPF article on foods for a pregnant mother or nursing mother, in the list of recommended foods, “fresh fruits and vegetables” comes in dead last. Lumped together like that, and right before the list of foods to avoid. Now I understand this is not a diet, with daily quantities of each item to consume, but the typical person reading this list will tend to chose foods from the top of the list first and try to work downward, but will regard foods at the end of the list with less respect. What will happen, if a mother treats this list in that way and disregards a proper intake of the last items on the list, is she will likely become constipated on day 2, and remain constipated for as long as she eats this way. Not only that, short of taking heavy loads of supplements, she will probably be way short on enzymes, minerals and many vitamins, not to mention roughage and microflora to keep her gut and therefore her immune system healthy! This is not the best example I have, but it is a good example of how WAPF distorts guidelines for healthy living in favor of the products of it’s sponsoring organizations, the small meat/dairy companies, which don’t care about vegetable sales.
          As a result of your warning, (and I’ve given similar warnings to other health guru’s) I would advise Chris to be aware that being connected to the WAPF in any way, even via a speaking engagement, will tend to raise a flag in the minds of those of us who are looking for as unbiased sources as possible. This doesn’t say that Chris doesn’t do his own research, and that research is uninfluenced by the WAPF. I am not saying that his speaking before a WAPF audience makes him undependable, but I think it is important that he declare these things to his readers, and probably give a little extra qualifications and proof of his difference from the WAPF when he writes articles that might align with the WAPF bias.
          What I would like to see as an example of that type qualification in Chris’s followup articles on Raw milk would be some discussion of milk as a food from a paleolithic diet point of view, since this is one point of view Chris has also written on before in a positive light. I think this is important because a Paleo diet is not totally in agreement with diet items that WAPF emphasizes. At this point in time, I believe for Chris to maintain credibility with his already secured audience, it is important for him to state exactly how he differs from the WAPF on issues concerning foods that they promote heavily. That will give me a greater level of trust in his “Medicine for the 21st Century”. I admit, this is just me. But I’m trying to help Chris remain credible, and the time to start is when the first item of question arises. I know there are those out there who think the WAPF is the cat’s meow. I say they have not done their research. It is a marketing tool, used successfully by certain purveyors of food. The WAPF helps companies sell food. The food happens to be healthy food, but one cannot live on WAPF marketed foods alone. Never do they give guidelines for how to weight your diet. They just push the foods of their sponsors, just as Madison Avenue companies push the foods of their clients.
          For instance, the last workshop given by the WAPF regarding raw milk was on April 19, 2012 in Temecula, CA. It was titled “Raw Milk: The Benefits Abound”. Here’s the thumbnail they show:
          “Come learn how to build and nourish your immune system by drinking raw milk!
          Organic Pastures Dairy founder, Mark McAfee, will share the benefits of drinking raw, organic, unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk combining colorful PowerPoint slides, free raw milk samples and high energy speaking to enlighten and inform. Armed with truth and knowledge, your health will never be the same again. Join the 50,000 raw milk consumers in CA who have made this choice and have never looked back.”
          This is claimed to be distributing “truth” but it sounds a lot more like a sales pitch to me.
          Thanks again for raising a warning flag, Kristen. I wonder what the Organic Pastures Dairy speaker had to say regarding contamination risks. I wonder if anyone even asked a question. In my experience, WAPF audiences are very “faithful” people.

          • SC says

            I think Chris covered this already above, so not sure why the need for such a lengthy post? If you have a thing against WAPF than that is your right/opinion. Chris is just discussing the topic regarding the safety of Raw milk.

            • Glenn Atkisson says

              No, SC, Chris did not cover this as probably Kristen, and definitely myself would wish him to cover it. It’s so simple. Let me lay it out for you.
              If Chris really has no monetary or contract ties to the WAPF, he can very simply declare what his significant differences are with the aims of that organization – here and now! If he has ties, he will make some claims like he did above, but he won’t state his differences, as that will either break a contract he has with them, or cost him his chance to speak at their functions.
              As Chris stated above, in his reply to Mary McGonigle-Martin “(FYI I’m not a “follower” of WAPF. I have a similar perspective on nutrition and health, but I don’t agree with everything they put out there. I rarely do in the case of any institution or organization.)”
              I’m claiming that any unbiased researcher can state their perspective on health and compare themselves to other organizations and points of view. Chris does this all the time. He does it every time someone submits a comment questioning his point of view. He states his reasons for his difference with them. So lets ask him to state his differences with the WAPF line. To give us a few of their articles, quoted verbatim, and then state where he differs. If he can put it in print, we might want to accept him as unbiased, with respect to the WAPF at least. If he won’t do this, I say we are allowed to see him as helping to maintain the WAPF bias, possibly to avoid a financial loss or to increase a financial gain.
              Per Kristen’s statement above, she already seems to assume Chris is aligned with the WAPF and will parrot their line. I am open minded. I’ll give him a chance to prove his independence from that organization by stating his differences in a significant way. The sooner the better. You would be willing to do the same, wouldn’t you? Are you a member of the WAPF? Simple question.

              • SC says

                No, I am not a WAPF member. Even if Chris was a member which he said he is not, it would have no bearing on the information he is presenting regarding raw milk. He is simply stating some points to consider. These points can be disregarded, disputed or debated. Read the information and make your own decision on whether you feel raw milk is safe relative to the benefits. Obviously, Chris agrees with WAPF that raw milk is nutrious and safe relative to the risks. He has been upfront regarding his personal and his family’s consumption of raw milk.

              • Chris Kresser says

                Glenn,

                I never said I wasn’t a member of WAPF. I am. This involves paying an annual membership fee ($30, if I recall). In return I get 6 issues of the WAPF journal. It has some interesting articles in it, some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t. I have tremendous respect for Chris Masterjohn, who is a frequent contributor. I also support much of the work they do in terms of nutrition education and advocacy for breastfeeding and natural child-rearing.

                I receive no money from the WAPF. I’m not being paid to speak at the conference (though they do reimburse for travel expenses, which I won’t be incurring in this case since I live very close to where the conference is this year.) I have no “contract ties” with them, whatever that means. I think you have a vivid imagination when it comes to the WAPF. As far as I know, they don’t have people under “contract”. And if they uninvited me to speak at their conference because I disagreed with them on something, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I’m not employed by them, nor do I represent them. I have nothing to gain by promoting their approach when I agree with it, nor anything to lose when I disagree with it.

                I don’t feel the need to list where I agree and disagree with WAPF, because I don’t feel a need to defend my credibility. My blog, radio show and other activities establish whether I’m credible or not far more than what you or I say or don’t say. Just as Lynn said.

                That said, if you’re familiar with WAPF claims for the benefits of raw milk, you will see where I disagree to some extent in my article on raw milk benefits on Friday.

                • SC says

                  Chris… did not mean to mis-quote you on the WAPF mebership. Like I said, either way it’s a non issue.

                • Glenn Atkisson says

                  Chris, SC and Lynn –
                  I only suggested Chris make some statements about his differences with WAPF to help clear his name from what Kristen seemed to be asserting: That he was somehow aligned with them, or promoting purely their viewpoint. I’m looking forward to his statement of some of these differences along with all the other new information he provides in his upcoming article.
                  For me, when someone suggest that I am no longer believable, that becomes the priority, over and above the subject at hand. So that’s how I began treating my input on this forum once the question was raised by Kristen.
                  I am all in favor of Chris making it clear that he is not some kind of pawn of the WAPF so we can continue this discussion normally. He has done a lot of that in his reply to me.
                  SC, you are right that even if Chris is a member, it should have no bearing on his ability to come to his own conclusions regarding raw milk. Membership was never my focus. I raised the question of contracts or other financial ties because that is far more important to keeping one’s free agency.
                  What the average person does not understand about WAPF is that the dues you pay as a member is only part of their income. They receive considerable money from what they call “sponsors”: companies that pay for booths at their conferences. Companies pay to be “sponsors” and those same company’s products are then touted by the WAPF speakers at these conferences. I’m not saying the generic product, like “beef” or “raw milk” is touted. I’m saying the specific products of a company. So if Organic Pastures Dairy is a sponsor at an event for example, the WAPF speaker can be expected to push their products, even if those products were found tainted in a recent outbreak of e-coli. It is a way to advertise product. It is far from the origins of Price and his research. The average WAPF member thinks the organization takes their membership dues, and uses it to help spread the word on eating more natural foods. But the members are actually just being used, because their donations toward membership has the effect of making “believers” and “supporters” out of them. They have, in their minds, joined a “cause”. WAPF puts on the face of “representing the little farmer” and members jump on the band wagon. A lot of this started when vegetarians and vegans and the low-fat proponents (which were some very big food industry companies) were giving the animal product producers a really hard time, for example with commercials selling low-fat foods. For WAPF to support local meat and dairy farm products that are raised more naturally seemed a logical thing to do. As it happens though, it turned into big business. And this is my only problem with WAPF. They are functioning as an advertising arm of an industry (not a huge and unhealthy industry, but an industry all the same), and claiming to be something else. And some of these “small” farms are now quite large businesses, and they really enjoy having a non-profit organization help them advertise.
                  Please read Kristen Papac’s post which follows this. She is a past WAPF member who has delved farther into seeking truth and has found information which she never would have been provided by WAPF. It might behoove us all to delve into her blog. WAPF is not about research, except to help sell product of sponsors. It is not about truth, if that means the whole truth. It is about enough truth to sell product, but no more, and no negative-side truth. That is NOT truth.
                  Please read the WAPF mission statement, found under their “About Us” tab on their main page: http://www.westonaprice.org/
                  That is where they have their chance to convince the member that they are just a knowledge dissemination organization. In this mission statement they say “The Foundation is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism.” Well, it is commonly accepted that the most nutrient dense foods are vegetables. But vegetables are never an item for discussion at a WAPF conference. Why is that?
                  Weston Price considered the intake of raw vegetables very important, and went so far as to recommend a lacto-vegetarian diet to his family.
                  The mission statement concludes with “PLEASE NOTE: The Weston A. Price Foundation is NOT a trade association.”. Why do they need to put this in if they don’t resemble a trade association? It’s all just a sales pitch, masked as enlightenment. It’s too bad we can’t see their income statement, isn’t it? As Kristen says, “Sally Fallon-Morell has probably made a lot of money off this organization”.
                  Notes:
                  There are several ways to determine “nutrient rich”. Here are a few, and the WAPF doesn’t push these foods, though their charter says they want to restore nutrient dense foods to the human diet:
                  1. Anti-oxidants contained —
                  http://www.generationsoforganic.org/news/latest-news/the-top-12-organic-foods-highest-in-antioxidants/
                  2. Total nutrient mix —
                  http://www.generationsoforganic.org/news/latest-news/the-top-12-organic-foods-highest-in-antioxidants/
                  3. Life Extension Foundation’s ANDI score —
                  http://blog.lef.org/2011/11/most-nutrient-dense-foods.html

                • Chris Kresser says

                  For the record, I don’t agree at all with your assessment of WAPF and so far you have provided no proof of your assertions other than your own interpretations and assumptions. Organizations have to make money to support their activities. This is as true of non-profits across a variety of disciplines as it is of for-profit corporations. This does not by itself make an organization corrupt, or make the information they share unreliable. That has to be evaluated separately. This thread is not about the WAPF, and I’m not going to approve any more of these comments. If you want to continue, you can do it elsewhere.

          • Lynn says

            First off, I am a WAPFer and a raw milk drinker for many years. I therefore have “bias,” and I also enjoy excellent health. I feel compelled to comment about your perception of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Its purpose is to, “disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets.” Read Dr. Price’s, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” to get an understanding why the Foundation promotes the foods it does. The Foundation is a membership-driven organization and does not, “reap their funds from small dairy, fish, egg, and meat companies” nor is it a “marketing tool.” The Foundation has also been accused of taking money from Big Ag, from the meat and dairy industry. My understanding is that through membership fees are they able to remain a functioning non-profit organization. Personally I am thrilled Chris is coming to speak to us in November, apparently he is able to put aside his differences and disagreements with some of the Foundation’s recommendations. I don’t agree with everything coming from the Foundation either, much has been learned in the years since Dr. Price’s book was published. If a presenter had to agree 100%, I’d bet there’d be no speakers at all. I think the focus should be on what we have in common – finding our individual paths to optimal health. That takes discussion, forums, and yes, disagreements and debates. One last comment: I can’t imagine Chris needs your help to “remain credible.”

            • Glenn Atkisson says

              Thanks for your reply Lynn. You admit you have a bias. I have no complaint with how you operate! Stay healthy. Seek out alternative points of view to help balance your bias. Be happy we are all here on this earth communicating. It enriches the learning experience.

          • says

            Glenn,

            I just want it made clear that I have not claimed to be unbiased in this matter of raw milk. I used to feed it to my children and family. My husband had very strong objections to feeding raw milk to our children. I ignored him because I was strongly biased because of my involvement in WAPF. Unlike Chris, I did not know how to do a cost/benefit analysis. My husband did, and he tried to talk with me about his concerns, but I was one of the “faithful”. :) I believed their propaganda that raw milk miraculously kills pathogens…to the point that it makes it safe for children to consume. Even if they are not promoting that argument anymore, it is still a prevalent belief in WAPF culture and they haven’t exactly clarified the already muddied water. You can read about my frustrations with WAPF on my blog linked to above.

            As for WAPF’s funding, it appears that Sally Fallon-Morell has made a lot of money from her WAP Foundation. I could be wrong about that and I have not the paper documents to prove this yet, so I cannot speak of my theory publicly. Many of my old acquaintances in WAPF would definitely fall under the category of “believers”. In fact I wrote a post about leaving WAPF’s group think mentality.

            As for Mark McAfee, I have a select few words for him and none of them are pretty. The latest example: Currently his Organic Pastures is under recall for Campylobacter and he has told his consumer base to keep right on drinking his raw milk they have stored up. He is an excellent salesman.

            SC,
            Why attack Glenn? He writes a lot but seems to be able to entertain both sides of an argument which is more than I can say for you. He writes a lot, so what?

            Best,
            Kristen

            • SC says

              I would not classify my post as attack oriented unlike your posts regarding WAPF. Seems like you are trying to use Chris’s post as an opportuntiy to attack WAPF. I don’t recall Chris mentioning WAPF in his article.

            • Glenn Atkisson says

              Kristen,
              I can just say it is great to have someone around who’s seen both sides of the WAPF. I’m sure your eyes are far wider open than any of us who have only been outside it, or are still inside it. Thanks for your insight. If I were going to have to trust someone to represent to me what was the meaning and value of the WAPF, it would be someone who has been there and back, like yourself. Stick around! Money can hardly buy your experience, and it probably can’t buy your silence either. All the best.

