Raw Milk Reality: Is Raw Milk Worth the Risk? | Chris Kresser
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Raw Milk Reality: Is Raw Milk Worth the Risk?

by Chris Kresser

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In Is Raw Milk Dangerous, we examined the risk associated with drinking unpasteurized milk compared to the risk associated with consuming other foods, and with other activities such as driving a car. In Raw Milk Benefits, we covered some of the possible benefits of unpasteurized milk. In this article, I’m going to present a framework for determining whether raw milk is worth the risk for you and your family.

As I said in the first article, I’m not here to convince you to drink raw milk. I don’t work for a raw milk producer. I don’t make money promoting raw milk. I have nothing to gain if you decide to drink raw milk, nor do I have anything to lose if you choose not to.

This is a decision you have to make on your own, by weighing the risks vs. benefits and considering more personal variables such as your health status, risk tolerance, values and worldview. Every day we make choices that involve this kind of evaluation, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Each time we get into a car, for example, we are deciding that the convenience and efficiency driving offers is worth the risk of injury or death. We may not consider the decision in these terms – because we’re so accustomed to driving – but that doesn’t mean the risk isn’t real and we aren’t making a choice.

With that in mind, let’s discuss a few of the factors you might consider in your decision.

Are dairy products even necessary?

In a word: no. Humans have only consumed dairy products for a short period of our evolutionary history, and we thrived without them. No one suffers from “dairy deficiency”.

That said, I do believe dairy products can be beneficial when they’re well-tolerated. Several epidemiological studies have linked dairy consumption (especially full-fat dairy) with positive health outcomes. (1) While this does not prove causality, we also know that dairy contains healthful nutrients like fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and conjugated linoleic acid (natural trans-fat), some of which can be difficult to obtain elsewhere in the diet.

Fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir can be particularly beneficial, especially for those with gut issues.

And we don’t eat only for health. We also eat for pleasure. Dairy is one of the most popular food categories around the world, equally beloved by people of all ages, ethnicities and walks of life. We have sayings like “butter makes everything better” and “crème de la crème” for a reason!

Do you tolerate pasteurized milk?

If you tolerate pasteurized dairy, and you’re concerned about the risk associated with raw milk, you might try to find a small, local dairy with grass-fed cows that uses vat or low temperature pasteurization. In contrast to the ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurization process used by large commercial dairies, vat pasteurization heats the milk to a lower temperature (145 degrees) for a longer period of time (30 minutes) and then cools it as quickly as possible. Proponents of vat pasteurization say that it tastes better than milk pasteurized with high temps, and it seems reasonable to assume that the nutrient loss would be less (although I haven’t seen any data on this).

An additional benefit of these small dairies is that many don’t homogenize their milk. As Cynthia pointed out in a recent comment, homogenization squeezes large casein micelle complexes through small pores to break them up. The micelles are held together by calcium phosphate. When the micelles are broken up in homogenization, the fats are exposed to calcium, which forms calcium soaps (“saponification”). Calcium soaps not only irritate the gut and make it leaky, but also decrease the absorption of protein, vitamins and minerals. (2, 3)

A similar option is purchasing raw milk, and then pasteurizing it at home. You can do this with a home pasteurization machine, or with your stovetop using the low-temperature method I described above. Click here for instructions.

However, even those that “tolerate” pasteurized dairy often find that they feel much better drinking unpasteurized milk. And of course if you’re one of the many  people that doesn’t do well with pasteurized milk products, raw milk is your only option if you wish to consume dairy.

Are you elderly, pregnant, immunocompromised or do you have young children?

In Is Raw Milk Dangerous I presented data indicating that the risk of developing a serious illness (requiring hospitalization) from drinking unpasteurized milk is very low: less than one in a million. I also pointed out that other foods like fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, and beef are far more likely to cause illness than dairy products, even when adjusted for consumption.

