Raw Milk Reality: Is Raw Milk Dangerous? | Chris Kresser
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Raw Milk Reality: Is Raw Milk Dangerous?

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Full Bottle of fresh milk and two glass is wooden table on a blue background

Back 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.

597 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.

          • 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.

  4. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

  7. 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.

      • Hi, I dont think ti is as simple as that. Just because a milk sample has a small amount of bacteria doesnt mean that you will get sick – in raw milk there are pathogen killing good bacteria that will ovewhelm the pathogenic bacteria in time, not as much as with kefir made from raw milk, but still happens. This is the problem with some of CDC trying to link illlnesses with people who have had raw milk – they may find the same bacteria in the milk but it doesn’t prove that the milk caused the illness, many other foods they ate could have caused the illlness. “Do you drink raw milk” is a leading first question often asked by doctors and investigators, so this can skew reports. I read about this in an excellent book in a chapter about the dangers of raw milk where the authors analysed CDC reports of raw milk related illnesses and found them wanting. Sorry I can’t find that chapter on the internet, it is out there somewhere…maybe someone else can help?

        • In raw milk there are pathogen killing good bacteria that will overwhelm the so called pathogenic bacteria in time, even more so with kefir made from raw milk. Leaving the milk out at room temperature gives it time to kill off any unwanted bacterial contamination.

          And don’t forget: “Raw milk contains antibodies and several antimicrobial activities, including lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, lysozyme, and possibly N-acetyl-ß-D-glucosaminidase.” And many many other too numerous and complex to put in this comment.

          The CDC and the state seldom test the milk and when the do they usually don’t find any of their so called foodborne pathogens. They may find the same bacteria in the milk but it doesn’t prove that the bacteria or the milk caused the illness. Food is actually the least likely source of the so called pathogens and diarrhea is more often caused by a lack of bacteria. Healthy people are just as likely to have a positive stool sample.

          My motto “Don’t give good links to bad people.”

      • That’s the only way to know what, Sam? If you are going to test your milk at all, it would be before you drink it. Seeing that she has been drinking it for years she already knows more about her milk than any bacteria or somatic cell test will show.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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…

    • 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?

      • 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.

        • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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!

        • “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.

          • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  11. 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).

    • On the contrary, boiling, at 100 degrees C for minutes is worse than pasteurizing (at around 75 degrees for seconds).

      • Seriously why would they think boiling is better than pasteurizing? All you’d get is scalded milk.

  12. 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.

  13. 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! 🙂

    • 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.

      • 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.

  14. 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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

          • 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.

            • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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

            • 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.

              • 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/

                • 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.

              • 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/

              • 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?

      • 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.

    • 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!

      • 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.

        • 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…

          • 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.

            • 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.

            • 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.

              • 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?

        • 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

          • Who, if you are a raw milk drinker you know raw milk does not cause food-borne illness.

          • 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.

            • 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”?

          • 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.

            • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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.

                • 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.

              • Mike,
                You’re comedy(your picture supports that too), no use in going further with you.
                Live according to your body’s integrity.

                • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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.

              • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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.

            • People drinking camel milk for the first time often get detox type reactions. They only give young children one teaspoon to begin with, according to my Iranian boyfriend, a Herbal doctor. Camel milk is some kind of superfood from my understanding, so not to be compared with raw dairy from other animals, but it is interesting to not the caution practised by cultures for whom raw dairy is a long standing practice.

              I have seen 3 of the (emotive) videos of babies/young children who ended up with severe kidney problems in hospital (published on an anti-raw milk website-US), and from one of the accounts, it looked like the toddler drank a whole load of raw goats dairy for the first time, so this could have been a factor in her becoming ill. According to my boyfriend, acute kidney failure is a risk for very young children when they drink too much camel milk before they are ready. Acute kidney failure, from my studies, is not as nearly as bad as chronic kidney failure, it is often a temporary reaction when the kidneys are overwhelmed, but understandably the mother was scared by both the diagnosis and the fact that her child was so young, and because she appeared somewhat medically illiterate ( as was one of the other fathers).I found the prognosis below each case on the videos somewhat pessimistic.

              Also bear in mind that some of those children had reported autoimmune problems already so may have been more sensitive. Sorry this is not very exact and unbacked up, but my intention is to provide possible reasons/balance. I myself would not hesitate to give raw milk to young children, however I would check the source, consider each child individually and go slow in the beginning to build up their immunity and tolerance.

              • Thank you so much. I have been saying many of the same things for years. And don’t forget Anti-diarrhea medications sometimes given by parents and antibiotics given by doctors at various stages of treatment, will always make these cases worse.

          • 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/

  15. 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

    • 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.

  16. 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.