              • says

                Glenn,

                You are my new BFF. When can we meet for drinks? Lol.

                More seriously, there are a few of us ex-WAPFers out there. It’s been a wild ride for sure. It’s been a heartbreaking to see the ugly side of people you once idolized or thought were caring people, but also a time of great personal maturation. I’ve learned to not cry over people who would definitely not cry over me. I’ve gotten a lot of support, but support from a caring stranger is the best kind. It’s nice to feel heard.

                I thought that no one was my guru before this whole mess, including what has been written here, but now I truly know the meaning of that statement. I am in total control of my health and the health of my family now, and with that comes great responsibility.

                If you want to talk further, you can contact me via Facebook or Twitter (@kikiphotog).

                All the best,
                Kristen

            • Heather says

              Um, that would be because the outbreak turned out to have nothing to do with raw milk and McAfee knew it. CDFA jumped the gun, big time. The reason McAfee has a megaphone the size he does is that CA’s approach to raw milk regulation excludes small dairies, chokes all production into a couple of dairies big enough to afford complying with the regs, and drives the price through the roof. In the past half dozen years, we have moved back and forth between the St Louis area and the San Jose area a few times. In SJ, I have to do business with Organic Pastures or Claravale–there is no one else. I do business with Claravale, but I think even their farm is too big and not local enough. When I was in St Louis, I bought my raw milk from a local farmer, whose operation I could visit by driving an hour out into the country. The farmer brought the milk into the city once a week, so it was her we talked to every time (MO allows direct farmer-to-customer sales of raw milk ONLY), and I bought both my milk from her and free range eggs, as well, both produced in conditions I approved of–and for 25% of the price either commands in the Bay Area. But, aside from requiring direct sales, the MO government stays out of the matter (generally, anyway–the AG had a burr under his saddle a couple of years ago about off-farm deliveries, but he lost in court)

          • Heather says

            If you want to know what Mark McAfee has to say about raw milk risks, search his name on you tube. He’s not a quiet man!

            So WAPF gets their funding from “small farmers”, etc. I would like to see evidence that it gets most of its funding from anything much but individual membership fees and donations. Frankly, I’ve lived in farm country most of my life (not now, but 36 out of 40 years so far, I’ve lived in the rural Midwest). Small farmers hardly ever have money to blow–or much to donate. I’m lovin’ the slow food/whole foods/traditional food/WAPF movement because it might be the one thing that can finally save the real American family farm (not the modern “family farm” where they have 1000’s of acres of GMO corn on contract to ADM or Cargill or whoever)

            WAPF and associated orgs, such as the FTCLDF, are poking the powers that be with a pointy stick in some tender spots…and the poked are trying to find ways to slander the poker into oblivion.

  113. Jay says

    Great article Chris. In the raw milk books by Gumpert and Schmid, the glaring obvious aspect that distorts the statistics is the government agents hear a victim drank raw milk and their investigation is over. Other possible suspects are dismissed immediately and the raw milk has to be the culprit so why look further much less matc hthe pathogen. Thus, raw milk is probably even less dangerous than the statistics show.

    • Heather says

      Exactly. Follow-up the story of the Organic Pastures outbreak earlier this year–which turned out to be salad, not raw milk. This is not even the first time this has happened to Organic Pastures–another time it was spinach watered with sewage runoff, but the outbreak was originally blamed on raw milk. When the real culprit is found, does anyone at the fedgov alphabet soup agencies bother to move the tallies from the “raw milk” column to the appropriate one? To find out that they are not so conscientious wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  114. says

    Chris:
    What you are glossing over with your modified data mining and interpretation is the fact that children are disproportionately likely to be extremely sickened by raw milk (kidney failure). In the latest e.coli outbreak in Oregon from raw milk from Foundation Farms, 19 people are sick with e.coli, 15 of the cases are under 19 years old and 4 of the children have been hospitalized with kidney failure. According to a member of the herdshare, at least 4 of the farmers own children were sickened and one with HUS.

    This is a 48 household herdshare.

    You can always find statistics to argue a point. In this case you have a roughly ten percent chance that a child per household will experience kidney failure from complications of ecoli 0157:H7. You have an approximately 40% chance that someone in your household will get sick from ecoli 0157:H7 contaminated raw milk.

    This is just the latest outbreak. I can guarantee that if you look at the outbreak statistics for raw milk you will find that children are disproportionately represented. Pasteurization is the only method to prevent illness from e.coli, salmonella and listeria.

    It is only a matter of time before a child dies from drinking raw milk. So far this hasn’t happened because modern emergency medicine has brought these HUS children back from the brink of death.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I didn’t gloss over anything and I didn’t do any “data mining”. I’m using the exact same data that all of the anti-raw milk activists use. In fact, I’m using the most comprehensive data set possible because I also included data from two outbreaks (one from pasteurized milk, the other from raw milk) that weren’t included in the CDC line-by-line data, which was obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. How is that “data mining”?

      You continue to ignore or distort the point of the article, which is that the absolute risk is very, very small. Do people get sick? Yes. Do they get very sick? Yes? Is there a chance a death could occur? Yes. But as I said, these risks need to be weighed against the potential benefits of raw milk and compared with other risks that people take every day of their lives. This includes parents putting their children in cars, which is a much higher risk activity than giving them raw milk.

      Using a single outbreak to estimate the risks of getting sick from raw milk is not sound science. That is an inadequate sample size to draw any conclusions from. To come up with a reasonable estimate, you have to use data from a longer period of time and average out the numbers. This is what pro- and anti-raw milk advocates do because they understand that it’s not appropriate to use a single case like this and extrapolate from it.

      How people respond to the data, and how they determine whether the benefits are worth the risk, is their prerogative. If you think raw milk is not worth the risk, that’s your decision. But you have not challenged any of the actual data in this article.

      • Joe says

        Chris, your article does not contain any science, only statistics to argue a point. You didn’t like the CDC statistics, so you put together your own data set. Your main argument is that the risk of getting sick is small compared to other risks in life like riding in a car. The comparison is a bad one because, like you mention in your article, “99.97% of foodborne illnesses go unreported” so “the true prevalence of foodborne illness that can be attributed to a particular food is much higher than what is reported.” You can not talk about absolute risk with your data because the actual data is incredibly incomplete.

        The point Kristen raises is that these illnesses (e coli, etc.) can give a healthy adult an unpleasant experience like throwing up which would not be reported, but they can also leave an infant or small child with serious complications like organ failure. You haven’t provided any commentary on how the statistics are skewed to heavily affect the very young and very old. I think this is an important point that merits being in the discussion when one makes their own personal choice.

        • Chris Kresser says

          You can’t really make that assumption. Due to bias in reporting, as I said in the article, it’s likely that far more raw milk illness gets reported than illness caused by other foods.

          This is the first article in a 3-part series. I will be commenting on the increased risk for young and old in Part 3, where I discuss a framework for how someone might go about choosing whether to consume it or not.

          The data set I used is not “my own”. It’s the CDC’s own data, along with additional, peer-reviewed data to form a more complete picture. I made it clear why the CDC’s data were problematic, and why I made the choices I did. I was not “data mining”.

          The article does contain science, in the form of links to peer-reviewed articles published in scientific journals that were used in my research. There will be more of that in Part 2, as well, when I discuss the benefits of raw milk.

          • Joe says

            I am not making any assumptions. That 99.97% figure comes from your article and applies to all foodborne illnesses not just raw milk. I am just pointing out the flaw in your analysis. As you say, we should present the bare facts without bias so that people can make their own informed decisions. If you believe that there is bias in reporting the statistics, then all of the data should be thrown out. That is the scientific method.

            The main argument of your article is that the overall absolute risk is small compared to other activities. There is an error in your analysis because you only compared the reported illnesses from drinking raw milk which are 0.03% of the actual illnesses.

            Let’s look at the numbers and please let me know if you see an error in my analysis. It is more important to be accurate than it is to be right. We have 100 reported illnesses per year from raw milk. We need to take into account that 99.97% of foodborne illnesses go unreported in order to have a comparison against other activites like auto fatalities. So that means that we can calculate that there are 3,333 total illnesses per year from drinking raw milk (unreported and reported). Now consider that 9.4 million people consume raw milk.

            That means we have a ONE in 2820 chance of getting sick from drinking raw milk. This number should be compared against the ONE in 8000 chance of dying in a car accident, or ONE in 65000 chance of getting killed while crossing the street.

            Once again, I’m just showing the facts based on the statistics. You are more likely to get sick drinking raw milk than you are to be killed in a car accident.

            • Chris Kresser says

              I think you may have missed my point. You’re assuming that an equal percentage of illnesses from all foods get reported. But as I said in my criticism of the raw milk data, it’s likely that’s not the case. Consider two scenarios where someone becomes ill from eating a contaminated food:
              – they reflect on what they’ve eaten recently. Since they’ve only had foods they imagine to be safe like produce, nuts, etc., they assume it had nothing to do with food and was perhaps a stomach flu. This is a foodborne illness that will go unreported.
              – they reflect on what they’ve eaten recently, and it turns out they’ve had raw milk (or raw seafood, or chicken, or things that are considered to be risky). They suspect foodborne illness, and go to the doctor. It gets reported.

              The same phenomenon can happen in public health clinics where people are questioned about suspected foodborne illness.

              This means that the percentage of illness caused by raw milk that is reported is likely much higher than the percentage of illness caused by other foods. So you cannot extrapolate as you have, because that assumes that the percentage of reported and unreported illness caused by each class of food is the same.

              To simplify, say you have 100 reported illnesses and 900 unreported illnesses in a year for a total of 1,000 illnesses, with 10 reported raw milk illnesses. It’s tempting to say that there are really 100 raw milk illnesses each year (10% of reported > 10% of total). But say that 50% of raw milk illnesses are reported, whereas only about 10% of illnesses caused by other food are reported. That would mean there are only 20 raw milk illnesses out of the 1,000 – not 100 as the 10% estimate assumes.

              There is also the question of frequency of consumption to consider. As another commenter pointed out earlier, most people that drink milk drink it daily. Yet dairy products account for only 1.3% of reported illness. Fish consumption causes far more illnesses than dairy; yet few people consume it every day. Once or twice a week is probably a more reasonable estimate. If these risk numbers were adjusted for frequency of consumption, it’s likely that some foods like fish would be even riskier than they already are.

              • Joe says

                You are making hypothetical arguments rather than using the numbers that you provided. There is no evidence to support the claim that illnesses from raw milk are reported at a higher rate than other contaminated foods, only conjecture. In fact, since milk is a food that is consumed frequently for many people, this would not be a likely suspect, it would be the out-of-ordinary foods that they would consider to be the likely suspect. Logically, if you don’t ordinarily get sick, but then suddenly you become sick, you would first consider what was out of your normal routine to find a cause. Most people wouldn’t routinely eat shellfish, but they might routinely drink milk.

                You can do all sorts of hand-waving arguments, but the fact of the matter is that the high majority of foodborne illnesses go unreported. This is indisputable. This applies to raw milk as well since most raw-milk induced illnesses don’t end up in the hospital for adults. Usually it is a case of stomach flu-like symptoms. Because of this you cannot use comparisons like the numbers you are putting out. The best estimate of the ratio of unreported illnesses versus reported illnesses is 97.7%. You have to extrapolate like this to make these comparisons against absolute risk examples like auto fatalities. You have to compare apples to apples. Let’s leave out the bias and argue facts and numbers. You should say that you have a 1 in 94,000 chance per year of getting sick from raw milk AND reporting it AND attributing it to raw milk. Otherwise you should say that you have a 1 in 2820 chance per year of getting sick from consuming raw milk. This is according to the statistics you provided. If you consider the CDC statistics, the numbers are much higher.

                The frequency of consumption issue is another issue that isn’t supported by any data. We don’t know how much milk each person consumes. You could argue it both ways. Consider that you only add a little milk to your coffee every day, but you have a fish meal once per week. That’s pretty equivalent in terms of weight.

                The problem I have with this article is that you claim to be only presenting the facts, but your analysis is objectively biased.

            • Amanda says

              There is another area of bias in outbreak data — outbreaks need two or more people. Small operations are less likely to be involved in an outbreak because there are fewer people consuming the product. Raw milk operations tend to be small…

      • Glenn Atkisson says

        Forget the detractors like Kristen and Joe. I still accept Chris’ point that the absolute risk in consuming raw milk products is very low. I consumed raw milk for years in a family that never had any upset stomach symptoms, so none could be blamed on raw milk. It’s not just luck though. Whereas people may be able to consume puss-laden pasteurized milk their whole life and never show a sign of disease that can be traced to that milk, people can come down quickly with illness if they drink milk that is full of e-coli. So the solution, if you care about quality (and that’s the main reason for consuming raw milk these days), is to qualify your source, just as you would for organic veggies, free-range meat, etc. Most proponents of raw milk here are claiming they buy from a local source. It might behoove them to to visit the milk source just once and watch the operation, and question the dairyman. Get them talking about cleanliness, sanitation, refrigeration, containers. You might come away with enough information to decide whether you want their milk, or wish to look elsewhere. Or you might help educate them. But regardless, you will probably lessen your chance of coming down with a sickness from the milk you drink. Raw milk is not all the same, no more than organic produce is the same. The reason people are into alternatives is that they have an ability to discriminate. Keep those abilities sharpened! It’s what helps you guarantee quality. It’s not just a “USDA Organic” or “Unpasteurized Raw” label. Just by being discerning you will probably move yourself into the very safest category in terms of having a risk from the raw milk you drink. Don’t expect all dairies to be the same and contribute equally to the statistics. Foundation Farms is an exception. But it doesn’t mean that another farm can’t actually be worse next week. And it doesn’t mean that Foundation Farms hasn’t already cleaned up it’s process. As I stated when I first replied to this article, I really don’t consume raw milk, or hardly any dairy product. But I support people’s right to produce and consume raw dairy. If you believe in the healthy benefits of raw dairy products, it’s best to inspect the dairy you use, unless you have some individual-dairy statistics attesting to the safety of it’s product over time, especially if you have small children.

        • Joanna says

          With Foundation Farm, what do you think happened? They seemed to have been very, very careful with their raw milk. And yet, one child almost died of kidney failure and was on dialysis. Even if chances of getting organ failure are close to 0, if it happens to your child, it does not matter, it’s still 100% for you. I would like to know what happened in these cases where raw milk got someone sick. Could it be avoided 100%? With spinach etc, yes, it can be avoided 100%. E.Coli does not live in spinach, it comes from runoffs from animal farms, etc. How does E. Coli get into the milk in the first place?