That said, there is a risk of serious illness associated with drinking unpasteurized milk. And it’s important to note that this risk is more heavily weighted toward young children (under 3-4 years old), pregnant women, the elderly and those with less developed or compromised immune systems.

These illnesses can be severe. For example, in a recent outbreak in Oregon, a toddler and two young teens were hospitalized after drinking raw milk contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7, one of the most virulent foodborne pathogens. Two of them had hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure. In another outbreak involving E. coli 0157:H7 this year in Missouri, two were hospitalized, including a two-year old with HUS.

On the other hand, it could be argued that growing children, pregnant women and people with under-functioning immune systems have the most to gain from the benefits of raw milk. This is illustrated by a comment from a reader on the last post in this series. He recently had an intestinal transplant (both small and large) and is taking powerful immunosuppressant medication, which would certainly place him in the “immunocompromised” category. Yet he feels that unpasteurized milk has been a significant factor in his unusually speedy recovery. He is the only recipient of the transplant that he’s aware of that hasn’t returned to the hospital with sepsis and systemic infection. Shortly after the surgery, he attempted to drink pasteurized milk and got severe cramps and diarrhea and lost 10 pounds. Yet in spite of his doctor’s warning that he’d never be able to tolerate dairy (because all intestinal and multivisceral tranplant recipients become lactose intolerant), he has thrived on raw milk.

A story like this doesn’t prove that unpasteurized milk had anything to do with his recovery. But I’ve read about and heard from many people who’ve had similar – albeit less dramatic – experiences, and I also feel that raw milk kefir was a crucial factor in my own healing process. And as we discussed in Raw Milk Benefits, there is substantial epidemiological evidence that children that consume raw milk may be protected against asthma and allergic diseases.

What is your risk tolerance? And what is important to you?

The extremely small risk of developing a serious illness is enough to turn some people off to raw milk. That is a perfectly valid choice.

Others feel so much better when they drink unpasteurized milk that they’re willing to take the risk. Or perhaps they love dairy, but can’t tolerate pasteurized milk. Or maybe they’re a “foodie” and they simply prefer the taste of raw milk to pasteurized milk.

Each day we make choices, and take risks. We’re more aware of some than others. We are hundreds of times more likely to die in a car crash than develop a serious illness from drinking unpasteurized milk, yet that doesn’t stop us from driving (by ourselves or with our children). Some may argue that driving is a necessity, while drinking raw milk is optional. I would argue that both activities are optional, and whether we choose to do one or the other is simply a reflection of our priorities and preferences.


Two good alternatives to raw milk that I mentioned above are finding a small, local dairy with grass-fed cows that uses vat pasteurization and preferably doesn’t homogenize their milk, and purchasing raw milk and pasteurizing it at home.

These may be ideal solutions for those that are concerned about risk, but have no problem digesting pasteurized milk.

If you don’t tolerate pasteurized milk, or choose to drink raw milk for any other reason, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk. That will be the subject of the final article in the series.

Now I’d like to hear from you. After reading this series, do you think raw milk is worth the risk? Why or why not? Please leave your vote and comment below.


Join the conversation

  1. There may be another reason why people are intolerant to dairy products that people aren’t aware of.

    People should be aware that there are different milk proteins and that one produces a toxic product of milk called BMC-7. This impacts the health very negatively according to studies.

    There are two types of milk protein. A1 beta casein and A2 beta casein. A1 milk protein produces the BMC-7 protein fragment. Many people who think their lactose intolerant are actually intolerant to A1 milk protein.

    The fat portion of the milk like heavy cream does not contain hardly any milk protein so not a problem. For a while, I was puzzled when I made clam chowder and did not get a reaction while I got reaction from milk.

    Most milk in western world is A1 milk so toxic milk dominates.

    Jersey and Guernsey cows are mostly A2 milk but they need to be verified. I can only drink A2 milk protein. Only one company certifies their milk as A2.

    The highest quality milk would be milk that is unpasteurized, A2 milk and non-homogenized. Unless it is A2 milk, I can’t drink it.

  2. Hey peeps. This is copy-paste of my response on another site, so it might look like I’m for some reason advertising raw milk.
    Let me share my experience with raw milk. I live in Croatia and I’ve been ignoring these raw milk vending machines that sprawl on every corner these days. One day we had no choice but to buy it because we needed it and it was Sunday and wife was making a cake. I reluctantly let her talk me into trying it (I’m quite visual and suggestive so I was imagining cows, farm shit and whatnot and was quite sure I was going to throw up the second I sniff it). Lo and behold, it was freaking delicious, super cold because it needs to be to keep it fresh, It tastes like cream, almost sweet cream, with no “artefacts” or “alien” tastes whatsoever. It was approx. 2 years ago. From that very day until now, I’ve been consuming 2 litres of that milk EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s so good I just need to have it. And price is ridiculous for a healthy product of such consistent quality: less than 1 USD per litre. Now, for the benefits I noticed. Definite reduction in colds. When I say definite it’s like 50-75% reduction. One winter I didn’t catch cold at all, which never happened. My child had terrible cold lately, leaving her snorts everywhere including my face of course, mixing the viruses with us and I was sure we were going the same path – nothing. I need to clarify I’m on this page because I Googled it if it might have something to do with raw milk drinking – turns out it very well could. Up until now I thought it was C vitamin supplement I was taking, but I took it before and never noticed any change. Do I have side effects from 2 years on 2 liters of raw milk per day? Sure, occasionally I contribute to green house effect with really, really good fart. Sorry planet. But it’s nothing to do with milk being raw. If anything, commercial pasteurized variants are far worse in that matter because they lack enzimes needed to digest lactose. From 2 litres of that crap per day I’d probably have regular diarrhea. Sorry for being honest and perhaps vivid. Just can’t believe there are people who believe bullshit they’re being fed by TV and other media. The longest living populations on Earth are surviving, no, thriving almost exclusively on raw milk and its derivates, now all of a sudden white jism in plastic containers are better for us. Let’s get back to roots. And healthy farts.

  3. Hello, this comment is for anyone who can answer please. I’ve read some of the comments about feeding children, so I wanted to ask about my 14 month old daughter. She’s been breastfed since birth and of course eats food noe, but I’d like to drop feedings. I would like to know what would be the optimal drink to give her ? I would like tomhave her weaned by 2 years old by dropping all night feedings, then most of the day leaving morning and evening, then down to just before bed. I know she’s not an infant anymore so that maybe I shouldn’t worry about homemade formula, however I’m uncomfortable with giving her raw milk. I’m also uncomfortable with giving her regular milk! And someone commented saying thst goat’s milk doesn’t have any fat, I would like to see some articles about this. I was thinking of just giving her goat’s milk but she is off the chart in weight (too “skinny”) so we need to “fatten” her up a bit. Also if anyone can recommend specific foods that I should be giving her that would help her gain weight?
    Thanks in advance.

  4. I have been raised on dairy farm producing milk. I do still to this day love to drink right out of the bulk tank straight from the teat cooled to my prefered temperature of under 35 degrees and still above freezing. Coolest part its not water with white color and i can drink it and its breakfast. Add cerial and its adds minerals that is not in raw milk. It has not killed me to today and crave it. I have not been a avid doctor affiliate but for a few stitches and a broken wrist. All my original teeth still in my head no fillings or cavities and been to the dentist twice in my life. It does the body good. I believe that once it is heated the pasturization it actually takes a way from the benefeits and makes the benefeits weak. If it is all up to the gov it makes you spend more for pills than whats in front of you. Give the gov the benefeit of the doubt and by the sacraligious pills and drugs they advertise on tv every day and listen to the side affects and its still legal. What is the side effects of raw milk? The shits because of to much of a overdose of what your body needs left side of missing a human breast nipple. Formula any one? Its not a race either.