        • Joe says

          Glenn, you can choose what you want to believe and that’s fine. But when you base your argument on statistics, as this article is based on, you have to look at the actual numbers to draw fair comparisons. We don’t have actual statistics for food-born illnesses, so comparing them to something like auto fatalities (which we do have actual statistics for) does not hold water.

          Let’s look at the numbers in a more fair way. All of these numbers are taken from the article.

          We have 100 reported illnesses per year from raw milk. We need to take into account that 99.97% of foodborne illnesses go unreported. So that means that we can estimate that there are 3,333 total illnesses per year from drinking raw milk (unreported and reported). Now consider that 9.4 million people consume raw milk.

          That means we have a ONE in 2820 chance of getting sick from drinking raw milk. This is a more fair comparison against the ONE in 8000 chance of dying in a car accident, or ONE in 65000 chance of getting killed while crossing the street.

        • Glenn Atkisson says

          I agree statistics can be distorted and misleading Joe. My input to which you are replying is directed at those who wish to consume raw milk. From all I’ve read about opinion and arguing with facts, people tend to keep believing what they originally believed. So I’m not trying to change minds as much as let people go on their way, happy with their way of life. For the raw-milk-believer, I’m saying “Look, you can fortify your safety if you do certain things.”
          Another thing that isn’t mentioned so far in this article is what happens in the home after the milk is brought in? But it could be substantially instrumental in producing the statistics that are showing even a small danger in raw milk. For instance, a bottle of milk left on the counter that is pasteurized has to start from almost zero to culture bacteria. A bottle of milk left on the counter (or table) that contains raw milk and some small amount of bacteria is more dangerous than the pasteurized counterpart (yikes, a play on words!). Kids are notorious at leaving things out. Parents that want to be responsible with the use of raw milk should be warned that the safety of the milk is more precarious. Who knows how many gallons of milk come from raw dairies with an entirely safe level of e-coli within, but are turned into dangerous foods by the families that don’t keep the milk refrigerated. Our stomachs are nothing but germ killers. They work fine. But any stomach can be overloaded chemically, especially when fats are combined with sugars, where the fats delay the acid-exposure, and the sugars feed the microbes. Kids are notorious for overindulging on sugars, not just as a dessert.
          I think people who eat raw (not just dairy) need to be aware of basic physiology, and basic food preparation — way more than people who eat purely factory food which is dead and bacteria never grow on the stuff.
          So I’m providing guidelines to those who aren’t going to change their habits just because Chris happens to get some (possibly) valid criticism. I’m trying to help them live better. It takes all sorts of information to make a balanced forum, where people can see all the reasoning out there and still make their choices. I know people tend to stay in the same rut because they already did a lot of research just to get there. I’m not trying to move them much, just help them be “rut-happy” if you will, and let them understand that not everyone is scared to hell of unpasteurized food, and there are safer ways to obtain and maintain it.

          • Joe says

            Glenn, I’m not saying that statistics can be distorted and misleading. I’m pointing out the fact that the risk comparison in this article is not accurate. Please go back and read what I wrote and let me know what you feel is misleading.

            The whole intent stated in the article is to present the unbiased facts so that educated choices can be made, and this portion of the article is heavy on statistics. I do think you have good advice and insight into choosing a raw milk supplier.

            • Glenn Atkisson says

              Thanks, Joe. I appreciate that you are pointing out that the risk comparison in this article is not accurate. I agree with you. I also agree with Chris that, due to a lot of negative press on raw milk, the 99.97% figure could be a bit high in the case of unreported raw milk sicknesses. And you don’t need to modify this figure much, (like just by -2.0 or -3.0 percent) and you suddenly have raw milk sickness again as less likely than dying in a car crash, a risk that probably 99.9% of all Americans is willing to take.
              But even if we take your figure of a 1 in 2820 chance of getting sick from raw milk in any given year, that amounts to about 1 sickness per person every 8 years. And that is considering that people stay ignorant of how to care for the milk once they have it in hand, and all dairy sanitary procedures stay as they have in the past, in spite of the added pressure from the government.
              I really believe, considering how we’ve seen that government agencies work hand in hand with big Ag and big Pharma to promote their agendas, that there is a good chance that there has been distortion of the statistics that Chris says he gets straight from the CDC. If you read again Chris’s list of “several problems with the CDC report” and allow for the points he makes, you can easily see that the water surrounding the CDC statistics is very muddy. There are so many cases where a CDC employee, building a CDC statistic from one outbreak, could say the responsible food is “unknown” (the usual case) and not press to investigate further, but the same person, when investigating another outbreak, where a lead question might be “do you consume raw milk in your family”, and getting a positive answer, might have a very high chance of attributing the sickness to the raw milk, even if it may have had a different origin. Admittedly this is conjecture. But what is not conjecture is that we are dealing with the statistics of a biased government here, whose agencies are abetting large corporations. Why should these statistics be any more accurate in their recording than those already proven to have biased FDA drug approval decisions, which statistics are later found to have been intentionally distorted by the drug companies who’s drug was approved?
              I see that Chris is trying to make his case IN SPITE of taking the statistics right out of the dragon’s mouth, and then he makes some qualifications to show how PROBABLY the statistics are even more favorable toward raw milk than the actual numbers. As someone who is sick of how our government cheats people to serve industry, I can easily be swayed by his statements of probability. And I think those statements are an important and relevant part of his point of view.
              On the other hand, you are trying to make a point by looking just at the statistics, and the chance of distortion from “actual” to “reported” cases. You are granting no leeway to any of Chris’s comments about distortion in the other direction in order to make your point. I understand you are adamant on this little issue of relative risks, but if we give you a “win” on this issue, what is your feeling about advising people to drink, or not, raw milk?
              What is it, once you’ve made your point that “one is more likely to be sick from raw milk than to die in a car accident”, that you would like us to decide?
              Early in this discussion you stated: “You have to pasteurize industrial milk because the risk of contamination is so high. You couldn’t industrially produce raw milk, that is when you would have high increase of illnesses.” So we see that the big milk industry can’t compete for this special product called raw milk. Only the small dairy can take the precautions to deliver it to the public. And the dairy industry wants to shut down the raw dairies. And the people WANT raw milk. For an issue to persist even though there is strong resistance, there must be a VALUE in raw milk. Value well worth paying extra for, and risking occasional upset stomach’s to obtain. This article doesn’t even touch on the value question. But the value is there, and is regarded highly, or there would be no dispute.
              So on the subject of “Raw milk reality: Is raw milk dangerous?” what is you point of view? Are you saying “yes” or “no”? What do you wish people to conclude from this article? You say at one point “The fact remains that there is no way to get rid of these harmful pathogens other than pasteurization. As others have mentioned, these pathogens are nasty and can lead to organ failure, especially in children.” That statement seems to be an attempt to bias this audience, and technically, is inaccurate.
              The pathogens you speak of are only “nasty”, or a risk, when in great numbers. As Gregory Barton mentions in his post today, milk, as well as many other foods (and your municipal water supply), go out on sale even when testing shows there is an acceptable level of pathogens present. Acceptable means that the pathogens will not cause harm because the human stomach can handle a certain number of them. That is what the “expiration date” on products help insure though: that the pathogens don’t multiply to an unmanageable number before you ingest the product. If you just start looking at expiration dates you will realize it takes quite some time before pathogens can multiply to a dangerous level. The more likely to be contaminated foods are the ones that are in the refrigerated sections of stores. But they still comply to standards and have expiration dates. This is how our whole food/water/drug system works. And people rarely get sick from ingesting foods from our system. Children eat dirt all the time and usually only benefit from the additional flora ingested. Pathogens are only “nasty” when a food is LOADED with them, either from a gross contamination during processing, or from sitting around too long. Pasteurization is a great thing to rid a food of pathogens down to near zero. But it also harms the nutrition of the food. People want to receive the vitamins and enzymes and microbiotic life that foods originated with. So lets remember that an article on “dangers” is, at best, only half the story. People here need to keep thinking that if there are dangers, regardless how miniscule, are there also benefits that may offset the dangers, and may they FAR offset the dangers. This article is only on the dangers of raw milk. It is not trying to be the whole story.

            • Glenn Atkisson says

              Joe, Woopsie, I divided that 2820 for some reason by 365! My bad. Meant to divide by 2 to show the average chance one has of being sickened from raw milk. On average, a person will need to consume raw milk for 1,410 years before they are sickened by a dose of it. A few people will be sickened the first year, for sure, and some may live 2820 years, but on average they will get through at least, well, SEVERAL LIFETIMES without being sick. You made your point, but if you look at it this way, the risk is still a non-issue.

              • Joe says

                You make some great points, Glenn. We live in the real world and I agree that our government is anything but trustworthy. I don’t trust the statistics any more than you or anyone else here, but they are the only numbers that we have to go by. I’m a scientist and one of the things that I was taught is that if you have a potential bias in your data, you have to throw out the whole thing. You can’t pick and choose data or throw out certain data points or else your work is not objective and is actually harmful to the community. The argument that raw milk numbers are skewed in the data is not something that we can use to modify the data. If we truly believe that, then you have to discount all of the data and we are left with a religious debate (no empirical data).

                I’m not trying to cause a stink here to promote pasteurization, rather I see a case of misused statistics and I feel obligated to point out the unfair comparison especially since Chris has been adament about presenting the facts in an unbiased fasion. Basically, his numbers are way off and therefore his analysis that uses these numbers for support is way over the top. You’re still more likely to not get sick by a wide margin, but let’s use the correct numbers.

                If you’re asking about my personal viewpoint, I personally would be comfortable drinking raw milk, but I would not be comfortable giving it to my children. Even if the nutrients are twice as dense, the risk is simply not worth it to me because of the chance of kidney failure. This is part of the story that these statistics don’t show. The likelihood of children getting sick is much higher than the likelihood of adults getting sick and these risk numbers don’t make the distinction between adult or child.

                In regards to the level of pathogens and thresholds for food safety, yes it’s proven that trace amounts of pathogens are normally present in our food and are no problem at all. It’s only when our immune systems get overwhelmed by the pathogens that we get outwardly sick. The point about pasteurization that I was trying to say is that it is the only method that we have for reducing the number of pathogens. Raw milk is inherently safe. It’s only when enough external pathogens contaminate the milk that we might have a problem. Most adults can deal with these pathogens with a bout of diarrhea or throwing up. However, infants and children and those with compromised immune systems have a much harder time dealing with these pathogens. They can get so sick that their kidneys shut down. These children would be dead if not for modern acute care like dialysis and transplants.

                • Glenn Atkisson says

                  Thanks for the clarification Joe. I’m at peace with what might have been a difference. You are right that a scientist must throw out the conclusion this article takes from the statistics cited. It’s a lot of detail, but the margin of error makes the statistics not reliable for comparison with other causes of sickness or death that have a far lower margin of error. What I think remains that is significant is that the chance of any one person getting sick from raw milk is still almost as unlikely as dying in an automobile accident (won’t happen in this or our next lifetime!), and that is a risk we all (virtually) are willing to take. And the actual likelihood may be debatable, but even your best adjusted, devil’s advocate “guess”, based on unreliable statistics adjusted for unreported cases of 97.7% is still turning out to be something that people seem ready to face. So as far as the “spirit” of Chris’s presentation goes, I see his point of view as upheld. He may have merely chosen a poor example for one comparison.
                  I appreciate hearing your personal feelings on raw milk consumption.
                  Your last statements about the risk to children is well made. I happened to have fed my kids raw milk with no adverse reactions, and in fact with no knowledge of the risks. Some of this “faith” comes from my being raised by parents who were both raised on raw milk and I never heard a tale of milk-borne pathogens. That milk was home grown, probably chilled only by an ice box, if that, and probably also fed to the churn, the cats and the pigs after sitting around for more than a day! Then there was heavy use of buttermilk too, which I’m assuming is a cure for some of the potential harm within the milk, just as probiotic inoculants are a cure to poor cultures in our gut. Buttermilk is not part of our current “culture”.
                  This whole little subject of protecting the children brings to my mind the idea that if parents want to be extra safe with raw milk, they could take in a new supply before the old supply is exhausted, feed the kids on the remainder of the old milk, and test the new milk on themselves. If they don’t have an upset stomach by the next day, let the kids consume the new milk. Not much extra effort here, but this alone might take care of the chance of childhood kidney failure, etc. Still, I think the most important advice I could give parents feeding children raw milk is:
                  “Don’t keep using the milk if anyone left it out of refrigeration for more than a half hour. It wasn’t microbe free when it was delivered as pasteurized milk will be, so you are contributing to the risk by using it after it’s warmed. Don’t trust your kids to handle it. They may forget to return it to the cold.”

                • Chris Kresser says

                  I’m not trying to cause a stink here to promote pasteurization, rather I see a case of misused statistics and I feel obligated to point out the unfair comparison especially since Chris has been adament about presenting the facts in an unbiased fasion. Basically, his numbers are way off and therefore his analysis that uses these numbers for support is way over the top. You’re still more likely to not get sick by a wide margin, but let’s use the correct numbers.

                  So far, you have raised one issue with my numbers, which I have addressed (as has Glenn). That does not change the basic thrust of this article. Furthermore, even if the risk of getting ill from drinking raw milk were 1 in 2,800, which I don’t accept for the reasons I mentioned, that is less than 3 times more than the risk of dying in a car crash. Those illnesses may include things as mild as an upset stomach and a little diarrhea. The risk of becoming hospitalized with a serious disease is still orders of magnitude lower than the risk of dying in a car crash. Do you dispute that?

                  You are discounting the idea that raw milk numbers are skewed, yet accepting as fact the estimate for total foodborne illnesses each year – which is just a guess not based on any culture-confirmation or other empirical data. That’s a double standard.

                  If you want to stick with only empirical data, then we should be discussing safety numbers based on reported illnesses adjusted for consumption. That’s what this article does.

  115. says

    Finally! The article I’ve wanted to write, it I only had unlimited time. Now I don’t have to because he explains it all. I am going to be linking this all over the place! Thank you.

  116. wito says

    The following statement is not true, and you know why it is not, Chris:

    “According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, you have a roughly 1 in 8,000 chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident if you live in the U.S.. This means you are about 12 times more likely to die in a car crash on your way to pick up your raw milk than you are to get sick from drinking it.”

    I really like your blog for great data and info, but please don’t use similar tricks like they use in studies you criticize.

    • Chris Kresser says

      If you’re going to essentially accuse me of lying, you should have some data to support your critique. According to this table on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website, the risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 7,700 for the general population. So, please tell me how my statement is untrue. Comparing risk is always imperfect, because such comparison’s don’t take things like frequency of activity into account. Someone who drives 100 miles a day has a much higher risk of dying in a car accident than someone who drives 10 miles a week. Likewise, someone who drinks raw milk every day has a higher chance of getting sick than someone that drinks it once a month. But these estimates for risk are what are used in the scientific literature and in the CDC and FDA reports, as well as in the critiques of raw milk by attorneys like Marler. I don’t see why they aren’t appropriate to use here as long as they’re based on accurate data.

  117. SC says

    Chris, will you be addressing the A1/A2 beta casein issues in your next artilcles. My understanding is that raw milk or slow vat pasteruized milk for health reasons should come from A2 cows, as opposed to A1 cows.

  118. Richard says

    Ladies and gentlemen – a little perspective here, and perhaps a little history. Louis Pasteur born 1822, died 1895 invented the pasteurization process. Do you REALLY think that for the thousands of years prior to his little miracle discovery that people were dying in droves, by the hundreds and thousands around the globe from drinking unpasteurized milk? Oh, yes, and what about all the families that were raised on farms between Pasteur’s discovery and the regulations which were passed banning the sale of unpasteurized milk? Were those families decimated, destroyed, annihilated by the consumption of a little bacteria in raw milk?
    Indeed, Pasteur’s discovery has probably led to more disease than it has cured. We have become a virtually sterilized society where we use hand sanitizer every time we open or close a door, we carry it in our pockets and purses. We do not wish to attract germs. Does anyone know how vaccinations work – they give you a miniscule amount of the disease you wish to avoid so your internal immune system can combat and destroy it an prepare itself for the real onslaught. We are so sterilized with all our drugs and cleansers that our bodies can’t build up immunities and THAT is why we are sick! THAT is where the superbugs are coming from!

  119. says

    Also interesting, if I did my math correctly, based on your data driving in a car is about 8x more dangerous than being a pedestrian, both of which are fairly dangerous if you ask me. If people don’t want to risk giving raw milk to their children, why risk putting them in a car? Just a thought.

  120. says

    Thank you for doing this analysis. Best article I’ve read on this topic yet. I’m actually shocked at what the risk of dying in an auto accident is. Yikes! It’s nice to know that my risk of getting sick from raw milk is much, much less. I had kidney failure from E. coli when I was a kid (had a remarkable recovery, fortunately). It would suck big time if lightening were to strike me twice, but these statistic do put me at ease. My raw milk farmer has a stringent protocol for milk safety, which should reduce my risk even further.

    Thanks again. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and I’ll definitely be linking up to them on my blog.

  121. says

    Great article, and thanks for taking the time to do all the research in a meaningful way!

    I do have one question on the numbers. It seems to me that there is another level here that is not included, being the frequency of consumption. People drinking raw milk would normally (
    I assume) drink that milk on a daily basis, batch after batch. Very few other food sources are consumed as frequently. For instance, who eats raw oysters every day? So isnt there another level of analysis that explore per batch of food, how the risk compares? If a person drinks raw milk 365 days a year and consumes raw oysters 4 times a year, and the risk of getting sick from oysters is still significantly higher, doesn’t adjusting for that make oysters tremendously higher still? What if a person only drinks raw milk at the same frequency as eating raw oysters, what happens to the numbers then?

    thanks!

  122. says

    I’ve had several people commenting on my Facebook page over the last year or so about how people didn’t used to refrigerate milk, and therefore the refrigeration of the milk causes the lactic acid bacteria replication to slow down, and that it can’t “out-compete other cold-insensitive bacteria, including potentially pathogenic organisms.” Here’s the link to Todd Caldecott’s post on The Bovine, with links to studies showing this outcome:

    http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/breast-feeding-ayurveda-and-the-first-principles-of-raw-milk-nutrition/

    Very few people I’ve talked to agree with this, and I’m on the fence. But I can’t help to agree that people didn’t refrigerate milk until the modern era, that they did consume it warm, and that they typically fermented it to keep it from souring and used it in that form a great deal.

    • says

      I think about that, too. How the E. coli could be growing faster in the fridge than the beneficial bacteria. Culturing my milk into yogurt makes me feel better about it.

    • Lynn says

      I’m waiting for more info on yesterday’s recall before I pass any judgement. In Nov. 2011, Organic Pasture Dairy products were recalled (for one month with hundreds of thousands of dollars lost in sales) the State found no E. coli anywhere on their farm or in their dairy products, even samples tested in the houses where people got sick. CEO Mark McAfee is an expert in food safety and certified in HAACP management. After the recall was lifted last December, Mark said, ” “It is hard to improve on perfect … zero pathogens ever found in 10 years of testing.” I am wondering how over a four month period campylobacter could have escaped undetected in what were probably hundreds, maybe thousands, of tests? Let’s wait and see….. As Chris says, it can happen.

      • says

        Here is a link to the CDFA report about the Organic Pastures recall and outbreak in November 2012:
        “Environmental samples collected at Organic Pastures yielded E. coli 0157:H7 isolates that had PFGE patterns indistinguishable from the patient isolates. Organic Pastures raw milk consumed by the case-patients was likely contaminated with this strain of E. coli 0157:H7, resulting in their illnesses.”
        http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/final-report—organic-pastures-raw-milk-linked-to-2001-e-coli-outbreak/

        • Lynn says

          Thanks for the link. I always want to learn more and better understand the complexities of this issue. I am, perhaps obviously, a layperson and not a scientist. I now understand there’s not often a “smoking gun” but rather enough epidemiological evidence of a food causing an illness that experts agree it “likely” to be the cause. I still would want to read this from other than Marler or CDFA, hear another opinion. Which brings up the question: Why only these 5 children, and not hundreds, or even thousands, sickened? I ate salmon ceviche with a couple last summer and experienced mild nausea for about 15 minutes. They both got very ill and could not go to their jobs for days. The bacteria (Pasteur) or the terrain (Beauchamp)? Could it be there are foods in the grocery store that might contain these “isolates” and if they weren’t ingested by kids who drank raw milk, they never would have become a “cluster” and their E. coli story never would have made the news? I am curious, but it might be more science than I can comprehend….

        • Charlene says

          What were the “environmental samples” tested? Was it soil? Manure? Swabs from equipment? The article does not indicate that it was *FOOD*samples – an important distinction. To prove positively that it was raw milk which caused illness, it is necessary to test unopened packages of food from the same batch consumed by the people who got sick. Contaminated food can make people sick; but sick people can contaminate food as well – which is why it is important to find unopened food from the same suspected batch.

          As far as the environmental samples showing identical genetic patterns with patient isolates: did the lab run positive controls? Did they take samples from people who consumed the food but did not get sick – of which there were thousands, it seems. Perhaps anyone – even healthy people – eating food from the farm would produce matching isolates. Doesn’t *prove* the raw milk made some ill.

    • Heather says

      …and that particular outbreak was eventually found to have been cause by another food entirely NOT Organic Pastures’ milk. But, of course, that was after OP’s milk was on recall for weeks, they lost a ton of income, and had their name and product dragged through the mud.

      • Kristen P says

        Heather,
        Which outbreak at OPDC are you referring too? There have been several and none of them have been linked to another food. Please site your source of information. The CDFA has all of the reports on its website and you can look at realrawmilkfacts.com for their table covering all raw milk outbreaks since 1998 I believe. If you are referring to the latest ecoli outbreak in fall of 2011 at OPDC, I linked to the CDFA report above.

      • Mary McGonigle-Martin says

        Heather,
        I can’t tell you how tired I am of the BS that surrounds the OPDC raw milk outbreaks. The one in 2006 was not caused by another food. People believe this because that is what Mark McAfee told people. News flash—he lied. Then Sally Fallon spread the lie. In the 2006 outbreak 6 children became ill and they lived sprinkled throughout California. The only the common food they consumed was OPDC products. They searched the cows and soil 2 months after the fact and did not find the matching pathogen

        In 2011, the outbreak was a ditto to the 2006 outbreak—6 children sprinkled throughout California. This time they searched the farm immediately and found the matching pathogen in the poop where the calves were housed. It is speculated that the pathogen was dragged into the milk room from dirty shoes.

  123. April says

    Well written, but you have not changed my thought about pasturized vs. raw. I do agree that organic is better but I will never drink raw or serve it to my family.

    • Chris Kresser says

      As I said several times in the article, my intention wasn’t to change anyone’s mind. My intention was to present the fact in an unbiased way so people have the information they need to make up their own minds.

  124. JMH says

    Chris, are you going to talk about the history of pasteurization? Maybe because I’m Canadian, but I’m a little protective of pasteurization, in the way one is protective of one’s old gently misogynistic grampa
    .
    Pasteurization is a thing which makes sense, and for once isn’t coming from a malicious place. It makes sense in the way that Jewish prohibitions about eating cloven-footed things and shellfish make sense. Back in a more primitive time (in terms of technology) it was harder to keep things safe. Back when factory farming was a tiny baby, and they started doing things like shipping food across the state, people *were* getting really sick and dying. Why? Because raw milk can go bad if it’s left just sitting around for a week. But we have refrigerators now. And you’re likely getting your milk from somewhere an hour or so away, not three days away in the summer heat. So it’s not the same kind of risk. It’s not the same kind of choice between dead milk or spoilt milk.

    (This kinda reminds me when I first started buying better quality meat and it kept rotting in the fridge. I didn’t realize how much I depended and meal planned based of preservative content in my dead meat, until I started having to throw out whole chickens that went green on me. You handle raw milk differently than pasteurized milk. Not even more carefully exactly, but it is alive and that’ll catch you up to begin with.)

    But it helps to be able to see it from their point of view. The last time raw milk was common, a lot of people died. Why risk it? When you can show people what’s different and answer their fears, instead of just calling them stupid (I’m not saying you are, Chris. I <3 you, totes.), you can convince more people.

    Plus, Pasteur was a ruddy genius. He didn't invent germ theory, but he basically beat it into people's heads. He proved and explained the science of fermentation, so we can all explain why sauerkraut is bubbly.
    Iunno, like the vaccine debate, I just get really tired when conversations split into two factions. We can both be right and both be missing something.

    • Lynn says

      I must disagree. My understanding is that clean, raw milk does not “go bad”, it simply starts to sour or “clabber” and many primitives without refrigeration drank this type of milk rather than the sweet or fresh milk we have become accustomed to. I also understand that most of the world that drinks untreated milk either ferments it purposefully with a culture or allows it to sour on its own from the bacteria present in the milk. Pasteurization became a necessity in the early 1900’s because of the “swill” or “distillery” dairies that fed their herds spent grains and mash from liquor production. That dangerous milk was a pale blue, and calcium carbonate (chalk) was added to make it white. These cows were sick, and so would you be drinking that milk without treatment to kill the pathogens. Not only that, they were hand milked over open buckets and not by family members careful not to cough over them! Everyone must understand that from a pasture-based operation with a properly managed healthy herd and good sanitation in the milking parlor (esp. with refrigerated bulk tanks and stainless tubing), raw milk is perfectly safe. This describes the dairy in Oregon where I get my raw milk via a herd share. It is tragic what happened at Foundation Farm, and I am curious to know their mistake with the E. coli contamination. No news since the April outbreak. Please do not think that modern day factory-farmed CAFO dairy cows eating citrus peel cake, bakery waste, gum IN the wrappers, and GMO grains doused with broad-spectrum sub-therapeutic antibiotics will give us a safe beverage to drink right from the udder! It is interesting to note that industrial agriculture seems to have a very short memory. Once again conventional dairies are feeding their herds “spent” grain waste in the form of corn leftover from ethanol production. How did we forget? Cattle = ruminants = herbivores = grasses, forbes, legumes… Milk to be consumed raw must be produced under a different set of rules!

      • says

        Lynn, you make great points here. I don’t know what it takes for clean raw milk to go bad, if it ever does. I’m sure at some point you wouldn’t want to eat it, lol.

        I’m keenly interested in the history of pasteurization but I don’t know much yet. Where did you get your information?

        I often think about primitive people consuming raw milk. I’m sure they would have stopped consuming it if people were getting sick. They were pretty smart like that. And yet, milk-consumption survived, so they must have done well on it. But the time before pasteurization was a time when people liked to mess with what was natural, as you mentioned the type of feed they were given on distillery farms. Obviously, this causes problems. I don’t think milk is inherently dangerous–I think people make it dangerous.

        • Lynn says

          I learned a lot of the history from, “The Untold Story of Milk” by Ron Schmid, ND. I have also asked myself this question: if raw dairy was inherently dangerous, why did mankind continue to drink it? It is not without considerable effort tending cattle, goats, sheep, camels, water buffalo…

          • says

            Exactly! And funny–last night after I asked you about your info, I was searching my library catalog for a book about pasteurization, and that one came up, so I put it on hold. I’m so excited to read it!

      • Thrisa says

        This is so true! I actually learned about the disgusting blue milk in history a couple quarters back. Of course, they didn’t talk about raw milk vs pasteurized. They just briefly described how industrialization affected the milk production and how, at that time, they began pasteurizing the milk and adding chalk. I was amazed. The answer was right there in front of my eyes and at that moment, I knew that the information regurgitated to us about the “importance” in pasteurized milk was highly exaggerated and we were being ill advised.

  125. Joanna says

    Hi Chris,

    I really wanted to get into raw milk, but just when I moved to Oregon where it’s legal, a small farm that sold raw milk and did everything so well (or so they thought) got an e coli contamination and one of their kids is in the hospital with kidney failure and on dialysis. That totally cured me of wanting to drink raw milk or feed it to my son. I think that the risk of dying is super low, but there are other things than death than make it a not-so-good option. I’m super bummed about it. Do you know if there’s any way to kill e coli and salmonella without heat? I heard that freezing for 2 weeks kills pathogens, but some research didn’t convince me it kills e coli. What do you think?

    Thanks!
    Joanna.

    • Chris Kresser says

      If you’re concerned finding a vat pasteurized (lower-temp) alternative from grass-fed cows might be a good idea. Down here in the Bay Area St. Benoit produces a milk like that – we use it to make yogurt with.