  5. Dear Chris, I know this thread is old, but it still generates a lot of traffic. One question I see that has come up from readers is, what exactly should a consumer look for in a farm when considering a raw milk? What safety practices are important, and what questions should be asked? Its a great question, and one that is not easy to answer since raw milk standards are all over the board, or non-existence. Public health has been slow to suggest best practices or risk-reduction methods for raw milk, and rather just recommends that raw milk be universally avoided, ignoring the public demand.

    However, there is a growing movement among raw milk producers to define good practices and put forth science-based risk managment plans. I would recommend that you contact Dr. Cat Berge, board member of The Raw MIlk Institute, http://www.rawmilkinstitute.net. She is an expert on this subject and would be able to suggest some very practical marks of a responsible raw milk producer. That information could be very helpful to readers here if it were made available.

  6. hello Chris, i am thinking of making homemade formula for my baby. I found a link to a recipe on the Whole 30 site but i am a bit sceptical about using raw milk. it is not readily available and the recipe (Weston Foundation) calls for raw milk. I am thinking of boiling the raw milk but i worry about destroying the benefits. i could maybe use organic milk (less expensive) but finding milk from grass fed cows is also tricky. have you got any advice?

    • Enya, homemade baby formula is a great option. My adopted daughter thrived on the formula recipe from WAPF (although she actually did better on the meat recipe than the milk.)

      That said, you do NOT have to use raw milk for your baby formula. You can use store purchased pasteurized, or home pasteurized raw milk from a farm. My suggestion is to find the highest quality milk possible. Organic, Non-homegenized, from grass-fed cows if possible. If that best-quality milk comes raw, I would home pasteurized first. You need not boil the milk, but rather heat it to 160 degrees for 30 seconds. Low temp home pasteurization will kill pathogens, but it will not fully denature proteins like high-temp commercial pasteurization. Here’s how to do it:

      Heat your milk and gelatin together as per the recipe. Use a thermometer and stir and watch carefully until it reaches 160 degrees. It will only take a couple minutes. Set aside.

      Place all your other ingredients in your blender, except the water. Add the cold water to your heated milk to cool it down. Then add to your blender and blend. Voila.

      If you MUST use raw milk, then please source it only from a farm that conforms to the high safety standards of The Raw Milk Institute. http://www.rawmilkinstitute.net. If a farm is not praciticing strict science-based sanitation standards, including regular milk testing, forget it. Babies can die from drinking raw milk that is contaminated with pathogens.

      I am a raw milk producer, by the way. I love raw milk, but I also understand risk.

      • thanks for all that information. i am thinking of using homogenized organic milk from grass fed cows. i will try the homemade formula if i can find all the ingredients.

        • Sounds like a good plan Enya. Sometimes we have to make the best plan based on what foods are practically available where we live! As for the many other ingredients in the formula, you can find most of them on Amazon. Some ingredients like the sunflower oil, coconut oil, olive oil may be available for less money at your local natural foods store. And http://www.radiantlifecatalog.com sells all the ingredients in a kit. The most expensive item can be the probiotics because they have to be shipped on ice overnight. I saved a lot of money on the probiotics by ordering them through my local health food store where they arrived on a refrigeration truck with no extra shipping. Also the whey can be made from any plain, organic yogurt. Just drain it through a two-ply cheese cloth. Best of luck!

      • Breast feeding would be the best option instead of making your own baby formula…….why would you go to extreme trouble of making formula when best nutritional content would be found in breast milk. There is even breast milk now available to purchase.

    • Hello,

      Just my two cents, I have 6 children. My youngest was premature and (for many reasons) the only one I was unable to nurse. I fed her the WP homemade formula with RAW milk. She is 2.5 yrs now. I have been so grateful to find a recipe that was beneficial to her health. She is strong, intelligent, and very physically adept.

      I also feel that when making the formula and adding probiotics and coconut oil, it may help lessen negative bacteria that may be present in the milk.

      Good luck!