  126. Tonya says

    Thanks for doing some research and de bunking some myths.
    We took the plunge last September and have only used raw milk since then. I had surgery in August to remove and diagnose ( I knew ) severe endometriosis. My gut was severely eaten up with lesions as well as my bladder. So, I did not tolerate any dairy products until I became so laden with gut pain that I drug out my copy of Nourishing Traditions and went on a rampage : Fermenting all kinds of food. My gut quit hurting and I got so much better, that I can enjoy cold raw milk now on occasion. We make butter every week from the thick, rich cream. ( There have been a few times we tossed the milk or just cooked with it when the cow ate some onions :( but we get it from a family not a big farm, and they are very clean, and use sterilized jars. Keeping it cold all the way home is important as well.

  127. Joe says

    Its funny how the position of the US government, the industrialized diary industry, and many brainwashed Americans is that Raw Milk will kill you or at least make you so sick that your organs will fail. In other countries Raw Milk is perfectly ok to consume, you can even buy it out of vending machines in France!

  128. says

    Nice job Chris. I also thought the CDC report on raw milk illness was fishy. At the same time, I’m fairly convinced that raw milk is more likely to make you sick than pasteurized milk, which your analysis confirmed. I don’t know why this issue gets so politicized and distorted.

  129. says

    I eat a fair amount of local queso fresco where I live in Mexico. My image of “bathtub cheese” (a term I’ve never heard before – yuk) will probably keep me from eating it now more than the fear of getting sick from it. Bummer, I used to love that stuff.

  130. Cat says

    I have heard that there is beneficial bacteria in raw milk which is killed off during the pasteurization process. I’m not very learned in the field of bacteria and the roles that good and bad might play in all this, but would it be plausible to suggest that since there is beneficial bac., couldn’t it over-crowd or even consume any bad bacteria that might contaminate the milk? Whereas with sterilized milk, bad bacteria could get in it and grow unhindered by anything?

    Maybe it’s a fallacy to suppose that good bacteria could act like an “independent immune system” for the milk, but I have heard (and seen for myself) that in the case of ourselves, good bacteria on the skin lends a measure of protection – like a barrier, against bad bacteria infiltration. Could the same be said of raw milk, which has live beneficial bacteria and enzymes in it too?

    So basically what I’m wondering is, could the good bacteria/enzymes in raw milk do either or both of the following: Prevent dangerous bacteria from thriving. Kill dangerous bacteria somehow?

    • Mario Vachon says

      9.4 times next to nothing is still next to nothing. Chris, you can lead them to water, but you can’t make them drink. Jesus some people.

      • Jesse says

        If I have a choice between two products, one of which is maybe 10 times more likely to make me sick, I’m going to choose the one that is less likely to make me sick, if all else is the same. That seems like the obvious thing to do.

        Now presumably Chris is going to say that all else is not the same, but we’ll have to wait for his next article to see why, so I’m sticking with my summary so far.

        • gregory barton says

          Ten times negligible is still negligible. The point about a risk being negligible is that you can take it out of the equation when balancing costs and benefits.

  131. daniel a says

    Thoughtful research Chris, well done. I like your specific answer to homestead and suggest they try less appeal to authority and generalizations. Are you a fan of tragedy and hope, Andrew Grove, Jan, Brett and the gang? I imagine you’ll be approached about a show if you haven’t already.
    Thanks again

  132. says

    Great article Chris, your thorough attention to detail in the analysis of these things is always appreciated.

    On a slight tangent from this subject, I have used kefir applied topically to clear up tinea, in myself and others and it works more effectively than anything I’ve ever come across, including some of the very potent OTC pharmaceutical creams/sprays, tea tree oil and lemon myrtle oil.

    • Paul N says

      Many years ago, i was prescribed a to[ical cream called Calmurid for dry, cracked skin on my heels. The active ingredient was lactic acid – the exact stuff produced by kefir and other lactobacilli- though I did not know that at the time.
      Amongst all the information you could ever want about kefir on Dom’s Kefir Insite, he recommends it for skin conditions, and I put 2+2 together.
      Quite likely the ancient luxury of a “milk bath” was a kefir/fermented milk one also.
      Kefir is amazing stuff.

      You can also get kefir cheese, made in NY state, from raw milk, of course (and aged 60 days as per USDA rules) at kefircheese.com. Interesting story there about getting a gov grant to start the process and how they almost lost it because they were using raw milk. The grant was approved but their project was the only one NOT made public.

      As Kris says, if you were a cynic you might think that was more than just some clerical omission…

  133. Joe says

    Hi Chris,
    All you’ve shown is that with your modified data, people who drink raw milk are one order of magnitude more likely to get sick instead of two orders of magnitude with the CDC data.

    The fact remains that there is no way to get rid of these harmful pathogens other than pasteurization. As others have mentioned, these pathogens are nasty and can lead to organ failure, especially in children.

  134. says

    From talking to a friend of mine who worked at raw milk dairies for years, the diet of the cattle is very important to the safety of the milk. He advised me to only ever consume raw dairy products from 100% grass-fed dairies, and to avoid those who even use grain just to get the cattle in the barn. (Grain-feeding leads to a more acid environment in the cow’s digestive system, which encourages more acid-resistant bacteria who can more easily survive our very acid stomachs to make us sick.)

  135. Evan says

    Thanks Chris!

    As you deal with a lot of chronically ill patients, how much greater do you think the risk of consuming raw milk is for these people? Do you recommend avoiding raw dairy to these people?

  136. David says

    Nearly finished 5 weeks on raw milk only. Here in Australia it can be bought as organic bath milk.
    Feel great, don’t want to go back to solid food’s as this is just so convenient.
    Many cravings have gone, and I no longer desire coffee.
    I am doing it because of an articel by Dr J E Crewe from the 1920’s about the milk cure used at the Mayo Foundation, now the Mayo Clinic. Specifically to reduce the size of my enlarged prostate. Unbelievably this is exactly what it has done !! Very hard to believe something so simple will do what my urologist says can only be rectified by surgery…………….. but that is what has happened…….

    • Diana says

      David, that’s amazing!

      I’m not surprised, though. The medical profession doesn’t want anyone to stop using its products and procedures.

    • Natalie says

      Hi David, thats amazing! and sorry to butt in here…I am also from Australia and was wondering where you purchase your raw milk from?

      • jackie says

        Natalie, I’m also in Australia. Many health/natural foods shops sell ‘bath milk’ (aka raw milk), and it also can be found at many farmer’s markets.

  137. Liat says

    While I am also in the camp of allowing people to do what they want to without their own bodies, I believe in the phrase “don’t poop where you eat.” Cows defecate, and they carry all kinds of pathogens in their feces. A producer may do their absolute best to prevent the cow from contaminating their milk, but once they contaminate, then the person who drinks the feces contaminated milk can have the option of dying or suffering from lifelong renal failure. Maybe you can address this in another post.

    I find the logic of this post to something like swine flu hasn’t killed millions of Americans so we should import H1N1 pigs. Increasing the number of raw milk producers may increase the number of E Coli infected strains of milk..

    • Chris Kresser says

      You seem to have missed the point of this post. Cows defecate wherever they are. Water contaminated by cow poop then runs off into nearby spinach crops, which people eat and get e.coli from. This happened in California recently. Should we stop eating spinach?

      It’s possible to use proper sanitation methods and produce raw milk with less risk of illness than other more common food commodities. And in fact, the statistics I outlined in this article suggest that is what’s happening in most cases.

    • Angel says

      Cows don’t *eat* their own feces. They also avoid grazing where they or other cows or animals have defecated, which is why grazed pastures look lumpy (not mowed) – grazing animals naturally avoid eating grass around piles of poop.

      Staying healthy isn’t about absolutely avoiding certain pathogens anyway, it’s about managing risk *when* exposed, because pathogens of some sort are always present. Healthy cows on properly managed pasture have very little routine exposure to pathogens – enough to develop immunity, but not enough to get sick. Their immunity shields consumers of their milk.

      • SSC says

        I agree with Angel. There are many dairy producers in my family, and every good farmer knows that pasture rotation is of the utmost importance. A responsible dairyman will rotate his herd to new pasture every single day, which is pretty easy these days thanks to the invention of portable electric fencing. The best way to determine if your raw milk is safe is to know your farmer and be familiar with good farming practices, so that you can ask the right questions.
        My grandfather sold raw milk for decades all around his county, and never ever had any problems.

    • Joe says

      Yeah “don’t poop where you eat.” How about this one: “don’t milk your cow where it poops?” Do you have any idea how cows are milked in a traditional small farm? They are taken to a milking shed that is cleaned after each milking and are milked.

      You have to pasteurize industrial milk because the risk of contamination is so high. You couldn’t industrially produce raw milk, that is when you would have high increase of illnesses.

      • Liat says

        I was kind of getting to that point. But after doing some extensive reading, I have also concluded that udders can be infected too. E. Coli is transmitted by feces, but campylobacter can come from the udder of a clean cow. Also, a small amount of bacteria is enough to get people sick so assaying bacteria does not necessarily eliminate the possibility. In the end, it all comes down to risk assessment and I don’t mean to make anyone paranoid about raw milk, but pasteurization is not altogether evil either. I do not see a huge risk to getting raw milk from a small farm, and I am certainly less inclined to eat raw oysters in months that don’t end in -er, but at the same time, I buy most of my dairy at the store using light pasteurization with culturing because I do not see an overwhelming benefit from store bought raw milk.

        • Joe says

          Oh yeah, I would never buy raw milk from a store. I go straight to the farm and buy it about 20 mins after it came out of the cow. Plus, I trust the farmer because I drink the same milk that he, his wife, and all of his 9 kids drink. And $3.00 a gallon isn’t a bad selling point either!

          • Diana says

            Yes, we also get our raw milk from a local dairy farmer, and the whole family — mom, dad, nine kids — all drink it themselves.

            Most of the complaints about “raw milk” that people are making here, are regarding factory-farm milk that is on its way to the pasteurization facility. In other words, it was never meant to be consumed without pasteurization. That affects everything about it, and how it’s handled, etc.

            I’m 64 years old. I started buying raw milk four years ago, when I was 60. I’d never tasted it before. My dad was a milkman, and a shop steward for the Teamsters. Some old folks used to tell him how much they missed the taste of milk the way it used to be, before pasteurization. He would always dismiss their claims, and say it was dangerous. He told me these people didn’t make sense.

    • Heather says

      What part of the chicken do you think the egg emerges from? I’ve kept chickens and it’s sure not their wingtips. And chickens are much dirtier critters than dairy cows (I lived on a dairy farm as a kid, before modern factory dairies)

  138. says

    I scuba dive, climb mountains, and mountain bike but I have never seen my mother the microbiologist more animated than when I told her I was eating cheese made from raw milk. For about 15 minutes she railed about the dangers. I don’t remember her arguments. I had recently gotten a case of food poisoning from raw vegetables…I think. It’s hard to trace down causes. It all depends on the bacteria what the gestation period is before getting symptoms. Anyway I threw out the cheese. Obviously I am not going to tell anybody not to drink raw dairy products.

    When switching to grass fed beef, free range chicken, and wild fish we tend to improve our chances of not getting a food born illness. Interestingly switching from pasteurized dairy to raw dairy increases our chances. When it comes to improving our food system raw dairy is not where I am going to make a stand.

  139. says

    I appreciate what you are trying to do here, I really do.
    I’m glad you don’t go so far as Sally Fallon to say raw milk kills pathogens or that babies should drink raw milk formula…
    Congratulations on coming out of the raw milk closet!

    • Lynn says

      I understand that raw milk can indeed kill pathogens. I have heard of experiments where good-quality raw milk has been inoculated with known pathogens, allowed to sit, then retested and none of the pathogens remain.

      • says

        Lynn,

        There has been considerable discussion on this topic within the raw milk community, but as Chris is the myth buster here I am sure he can talk about it in greater detail…Chris?

    • Angel says

      My former sister-in-law had a baby boy a couple of years ago, and even though she **lived and worked on a farm that produces high-quality raw milk from pasture-fed Jersey cows, which she and her whole family drink daily** she was feeding him store-bought formula. He kept vomiting it up, though, and finally she switched to feeding him raw milk … and he stopped vomiting. He’s a thriving, beautiful boy.

      Maybe babies spit up so much because they are being fed bad food. It’s probably not a “natural” habitual behavior.

      I’ve been drinking raw milk from that same farm for 4 years, and have never had any illnesses from it. I also went on the raw milk diet 2 years ago, for three weeks, drinking this milk, and had no problems.

      • Sam says

        Maybe the babies weren’t being burped properly. You have no evidence, only anecdotes. Raw milk has harmful bacteria that can make kids sick because they have weakened immune systems. Babies have trouble processing food because their body is not developed yet. Raw milk has Listeria becateria in it, which can lead to childbirth problems in pregnant women. That’s a fact.

        • rawmilkmike says

          Sam, as a scientist, how long do you think it would take to prove it had nothing to do with burping? Even though it is theoretically possible for raw milk to contain unwanted bacteria there is no evidence that it actually does. The fact is pregnant women are prone to diarrhea. There is no evidence linking raw milk to diarrhea in pregnant women.

  140. Janeen says

    Thanks for the information, Chris. I drank raw milk prior to becoming pregnant but the one place locally that I knew to buy it stopped selling it suddenly. I knew there was some risk so I felt a little hesitatant giving it to my 3 year old but after reading this post, I feel much better that it is an acceptable risk for my family. I’m hoping to find another source near Tacoma, WA soon. Thank you for all you do.

  141. says

    It appears to me that your numbers are incorrect in your paragraphs, as is your descriptions of the illnesses. You really aren’t being very honest here. For a more detailed descriptions of the risks involved, I would encourage you to visit Bill Marler’s website (he’s the nation’s foremost foodborne illness attorney, who made his name during the Jack In the Box scandal). http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com

    To be clear: the risk from drinking unpasteurized milk is small. But the illnesses entailed are far more severe than what you seem to suggest here. We’re talking very scary hospitalizations, multiple organ failure, need for kidney transplants due to HUS, etc. The issue isn’t whether or not you are going to DIE, the issue is whether or not you will get sick, and how sick these pathogens can make you.

    I don’t understand the need to turn a blind eye to the risks involved.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Some of the data I used came directly from Marler’s analysis, and I’m familiar with his work. It doesn’t change anything I’ve written here. The outbreaks from peanuts, cantaloupe and eggs between 2009-2011 caused 39 deaths alone. There have been only a handful of deaths associated with pasteurized milk and no deaths from raw milk (excluding Queso Fresco) in the past 15 years. Furthermore, although there have been a few cases of serious illness, there were only 12 hospitalizations due to raw milk in the period of 2000 – 2007.

      Rather than making appeals to authority and generalized statements, which are not very convincing, I’d like to see some actual data that support your claims.