      • Ondreea, your experience is not uncommon, and I too have been very grateful for the wonderful WP formula recipe. My baby just turned 3 and she’s so healthy. I know many babies who have thrived on raw milk formula, even with milk obtained from farms without science-based safety standards. I’m glad that was your experience.

        But knowing what I do as a raw milk farmer, I would be remiss not to point out that any raw milk fit for human consumption, and particularly for consumption by infants, should never contain “negative” bacteria. Pathogens like E coli 0157h7 or Campylobacter orginate in cow feces. Raw milk produced under sanitary conditions should should not contain these pathogens. If you are concerned that your raw milk may contain pathogens, please do not count on coconut oil or probiotics to remedy the problem. E coli 0157h7, while rare, is very, very virulent. As few as 10 micro-organisms can result in an illness.

        There is no excuse for raw milk containing “negative” bacteria. Raw milk must be produced in a way that avoids contamination through clean farm conditions and santitary milk collection processes. It must be cooled to under 40 degrees in less than an hour and kept cold. And farmers need to be monitoring their sanitation plan regularly with coliform and SPC milk testing, and be able to discuss their risk managment plan with customers.

    • Almost all infant mammals, including humans, will thrive on goat’s milk. Easier, and probably safer, than trying to make your own formula. 🙂

      • Hello, Anna. I used goats milk for both my other kids after breast feeding for 1.3/5 years. I am led to believe it does not contain enough fat or in some way is not ideal for children.

  7. I was wondering if anyone knows if you can use pasteurized milk and turn it into just as healthy a milk as raw milk by making it into kefir?

  8. To any of you naysayers of raw milk – NEWSFLASH: there is fabulous a new thing we all have now called “Refrigeration”!

    The simple fact is, ALL fresh foods (milk, meat, poultry, fish) contain a certain amount of harmful pathogens. The two things that keep these pathogens in check (and from killing us) are proper food handling and refrigeration. Keeping these foods below 40 degrees F (35F optimum) keeps the pathogens from multiplying to the extent that our bodies can not fight them off naturally.

    And remember this – Pasteurization was invented long before the advent of refrigeration. So yes, in its time, is was CRITICAL that dairy products be pasteurized! Today, milk is processed cold, shipped cold, stored cold, and served cold. The minute amount pathogens (E coli or otherwise) have no chance to reproduce unless you are being completely careless about your handling/sanitation practices…..in which case your chicken or fish has just as much chance of causing harm as does your milk, pasteurized or not.

    My wife and I have been using locally made raw milk for over 3 years now, and I can’t say enough good things about it. We tell everyone we know: if you have access to it, give it a shot. You may never go back!

    As far as the dangers, as I and others have pointed out, if handled properly, you basically have a better chance of being stuck by lightening…….twice, than you do drinking raw milk. You actually have a much better chance (million times more) of getting sick from a hamburger or even produce that hasn’t been handled properly.


  9. Does culturing the raw milk with kefir grains eliminate some of the risks with e-coli and hus?
    A 3 year old recently died in australua from getting hus through drinking raw milk?

    • To Johanna and anyone worried about E coli infection, taking cranberry products helps prevent and/or treat E coli infections in the intestines, bladder and breast by breaking the bonds that attach E coli to the membranes in these organs.
      My friend’s little boy got a virulent form of Ecoli from eating a hamburger and had severe diarrhea. She gave him cranberry juice (contrary to doctor’s orders) and within two hours he started getting better.
      Of course, it is best to choose products that are cranberry rich and not just flavored sugar.

      • Are you actually that irresponsible of a person that you would go so far as to lie and risk a child’s life? Wow! If the child you are talking about actually had E. Coli infection with severe diarrhea, the kid would have been hospitalized. You do realize that this stuff KILLS children, don’t you? Cranberry juice will not kill E. Coli infection. Stop spreading this made up crap because you overheard some quack say something about it Denny’s!

      • Thank you for allowing me to clarify. I would definitely recommend taking cranberry as a preventative measure, to prevent an E. coli infection, along with good sanitation.

        It is important to seek medical help with severe diarrhea or any other illness. Many people have recovered at the hospital from food borne E coli infections.

        My friend had taken her boy to the hospital and he was admitted and treated for E coli infection (from tainted hamburger at a restaurant) but after three days was failing fast. She received a strong impression to give him cranberry juice and he recovered very quickly after that. I did not know about this incident until after the fact. Cranberry worked for the strain he had, but definitely wouldn’t work for everyone.

        BTW Produce and red meat cause more cases of HUR than dairy.

    • Hi – I live in Australia and have been reading the same reports regarding the young child’s tragic death upon drinking raw milk. I drink raw milk kerfir on a daily basis. In answer to your question re kefir killing e coli bacteria, please see this research article which suggest that Kefir kills the e coli bacteria. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10716566.
      This report states: “Fermented milk obtained with 10 g per 100 ml of inoculum … had inhibitory power demonstrated by spot test…” However, there is a research article from Turkey (a country which drinks a lot of Kefir) which states “According to the findings, E. coli O157:H7, S. typhimurium, and S. aureus can survive in kefir during fermentation.” http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/00307.pdf. It seems there is no conclusive evidence. (PS I’m not a medical expert nor a scientist). Frankie

    • It is easy to say milk was the reason for the death of the three year old. Raw milk has natural anti-bodies. I spoke with my organic dairy farmer yesterday about this supposed death by milk and he said it’s a bunch of baloney. No one has ever gotten sick from his milk. He told me it used to be the law here in Michigan that it was illegal to pasteurize milk by dairy farmers.
      He also said that pasteurization does not kill off all the bacteria in milk and that more people get sick by pasteurized milk than non-pasteurized.

  10. Does culturing the raw milk with kefir grains eliminate some of the risks with e-coli and uhs?
    A 3 year old recently died in australua from getting uhs through drinking raw milk?

  11. I only have one thing to say. If raw milk should not be consumed by children under 4, pregnant women, the elderly as well as those with poor immune systems, well, i think it should not be consumed by any human. Why take the chance? Sounds to me like it is not a safe bet. I should add that my husband grew up on a farm where that is all they drank and I, also, consumed it at times with no harmful effect but I would not drink it today. The warnings alone about who should not drink it, to me acknowledges that there is a possible danger which I am not willing to take.

  12. I am currently being treated for leaky gut by a chiropractor who uses Apex and Metagenic products. I have done GAPS diet for last 5 years, Weston Price for 7 years, drank raw milk from A2 Fermented Kefir for 7 years.

    Yet this chiropractor believes that even fermented raw milk must not be in my diet for at least six months. Something to do with not just lactose and casein but something akin to causing a gluten sensitivity.

    This pisses me off and I don’t believe that this wonderful A2 Grass fed raw dairy from Jersey cows is causing a gluten problem. I believe it is giving me Vit K2 and a whole lot of other good stuff that my body needs and aids in the healing of leaky gut. I make the raw butter which is awesome.

    Could you comment on this tendency of nutritionists to exclude ALL milk including A2 fermented grass fed dairy from people attempting to heal leaky gut.

    It’s ironic that they don’t want me to have this high quality fermented raw A2 dairy, but some of the Apex products have antioxidant supplements in them, they want you to take way too much Vit D (15,000 IU’s with rosemary oil antioxidant ), coQ10 with something like canola oil of all things in it. The thinking here is schizophrenic. I need someone to explain this craziness to me.

    I had a TBI and my cranial bones and neck bones have been seriously jammed for years. Just now a fantastic korean acupuncturist is actually getting me back to normal. Everytime I go to the chiropractor for treatment, my body shuts down and it sets me back a week. So now I just go to the acupuncturist and I am finally making progress.

    Just maybe the jammed cranial bones have more to do with the liver and gut problems than the raw milk. In fact, raw milk has saved me I think. If the raw milk was so bad for me, how did I heal periodontal disease and have no cavities for the last five years?