      As I said in the article, the risk of becoming ill from drinking raw fluid milk is small, the risk of developing a serious illness is even smaller, and the risk of dying is so small it’s almost inconsequential.

  142. Tanstaafl says

    Been looking forward to a raw milk post from you for a while; many thanks. Just wondering about the plane crash stats and how that ends up being 3 times more likely than raw milk related hospitalization.
    Highest Regards,
    Josh

    • Chris Kresser says

      It’s in the article. You have a 1 in 6 million chance of being hospitalized from drinking raw milk, according to the 2000-2007 dataset I analyzed. You have a 1 in 2 million chance of dying in plane crash, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Therefore your risk of dying in a plane crash is 3x greater than your risk of being hospitalized from drinking raw milk.

      Of course these are just broad generalizations. If you fly a lot, your risk might be higher, or if you don’t fly at all, your risk might be lower. These estimates don’t take any subjective factors into account, either – such as the sanitation procedures followed by the farmer you obtain raw milk from. The purpose isn’t to be exact (which is impossible), but to give a rough idea of comparable risks.

      • Michael says

        Chris I agree with most of your analysis because I did almost an exact copy of it in discussing the issue with a friend recently. However, one critique I would have in comparing raw milk to plane travel is that it is very easy to count deaths from plane travel and much, much harder to collect data about hospitalizations from raw milk.

        For example, it is incredibly easy to determine the cause of death of someone in a plane crash. They died when the plane hit the ground and there is not much debate. In contrast, if someone shows up at the hospital who is sick, there are an incredible number of things that must happen before that sickness is scientifically tied to contaminated raw milk. You must determine the person drank raw milk, is sick from bacteria that could live in raw milk, find the source of the raw milk, test the raw milk for the bacteria, and show that your raw milk testing sample is representative of the batch of milk that the patient drank. I would hope you could recognize that it is quite possible and probably likely that not all the data on raw milk hospitalizations is reported.

        But generally, thanks for the article backed up by research, logic, math, and sources. It’s the first raw milk article I’ve come across that uses these standard techniques in a legitimate way, so keep it up.

        Michael

        • Chris Kresser says

          Michael,

          I agree it’s not an apples to apples comparison. In addition, the 1 in 2 million estimate is obviously a broad generalization and isn’t adjusted for the frequency of air travel for each individual. The purpose was to simply give a very rough idea of how the risk of drinking raw milk compares with other risks that people voluntarily take on a regular basis.

          While what you say is true about hospitalizations from raw milk, it’s also true of illnesses and hospitalizations from other food vehicles. So it may very well be that the relative risk of hospitalization from raw milk vs. other foods would be no different if it were possible to accurately determine a food vehicle in all hospitalizations caused by foodborne illness.

          Thanks for your comment.

          • Heather says

            On the other hand, state and federal agencies are likely to tie an illness to raw milk if they even have a thin thread with which to do so–and often without properly investigating other possible sources of infection. That happened within the past year with one of the CA raw milk dairies. The state plastered it all over the news that several people had gotten ill from raw milk…but the real culprit turned out to be bagged salad–that the news articles plainly stated had been ruled out. And, of course, the raw milk dairy had its milk impounded for two weeks, tons of bad press, and not even an apology from the state at the end.

  143. Rachel says

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for this article!

    I’ve been drinking raw milk from a grass-fed herd here in Northeast Indiana since 2009. Actually, just this morning they had an article in our Fort Wayne (Journal Gazette) newspaper about the very farmer, Mark Grieshop, I purchased my cow from (it’s illegal to buy the raw milk here but you can buy cow share) and his work to provide a healthy local source of milk.

    I travel to this dairy, about 30 miles away, biweekly to pick up my milk. I talk to my farmer and I see my cows, usually out on lust green pasture. I have no connection to the milk purchased at a grocery store. They tell me it’s “safe” but is it? Going to the farm allows me to see that the cows are healthy, see what they eat and how they are treated. Mark is also very vigilant in contacting his shareholders if milk is not perfect.

    There will never be life without risk, what a dull life that would be, right? I guess what I have learned is that I have increased my chances of dying even more since I also eat rare beef, raw oysters, and occasionally cross the street:)
    Thanks again for the excellent (as always) posts.

    • Sam says

      Raw milk has listeria bacteria in it, which can leas to childbirth defects for pregnant women. The whole point of pasteurizing milk is to kill harmful bacteria. Please tell me how observing cows lets you know what bacteria is in the milk.

      • rawmilkmike says

        Sam, “The whole point of pasteurizing milk is to” destroy enzymes that oxidize the fat after homogenization. Regular pasteurization doesn’t even kill all the bacteria that’s why regular milk sours when not refrigerated.

  144. Lynn says

    Chris, how can I thank-you enough for this post? Can’t wait to read the next two! Bravo! I am a huge fan of raw milk and have consumed it safely for many years. I wish that everyone who believes the mainstream’s warning that drinking raw milk is “like playing Russian Roulette” would read this series. It is important to understand that EVERY food has risk and it is our right and our responsibility to make our own choices. I am involved in a Farm To Table event happening next month at the dairy in Central Oregon where my husband and I own our herd share. It is important to know your farmer! One of our event goals is to bring awareness of our diminishing food freedoms and access to the foods of our choice from the sources of our choice. The struggle to preserve these rights is worthy of civil disobedience! I will send the link to this post to many. Thanks!

  145. says

    Thank Chris for putting some numbers behind a common sense approach to consuming raw milk. If we followed the same CDC/FDA reasoning to evaluate the risks in other things we do, we would not do anything for fear of harming ourselves and our children. I believe raw milk has demonstrated benefits for health, and we should be allowed to assume the very tiny risk that goes with it. One thing that could be compared to this is the CDCs mandate for vaccines for our children – how risky are those vaccines compared to raw milk? Why are we expected to accept that risk, but in states like mine – New Jersey, we are not allowed to make the choice to buy raw milk for our children?

    • Sam says

      Raw milk has Listeria bacteria in it, which can lead to childbirth complications for pregnant women. So please tell me why raw milk is good for children with a scientific answer, not just vague generalities.

      • rawmilkmike says

        The short version Sam: I drank pasteurized milk for 55 years and got diarrhea 3 times a year. After switching to raw milk for 4 years I didn’t get diarrhea once. Now show me your science.

  146. says

    thanks so much for this. it’s great to have a thoroughly researched article that you can point people to that have concerns with drinking raw milk.
    I have been drinking it for years, and drank it all the way through my pregnancy. I am not a big milk drinker, but use it to make kefir, and yogurt. and in a cup of rooibos chai tea it is quite nice:-)
    I know my dairy farmer, (we live in Vancouver Canada), I know where my milk comes from, and feel so safe with the products they provide. I think that was what made me feel very safe to continue using it throughout pregnancy.

  147. Jay says

    Very needed topic for an article. Great to read such quality and clarification Chris. I hope you address the A1/A2 issue as well. Thanks.

  148. Glenn Atkisson says

    I agree with others that this appears to be a thorough article with respect to defending the right of people to sell and consume raw milk.
    I find it interesting that Chris is adept at providing articles that seem to excite raw-dairy advocates as well as paleolithic diet advocates. When a paleolithic oriented article is presented, it seems that all participants are into “paleo”. And now we will find out who is interested in being able to continue consuming raw milk, as those will probably provide almost 100% of the comments here on this article.
    Personally, I’m all for the freedom to eat what one chooses and I hope the government takes no further steps to prevent us from eating the healthy, natural (or unhealthy, unnatural) diets that we choose. I happen to exclude dairy from my diet except for some butter, and follow a paleolithic diet, but it’s only because my body reacts poorly to dairy products, plus the fact that I really think it may be unwise to consume products that were naturally meant only for the young of other species. I’m guessing that according to the logic of paleo-diet advocates, our species just hasn’t been doing that very long. Probably less long than we’ve been agrarian?
    So pasteurized or raw, I don’t really consider dairy products especially nutrient-rich and without negative risks. For me it’s just a matter of degree. If I had to drink milk, I would choose the less processed, and more sustainably, locally grown product – the raw version.

  149. Sarah says

    Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your perspective, and some useful links.

    It’s a tricky issue for sure, and people seem to feel very strongly about it! I’m curious to see your post on the benefits, because based on my research I’ve only found one major study that supports potential benefit, and even the authors did not conclude that their findings support raw milk consumption. I also think it’s telling that the CDC, WHO, CSPI, etc. all caution against raw dairy consumption. I respect the diligence of your research, but I also respect their conclusions as physicians, scientists, and experts in infectious disease.

    That said, I think this bizarre crusade to “bust” raw milk producers is totally misplaced and a waste of resources. Their facilities should certainly be held to high hygienic standards, but as you mentioned, when it comes to food safety, I think our priorities should be elsewhere.

    I was talking with a pediatric infectious disease specialist about this topic recently. We are both into local, sustainable, smaller farm practices, and he said he wouldn’t be surprised if benefits of raw milk emerge as more research is done. However, he said he would not give raw milk to small children (and definitely not to pregnant women), because the organisms associated with raw dairy illness tend to cause especially severe complications in children, such as renal failure, sepsis, and meningitis (and miscarriage or stillbirth in pregnant women), and it’s just not worth the risk, as small as it is, especially since the benefit is still largely theoretical (again, I’m excited to see what you’ve found here). Maybe I’ll email him your interpretation of the data and see what he thinks. For now, he’s hoping we can work towards better pasteurization methods, higher pressure and lower temp or even other technologies that might emerge, so we can hopefully preserve some of the “good stuff” while still eliminating pathogens. Maybe if studies back the benefits there will be a larger push in this direction?

    Again, thanks for providing links and studies to chew on. I like lurking here, because even though I often disagree with your interpretations and conclusions, I always appreciate having some actual evidence to ponder and lively discussion that challenges our assumptions about health and nutrition. I’ll stay tuned for more…

    • Chris Kresser says

      There is a clear double standard in the CDC, FDA and CSPI recommendations. The CSPI chart I included in the article shows very clearly that other types of foods – especially seafood and raw fish – cause orders of magnitude greater numbers of illnesses each year. Why do they not caution against eating those foods? The anti-raw milk efforts are far, far out of proportion with the actual risk posed by drinking raw milk, which was the main point of this article. If they truly have the interest of the public at heart, why focus so much on raw milk and not on other foods that cause greater numbers of (and more serious and life-threatening) illnesses?

      • Sarah says

        I do not conclude from this information that the CDC or CSPI do not have the interest of the public at heart. My guess is that, from a public health perspective, this issue is somewhat easier to tackle – it is easy enough to greatly reduce one’s risk of dairy-related infectious illness by just choosing to consume pasteurized milk products. It’s easy for them to just hammer home the pasteurization message, especially since from their perspective there are no major nutritional benefits to raw vs. pasteurized. The vastly larger issue of overall food safety in everything from our eggs to our cantaloupes, is a more systemic issue and one that the organizations you mention are certainly trying to address, at a policy, healthcare, and public level.

        In terms of raw seafood, the official food safety recommendations suggest cooking seafood before consumption, and it is definitely the recommendation for immunocompromised populations such as people living with HIV, but you’re right that they don’t come out against raw as definitively. Perhaps the pattern of consumption is at play here, such as the fact that milk tends to be a product of daily consumption, or that children tend to consume more milk relative to adults and relative to their seafood consumption? They also take on the bulk of the illness statistics from raw milk. Personally, I probably wouldn’t give my 2-year-old raw fish or raw oysters anyway, and I wouldn’t eat them everyday. I view raw milk similarly.

        I also think that for experts in infectious disease, the evidence of benefit will probably have to be pretty strong in order to turn the tide of consensus away from pasteurization.

        I agree that the absolute risk is small, and I definitely agree that there is no need to demonize, or legislate against raw milk. Raw milk consumption is a choice and I respect that you are looking to the data in making that choice. I am very much about small dairy farms (when we were in your neck of the woods we used Straus, and loved it) and think they are in fact, an important part of improving food safety. And I am looking forward to seeing what you’ve found about raw milk benefits.

        • Chris Kresser says

          since from their perspective there are no major nutritional benefits to raw vs. pasteurized

          That is of course what I will address in the next post. Note that there are also ethical, environmental, social and health considerations as well.

          Personally, I probably wouldn’t give my 2-year-old raw fish or raw oysters anyway, and I wouldn’t eat them everyday.

          It’s not just raw fish. Cooked fish and shellfish are responsible for many times more illnesses each year than dairy, even when adjusted for consumption.

          I think you’re right about raw milk being an easy target, and that people are particularly sensitive to it because it’s a food consumed by children.

        • Heather says

          Follow the money. Pasteurization is what makes the modern factory dairy system feasible. Without it, people would be back to doing business with the LOCAL dairy farm, who would be directly accountable to his customers for producing a safe, quality product. And a lot of big companies that are currently between farmer and producer would go under. Expect to see some sort of crusade against pastured meat as buying direct from the farm catches on, too. There’s a LOT of money in the factory-food system, and people like us are a huge, huge threat to those who wish to keep raking in that money.

          • Linda Brokopp says

            Yes, one of the main reasons for these large corporations, wanting us to eat their food is due to the amount of money they are earning. However, quite frankly, the food at the local grocery store tastes like cardboard. My son gets headaches from eating the apples laced with chemicals.

            I bought a roast the other day and I tasted it and it was absolutely disgusting. I had to throw it out because of the taste. I refuse to purchase meat from this local grocery store now.

            As for raw milk, there are many benefits. I should know because I drink it on a daily basis, as well as my son who started at the age of 6 months.

            The CDC etc etc are just fabricating a lot of words to benefit themselves. They don’t care about your health whatsoever. If you think they really care about you, you are wrong!

            People must remember, the only way to good health, sustainable health is to eat, raw, organic, clean food as well as adding herbs and spices to your diet. Try it out and you will see for yourself!

        • TheTOne says

          “I do not conclude from this information that the CDC or CSPI do not have the interest of the public at heart. My guess is that, from a public health perspective, this issue is somewhat easier to tackle – it is easy enough to greatly reduce one’s risk of dairy-related infectious illness by just choosing to consume pasteurized milk products. It’s easy for them to just hammer home the pasteurization message, especially since from their perspective there are no major nutritional benefits to raw vs. pasteurized. The vastly larger issue of overall food safety in everything from our eggs to our cantaloupes, is a more systemic issue and one that the organizations you mention are certainly trying to address, at a policy, healthcare, and public level.”

          It’s about minimizing and eliminating competition. It’s about money, not health. The large dairy operations benefit from this. Starting with the rise of urban dairy producers, they had to do something about their main competitors: smaller-scale dairies. To compete with them in a free market was not practical, so government gets involved to enact *mandatory* pasteurization laws in the States. If it was about health and safety, it would be more about education and promotion of cleaner practices; not about pushing for laws that crush specific businesses in the industry.

          Do you believe the “official story” about hemp, as well? Would you be surprised to know that hemp was a major competitor to the timber industry, especially in paper production? Would you be surprised to know that one of the men who spearheaded the anti-hemp campaigns had financial ties to the timber industry? Would you be surprised to know that “marijuana” was a Mexican slang word borrowed by propagandists in their campaign against hemp and cannabis?

          Do your own research and don’t fall for the “argument from authority”. Just because an institution has a fancy three- or four-letter acronym, doesn’t give any extra merit to their claims.

          • Zack says

            Could you elaborate or otherwise prove how regulation made it impossible for small dairies to compete, in concrete terms? What you’ve said at the moment sounds possible, but is a currently unsubstantiated narrative with no numbers or figures.

      • Royce Hamer says

        I read recently and I think it was on the Bovine that from 1986 until about 2006 there were 89 confirmed deaths from drinking pasteurized milk and one suspected death case of drinking raw milk. Apparently there was an outbreak in the American Midwest I think that took quiet a few lives from consuming pasteurized milk. I did not see this in the stats you uncovered. Comments Appreciated

        • Heather says

          There was a huge–thousands of people–salmonella outbreak from pasteurized milk in the Chicago area in the early 1980’s. Friends of ours were among the infected.

        • Vera says

          Chris clearly stated his stats were from 2000-2007. He did mention a breakout in the 1980’s as well. May very well have been the very one you have posted. Good to know the details on that by the way. Thank you.

      • Sam says

        Why should a pregnant woman drink raw milk that has Listeria bacteria in it, which can lead to childbirth complicarions. Answer that question with a scientific answer.

    • says

      You have to realize that no one with money in the dairy industry is interested in doing research proving that raw milk is healthier or more nutritious that the pasteurized milk they produce. The research that has been done tends to be old, and therefore disregarded, as scientists are wont to do. The story of why pasteurization was used to solve the problem of dirty and unhealthy cows in city dairies is complex, but be aware that high quality raw milk was used in the Mayo Clinic in the early 20th century therapeutically – see http://www.realmilk.com/milkcure.html.
      As a retired dietitian (now reformed) I can vouch that health professionals are brainwashed into believing notions like how dangerous raw milk is. Actually the benefits of high quality raw milk far outweigh the dangers, as many raw milk drinkers will attest. The best protection against the pathogens that are all around us is to support a healthy immune system, which keeps them at bay. Unfortunately our modern Western diet doesn’t offer much support.

    • says

      Really an awesome post Chris. It is absolutely amazing how big of an issue this has become. I greatly enjoy buying my raw milk from an Amish farm in PA.

  150. says

    This was very well done. Also, my Mother remembers having milk on the farm – but they boiled it in order to kill any bacteria, etc. I think boiling is a lot safer (and does less damage).

    • gregory barton says

      On the contrary, boiling, at 100 degrees C for minutes is worse than pasteurizing (at around 75 degrees for seconds).

  151. says

    Hey Chris – love your podcast and blog! Thanks so much for this information, I really like that you include the references and data to backup your points for nerds like me who like to geek out on that stuff.

    We just found a local farm near our house that sells raw milk (pastured meats and eggs yay!) so I am looking forward to your recommendations on how to identify safe and responsible raw dairy in the third part of this series.

  152. says

    Hi Chris:
    Thank you for this article. A few years ago, my husband just about bit my head off when I suggested we drink raw milk. He’s just read this and is now looking forward to the second part. This is the kind of evidence he needs! :-)

    • Sam says

      This is not evidence. Raw milk has Listeria bacteria in it, which can make you sick. Cows are dirty farm animals with bacteria that can make you sick, so drinking their milk without killing the harmful bacteria in it is stupid.

      • rawmilkmike says

        Sam, Listeria does not grow in raw milk and is seldom if ever found in it. Listeria is in soil and water and in most of us. Cows are not dirty animals. You will not live to long if you microwave all your food.

  153. Mandy says

    Because I’m in early pregnancy I have switched from raw milk to low-temp pasteurized organic local milk. Do you have an article that comments on drinking raw milk when pregnant? Also I would like to know your opinion on benefits of low-temp pasteurized organic local milk and wondering if you think that this might be a better option for pregnant women vs. raw milk.

    Thank you!

    • Chris Kresser says

      Mandy: that’s a decision that only you can make, based on your risk tolerance, values and priorities. I think low-temp pasteurized organic milk is a good alternative if you’re concerned about the risk, however small. I don’t recommend that people drink pasteurized milk without fermenting it first (either as yogurt or kefir), however.

      • Mandy says

        Hi Chris,

        Thank you for the permission to make my own choice. I’m in the process of understanding my own “risk tolerance, values and priorities” when it comes to drinking raw milk when pregnant. Are there any articles you have written or research you can point me to explaining the benefits and risks of drinking raw milk vs. pasteurized when pregnant. I hope you don’t think that I’m asking you to sell me on drinking raw, I simply curious and want to learn more and value you as a resource on this subject.

        Thank you.

        • Sam says

          Raw milk has Listeria bacteria in it, which can cause birth defects. Wow you’re ignorant, and you’re endangering a fetus.

          The Dangers of Listeria and Pregnancy

          Pregnant women run a serious risk of becoming ill from the bacteria Listeria which can cause miscarriage, fetal death or illness or death of a newborn. If you are pregnant, consuming raw milk – or foods made from raw milk, such as Mexican-style cheese like Queso Blanco or Queso Fresco – can harm your baby even if you don’t feel sick.
          http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/consumers/ucm079516.htm

          Listeriosis can be passed to an unborn baby through the placenta even if the mother is not showing signs of illness. This can lead to:

          Premature delivery
          Miscarriage
          Stillbirth
          Serious health problems for the newborn

          Prevention
          Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or eat foods that contain unpasteurized milk.
          http://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/infections-listeria.html

          • rawmilkmike says

            Sam, Mandy is not drinking raw milk. She said “I have switched from raw milk to low-temp pasteurized organic local milk.” You do realize it’s been 2 years and Chis has not been able to answer her question “Are there any articles you have written or research you can point me to explaining the benefits and risks of drinking raw milk vs. pasteurized when pregnant.” That’s because he hasn’t and there aren’t.

            Sam, a doctor’s touch, a hospital stay, prescription drugs, and raw milk, which is the safest and most effective?

            Listeria monocytogenes is a gram-positive bacilli bacterium, about 0.5 x 0.5-2.0µm in size. One to five percent of healthy people are thought to carry the organism in their intestinal tracts as a portion of their normal flora.
            https://www.emlab.com/s/sampling/env-report-05-2010.html
            “Listeria is a type of bacteria found in soil, water, and sometimes on plants.” If this is true, why no warnings for pregnant women about touching soil, water, and plants and how did they determine the source? These bacteria could have been and probably were with these women from the day of their birth.
            http://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/infections-listeria.html
            “A number of pathogens are commonly associated with persistent diarrhoea in children, but in children without diarrhoea the pathogens are found with similar frequencies.”
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2709113/

            Even though it is theoretically possible for some of your so called pathogens to get into raw milk and even though these bacteria are sometimes isolated from diarrhea there is little evidence that these bacteria are the cause of the diarrhea and no evidence that raw milk or any other food is the source of that bacteria.

            • Shiloh says

              Listeria is quite dangerous to humans if it’s allowed to cause an infection. It is VERY commonly found in milk. However, the human immune system generally eradicates it before it can cause any kind of infection.

              Most people don’t need to worry about it. The only people who need to be careful about being exposed to listeria are very elderly people, HIV patients, and especially pregnant women. It has knack for penetrating the placenta and then will wreak havoc on a developing fetus if it isn’t treated before it can penetrate the placenta.

              It is found in soil and there are no warnings against “touching” soil considering the fact that you can only be infected by listeria by consuming it. It isn’t terribly uncommon for produce planted in soil that contains listeria to become contaminated with it though.

              • rawmilkmike says

                Listeria is usually not dangerous to humans. It is not commonly found in raw drinking milk but is commonly found everywhere else.

                The human immune system does not eradicate it because it is part of our bodies normal flora.

                Most people don’t need to worry about it. The only people who need to be careful are people on medications, in hospitals, and other institutions.

                If listeria were as dangerous as you say there would be warnings against “touching” soil and produce just like we are warnings about touching raw chicken or told to wash our hands before leaving the bathroom.

                • Shiloh says

                  Wrong again, super sleuth.

                  It is dangerous if your immune system is unable to keep it in check. It causes a serious response in the immune system once you are exposed.

                  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2042024/

                  It is not part of the “natural flora’ in humans. You become exposed to it by eating and/or drinking a source that is contaminated with it. A tiny percentage of humans have it as part of their natural flora as they are seemingly immune to it. Or, as your link shows, a tiny 1 to 5% of humans. Much like a tiny percentage of people are immune to HIV.

                  The “touching” soil warning is cute, but I think you meant warnings against eating soil. Listeria infects at the cellular level, hence you have to actually consume something that it is already gestating in.

                  It’s ability to cause stillbirths and miscarriages is well documented.

                  http://textbookofbacteriology.net/Listeria.html

            • Shiloh says

              I also meant to mention that although infection in adults from listeria is uncommon, it can happen in adults with extremely compromised immune systems in the from of Listeriosis which has a 25% mortality rate. In rare cases it can present as meningitis.

              • rawmilkmike says

                Listeriosis can be a serious disease for humans; the “overt form” of the disease has a mortality rate of about 20 percent.
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listeria

                “One to five percent of healthy people are thought to carry Listeria monocytogenes in their intestinal tracts as a portion of their normal flora.”
                https://www.emlab.com/s/sampling/env-report-05-2010.htm

                “Listeria is a type of bacteria found in soil, water, and sometimes on plants.”
                http://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/infections-listeria.html

                “A number of pathogens are commonly associated with persistent diarrhoea in children, but in children without diarrhoea the pathogens are found with similar frequencies.”
                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2709113/

                • Shiloh says

                  Honestly, I don’t drink any kind of milk. Raw or pasteurized or otherwise. I find it disgusting and unnecessary to drink milk from another animal as an adult. I don’t care if others do it, I wouldn’t do it personally. Just like most other mammals on this planet. I was linked this site by a friend to show some of the CDC’s silly tactics and I happened to stumble upon your post and found it hilarious that you championed listeria as utterly harmless to everyone in an attempt to defend your own position.

                  Anyway, just for you:

                  Most cases of listeriosis and most deaths occur in adults with weakened immune systems, the elderly, pregnant women, and newborns. However, infections can occur occasionally in otherwise healthy persons. Infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, and infection of newborn infants. Outbreaks of listeriosis have been linked to a variety of foods especially processed meats (such as hot dogs, deli meats, and paté) and dairy products made from unpasteurized milk.

                  http://textbookofbacteriology.net/Listeria_3.html

                  Even pasteurized milk can have listeria in it if it is contaminated post-pasteurization before being bottled. Only way to be 100% safe if you’re pregnant or have AIDS is to boil your milk after buying it. Much like why it is recommended to reheat hot dogs/deli meat if pregnant before eating it. To kill listeria.

              • rawmilkmike says

                Shiloh, We consume raw milk to boost our immune system. Would you prefer Twinkies?

                Yes, Listeria may be associated with AIDS and stillbirth but raw milk is not.

                “Infection of mice with a sub-lethal dose of bacteria generates highly reproducible innate and adaptive immune responses…” We are talking about foodborne bacteria not injected bacteria.

                We wash our hands before leaving the bathroom so that we don’t eat excrement.

                “The disease affects primarily pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.” One vague and unsubstantiated line? Is this what you call “well documented.”

                Bacterial cells forming part of the normal flora outnumber human cells in the body. The normal flora provides protection by competing with pathogens for colonization sites and producing antibiotic substances (bacteriocins) that suppress other bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria produce toxic metabolic products and free fatty acids that inhibit other organisms. In the female genital tract lactobacilli produce lactic acid that lowers the pH, so preventing colonization by pathogens.
                Antibiotics suppress normal flora, which allows colonization and infection by naturally resistant organisms, such as Candida albicans. The infective dose of Salmonella typhi is lowered by concomitant antibiotic use. Antibiotics may upset the balance between organisms of the normal flora, allowing one to proliferate disproportionately, for example Clostridium difficile, which results in a severe diarrhoeal disease.
                http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/BUGL/immune.htm

                http://what-when-how.com/medical-microbiology-and-infection/innate-immunity-and-normal-flora-medical-microbiology-and-infection/

              • rawmilkmike says

                Shiloh, are you one of the “CDC’s silly tactics”? Pasteurized milk is a dairy product made from unpasteurized milk. What do you think happens to your immune system when you cook all your food? Do you have any data to back up your accusations. I am championing raw milk not listeria. You are championing the drug and processed food industries. Do animals cook their food? Are vegetables gross because they grow in the dirt or because we fertilize them with excrement?

      • Jessica says

        Do you think low-temp pasteurized cream from grass-fed cows should also be fermented first? I wasn’t sure if the high fat content made it a better choice than low-temp pasteurized milk for use in smoothies, while still getting the nutritional benefits.

    • Linda Brokopp says

      When I was pregnant, I drank two cups of raw milk daily and did not have any problems at all. My son started drinking raw milk from the age of 6 MONTHS and now he is 6 and we still enjoy our raw milk everyday!

      • Deep Nayak says

        Great article. My wife and I are drinking organic raw milk for past 10 months and we love is to bits. We enjoy home made kefir too. We have an 11 months old daughter. Since she was a couple of months old, I had been waiting for her to grow up quickly so than we could start giving her raw milk that we drink. As some sources suggested she should wait until she gets 1 year. Yesterday (when she is 11 months now) I felt to explore little to see how she gets on with raw milk I mixed 1 part raw milk with 5 parts of formula and fed her. This afternoon I felt to explored it a bit further and gave her 3 parts of raw to 4 parts of formula. In an hour she suddenly developed fever. After giving her baby paracetamol twice, 4 hours apart, she still hasn’t got rid of her fever. She is right next to me at present when I am trying to find articles on web that can give me reassurance that I haven’t made a huge mistake. Linda’s statement here was a little relief for me as she fed raw milk to her quite young baby. However I am still horrified reading all sorts of things on web about developing sickness to kidney failure in kids who have had consumed raw milk. I will stay up with my girl all night to comfort and supervise her temperature and if she does not recover by morning I will have to take her to A&E and get her checked up. I wish this is not raw milk related as I am quite aware of health benefits of raw milk and would like to continue consuming this by my family. Wish me luck. Thanks for reading.

        • Manju says

          how is your daughter? hope she has gotten better. Thinking of starting my 2 boys, 4 and 7 on raw milk but quite nervous about it with so much controversy around it…

          • Sam says

            Raw milk has listeria bacteria in it, which can make you sick. Provide me with a scientific explanation of why drinking Listeria bacteria is ok. Ask the author that too and he will not have a scientific answer. Be weary of people talking about science by trying to manipulate data instrad of giving sound scientific explanations.

            • rawmilkmike says

              Sam, Provide me with a scientific explanation of why drinking Raw milk is not OK. I am sure you will not have a scientific answer. Be weary of people talking about science by trying to manipulate data instead of giving sound scientific explanations.

            • Stupid redneck from Pa. says

              Drinking it for 35 years Lots of people in this part of Pennsylvania do. Its is no more dangerous than every day life. Just more government scare tactics for there dumb puppets. In the past few years I am really starting to understand the meaning of the only thing we have to fear is fear its self.

              • rawmilkmike says

                According to the CDC’s Minnesota study only 1.7% per year or 1 in 59 raw milk consumers get sick each year from foodborne disease. The national average for non-raw milk consumers is 9 times that. So that’s actually a negative risk factor? In other words “It’s dangerous not to drink raw milk.”

                Does “Red Neck” mean “Union Man” in your neck of the woods?

        • Who says

          Raw milk drinker myself. However, I would not give it to a young baby. They do not have the immune systems set in place yet to drink it. Remember, almost ALL food borne illnesses happen to the very young, very old, immune suppressed.
          Just my .02 cents

          • Jen says

            I don’t really care if people drink raw or pasteurized milk, so I’m not biased by any means. But what kind of moron gives a 6 month old raw milk!?! They are not able to digest cow’s milk at that age! Infants need human breast milk (or formula) until at least 12 months. I thought that was common knowledge.

            • rawmilkmike says

              Jen, if you are not bias and you don’t “care if people drink raw or pasteurized milk” then why would you call someone you don’t know a “moron” when talk about something you unfamiliar with? I’m sure Deep had heard pretty much the same urban legend as yourself, that is why he was trying to wait till his daughter’s first birthday. What ever caused the child’s fever happened before it was given the raw milk.

              All the literature actually says is “Cow’s milk is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children under 1 year old.” It seldom says why. The one website that did said it was because it didn’t have the proper nutritional value. Now a days in America, if someone says milk you can assume they are referring to pasteurized milk. So what they were saying is that pasteurized milk does not have the nutritional value to sustain human life. The same would would be true of breast milk if it were pasteurized and homogenized. Also these are the same people that say no one should drink raw milk. So why would you say in the same breath “I don’t really care if people drink raw or pasteurized milk”?

          • Scott says

            Mike,
            You’re clearly talking/sharing/thinking too confidently about unpasteurized milk. I do well, usually, with unpasteurized milk,… but there are conditional exceptions, as have been reasonably well documented and/or anecdotally shared by other people.
            The raw milk could certainly have caused the fever like reaction in Deep’s daughter. The word ‘could’ is in there, yes,.. but if someone’s paying attention they can see correlations,… most especially if repeated,…but sometimes some correlations are fairly apparent enough for one to not want to make a repeat of the suspected causative factor.
            One’s body gives ‘response indicators’,… and which are repeatable with causative factors,… conditionally dependent in some cases.
            Be aware, be prudent. Let your body prudently direct, and apply mindful management as your body apparently indicates, which can be seen in the results.

            • rawmilkmike says

              Scott, what “conditional exceptions that have been reasonably well documented and/or anecdotally shared by other people could possibly have caused the fever like reaction in Deep’s daughter”? What bug has a gestation period of one hour or even 8 for that matter? Even influenza takes one to three days. Of all the things that can cause a fever why would you suspect the one thing that couldn’t have possibly caused it? Are you suggesting it could be a detoxing effect or some bug? How much and how often do you drink raw milk? Any adult milk drinker switching to raw milk should realize it’s safety and benefit in a very short time.

              • Scott says

                Mike,
                Depending on ones body, some ‘bugs’ or the chemistry of the food in relation with a give persons body, can certainly cause quick reactions, such as under and hour, or even within minutes. It’s kind of beyond practical science,… as many dietary matters tend to be, due to the variables of the circumstances, such as different bodies, different foods, different physiological factors, different environmental factors, different fitness/health factors. That’s the answer to your question. I’ve been drinking raw milk almost every week since mid spring this year. Previous years when I would try it on rare occasion it would give me excessive flatulence, unlike pasteurized milk, at least from my experience. However, from my experience, raw food which a body can handle well is superior for health compared to pasteurized milk. But, my standard is certainly unhomogenized milk. I find homogenized milk not as healthy for me in comparison with unhomogenized milk. The effect with me is most noticeable in my sexual vitality(I’m just being straight in sharing my experience, nothing crazy). Also, a few days ago, some raw milk I had (from the major producer here in Cali), which was a little on the ‘old’ side(it had been at slightly cooler than room temperature over night in one of my daycoolers(I’m a landscape contractor) a couple days prior to when I consumed it, then put it back in the fridge in the morning after), though still a week away from the expiration, caused an unusual not pleasant feel in me, and more flatulence, which I attribute to the milk, and not other foods I ate that day,… just an anecdotal correlation. No major problem, apparently.

                My current ‘go-to’ milks, especially during summer, due to the warmer/hotter weather(warmer temps being more favorable to ‘bug’ growth), is the Humboldt ‘grass fed’ unpasteurized milk from Organic Valley and the Jersey milk by Saint Benoit.
                Claravale Jersey raw milk is my favorite.

                Our bodies reveal what is healthy for us, without science. Our bodies give response indicators to what we eat, as well as to the quantities we eat.

                For the most part, those factors together make the difference as to something being healthy for us or not.
                And what is healthy(or optimum) for someone at a given time, is individually variable.

                Also, let’s address the matter of ‘zealousness’,… the dietary/nutrition fields are particularly well known for zealousness,… such as the various vegan and raw factions especially,.. and others,.. such as ‘paleo’,…. and others probably.
                Some environmentalist groups,… some Christian groups, Islamic groups,… though I’m not talking about violence here,.. but you get it.

                Also, to digress a bit, food for thought, just to say, doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what we’re talking about here: if there’s anything most distinctively fundamental about humanity, it’s the making and use of fire,… and how that has been used for preparing many of the foods we eat,… and how all that has affected our genera’s(Homo species) physical/physiological development, social development, and mental development.

                • Scott says

                  I miswrote a couple words or so. Such as ‘food’ instead ‘milk’, ‘and’ instead of ‘an’,…
                  Let’s get an ‘edit’ tab on this site.

                • rawmilkmike says

                  Bombastic, Double Talk, Mumbo Jumbo. Are you saying Deep’s daughter had an allergic reaction to dairy?

                  What? Now you are saying you are lactose intolerant to raw milk but not pasteurized milk. Holly smokes!

                  You will see little benefit if you drink raw milk less than once week and you will never see just how safe it actually is.

                  You do have a point. Today milk is homogenized at over 14,000psi.

                  Raw milk sours. It doesn’t spoil. Your flatulence is starting to sound psychological.

                  By ‘zealousness’, you apparently mean people with different opinions.

                  Cooked food is the first junk food.

              • Scott says

                Mike,
                You’re comedy(your picture supports that too), no use in going further with you.
                Live according to your body’s integrity.

                • rawmilkmike says

                  Scott, I hope you see now, that “You’re clearly talking/sharing/thinking too confidently about pasteurized milk.” If you increase your raw milk ration to at least a quart a day you will see where my confidence comes from. Don’t feel bad. I ran across raw milk 8 years ago pretty much by accident and have been researching it ever since.

              • Scott says

                Mike, I rarely call people names,… it’s something genuinely I avoid doing, because, y’know, “it’s not the person it’s the action” it can be said,.. but you’ve deserved it, you’re brain has gone ‘mental’, basically you’re a nut case.
                And basically everyone on this comments-stream realizes it.
                Anyway, again, consume according to the integrity of your body, with regards to how it reveals itself to you.

                Enjoy/Consume raw milk and reap the benefits, likewise with what ever else you find works well for you.

                I’m not a hardliner for either pasteurized or raw,… they both have their benefits, conditionally.

                However, I distinctly find my body does best with un-homogenized milk,…. pasteurized or raw,… both,.. I do well with both,.. better than homogenized-pasteurized, as a matter of my health and vitality, – how I feel in the sense of health and vitality, my body’s ‘systemic flow vitality’,… however it may be stated.

                Continue with your comedy as you may.

                • rawmilkmike says

                  Scott, you are clearly upset with my confidence in raw milk but you don’t seem to be able to verbalize why this is such a problem for you. Is it the price or availability of raw milk in your area? Where do you get this unhomogenized pasteurized milk you keep raving about? What brand is it? Do they have it at whole foods or what? They may have carried it at my local health-food store but I didn’t see it the last time I looked. Obviously if you have no allergies or other health problems you must be doing something right. What are we arguing about really? Your unhomogenized milk is less toxic then homogenized but it does not have the benefits of raw milk.

              • Scott says

                Mike, I’m not upset at you or your confidence,… I’m just calling you out,… but not upset about it.
                Your first sentence question on your last reply,.. more nutcase style, – no further comment from me on that. We’re simply having a back and forth of perspectives, and I’ve briefly shared my experiences, which is sufficient for this forum. I support both pasteurized and raw,… so people have a choice,.. and many people would prefer pasteurized-homogenized, let them,.. I even will consume that on occasion, possibly, if there’s lack of other choice foods.
                As I mentioned before, the pasteurized-unhomogenized milk I’ve been satisfied with is Organic Valley ‘grass fed’ unhomogenized from Humboldt County(so it is written on the container). And, Saint Benoit Jersey milk, unhomogenized.

                Claravale Jersey is my favorite raw milk.

                • rawmilkmike says

                  Thanks Scott, for the heads up on Organic Valley Grassmilk. It sounds pretty good and there are 3 stores in my area that carry it. If I ever need to buy pasteurized milk for someone I know were to go. The only problem is that Organic Valley is anti-raw milk. They don’t let there dairy suppliers sell raw milk. If you “support both pasteurized and raw,…” say something for raw milk. So far you have only argued against it.

              • Scott says

                Mike,
                I have stated somethings in favor of raw milk for fresh consumption by humans in our discourse over these couple days. Look at what I’ve written again. I’ve ‘only’ argued against it as you’ve stated on the last sentence. I have made the motion of being conditionally in favor and disfavor for raw milk for fresh consumption by humans, based on my experiences and respect for that of others, even given all the variables and inconsistencies with food poisoning throughout the food industry.

                Anyway, you’re further demonstrating your comedy of nut case style,… silliness of rhetoric and misunderstandings,… and such.

                Over and out.

              • Scott says

                I meant I’ve “I’ve NOT ‘only’ argued against”. I’ve ‘argued’ both in favor and disfavor, conditionally.

                Edit option please for our comments.

                • rawmilkmike says

                  Raw milk rhetoric Scott? You have got to be kidding me. The only rhetoric here comes from the anti-raw milk people like yourself. Aside from the doubletalk your entire script comes right from the anti-raw milk play book. You are clearly angry about something but you refuse to say what it is. You say you “support both pasteurized and raw” but all your points are negative.

                  1. You’re clearly talking too confidently about unpasteurized milk.
                  2. I do well, usually, with unpasteurized milk.
                  3. There are conditional exceptions, as have been reasonably well documented.
                  4. The raw milk could certainly have caused the fever like reaction in Deep’s daughter.
                  5. Some ‘bugs’ can certainly cause quick reactions even within minutes.
                  6. It would give me excessive flatulence, unlike pasteurized milk.
                  7. Our bodies reveal what is healthy for us.
                  8. Some raw milk I had caused an unusual not pleasant feel in me, and more flatulence.
                  9. Warmer temps are more favorable to ‘bug’ growth.
                  10. The dietary/nutrition fields are particularly well known for zealousness.
                  11. Cooked foods are fundamental to humanities physiological, social, and mental development.
                  12. Rawmilkmike you’re brain has gone ‘mental’, basically you’re a nut case.
                  13. I’m calling you out.
                  14. More nutcase style.
                  15. Even given all the food poisoning throughout the food industry.
                  16. You’re further demonstrating your comedy nut case style silliness.

          • Mellissa says

            Why hasnt anyone mentioned the time tested Weston Price and Sally Fallon Morell homemade baby formula that is being used by tons of moms for years and years? It recommends raw milk (cow or goat) and dilutes it to make protein and sodium content within acceptable range, then adds back in good fats and carbs and natural vitamin/mineral sources from whole foods.

            So I guess that answers the question “what kind of moron would feed raw milk to a 6 month old?” Really, what kind of uneducated babbling idiot comes onto a forum and professes to know so much with so little knowledge. phsst.

            http://www.westonaprice.org/beginner-videos/baby-formula-video-by-sarah-pope-2/

            http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/faq-homemade-baby-formula/

            http://www.realmilk.com/how-to/recipes-for-whole-foods-baby-formula/

  154. Michaela says

    Hi Chris
    I really appreciate your post about raw milk. I love products made from raw milk like raw milk kefir yogurt butter cheeses. I make and drink homemade kefir daily also my daughter( I do not drink unfermented milk) I would like to ask you about types of raw milk I do not buy cow only sheep and sometimes goat one. I have found that sheep milk is even more nutritious than goat one. We have good sources both of them, they are on pasture on mountain so What kind of milk would you suggest sheep or goat one?
    Thanks

    • Lubo says

      Goat and Sheep milk are both good, but I would give preference to goat milk as it is coming closer to human milk.
      Ferment it with kefir culture, and you have a superfood for your kids who still need milk in their diet. Fermenting will supress pathogens and will form a wonderful probiotic drink.
      Where I am living even baby Gods are fed goat milk :-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amalthea_%28mythology%29
      My ancestors were feeding Kumiss to their kids, which is a fermented milk made from mare’s milk. Mare’s milk is coming closer to human milk as well.

  155. says

    Wow, that is what I call thorough. You must have done quite a bit of research for this article. Thanks Chris!

    Been feeding my toddler raw milk from grass fed cows, so I really appreciate the clarification you put on these studies.

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