    Thank you so much.

    • I did some more research online about milk issues and Chris Kresser does recommend removing milk while trying to heal leaky gut. So I am OK with that now. I do have issues with the level of Vit D supplementation and I won’t take any antioxidant supplements, after what I have read recently.

    • The problem in the first place is going to a Chiropractor for nutritional advice. Chiropractors have less nutrition training than medical doctors. Just because he probably went to a weekend seminar (like most of them do) does not qualify him as a properly credentialed or knowledgeable nutritionist. Many of them will put a bottle of vitamins on your stomach and then “pull you leg” (literally!) and tell you if you are deficient. Nutrition Response Testing is really big with Chiropractors these days.

    • My chiropractor messed me up in three months, and over manipulated me and it has set me back more than a week…Two years now. And his “plan” and supplements are not effective and I feel a gimmick. The supplements contain all kinds of junk. I do believe in chiropractic, but not the “wellness” ones that are out there today. I went to one on and off for 11 years and had no problems, but he died. It’s hard to know who to trust. You know your body better than anyone and though you can believe in them, you have to think for yourself. If raw milk is helping, continue. I’m glad you have improved with acupuncture. ..maybe I should try that.

  13. I am trying to find a local farm that sells grass-fed whole milk. It seems that many farms which have their cows grassfed also still feed GMO corn and soy as they believe it is needed for the health of the cow and to produce enough milk for the population without using any hormones or antibiotics. What are your thoughts? My son cannot drink any nut milks so I am looking for vat -pastuerized whole milk in NC. Homeland Creamery sells grassfed milk but 60% of the cows diet is GMO corn and soy, they say it does not make a difference to the quality and infact believe that the quality of their milk is better than organic and even people with lactose intolerance can drink their milk.

    • They will say that because they want to sell their product. I don’t understand why any company will make 30-50% effort, when they could just do it 100%. Homeland creamery also puts carageenan in their ice cream and probably says that’s okay also. Anything with gmo or soy can’t possibly be better than organic. I just quit dairy except occassional kerrygold butter…even though it does contain a small percentage of gmo, because I’m tired of the games and struggle and my gut is happier. You can get raw pet milk in NC, but that’s it.

  14. Hi Jessie,
    I have read that goat milk is missing certain key elements needed for humans. It is best to just use cow’s milk. Read more here: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/is-goat-milk-healthier-than-cow-milk/
    If you make home-made kefir, I doubt you’d have any problem with TB or E.coli. The little critters in Kefir are like an army and the bad critters are like the Taliban. Taliban loses.

    Kefir will eat of the lactose in the milk so it won’t bother you.

    Kefir will put very good active cultures in your babie’s colon helping him to digest things and should help keep infections down by giving him a stronger constitution. You can get Kefir grains on ebay pretty cheap.
    Read more about Kefir here: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/sep/15/health/he-nutrition15

  15. Hi.. I would like to start my 14 month old on unpasteurized goats milk. I am lactose intolerant so I don’t want to give him cow or pasteurized milk. He was a premature baby and has had 4 (medium not severe) chest infections in the last year. He is otherwise healthy but the doctors informed me that his immune system may be a little behind other babies. I am a bit concerned about the harmful bacteria esp TB and E.coli. Would it be safe to give him unpasteurized goats milk by boiling it for 2 to 3 minutes.?

  16. Also, if you are even a little hesitant to drink raw milk, make your own Kefir by purchasing some Kefir grains for milk on Ebay. I make it every day. Just don’t over-ferment it or it gets too strong tasting. But Kefir is like an army that searches and destroys harmful bacteria and pre-digests the lactose (for you lactose intollerant people) and proteins and you get all the friendly bacteria!

    Do you know why all the galaxies are moving away from our galaxy?
    They are lactose intolerant! LOL get it? Milky Way galaxy?

  17. My dairy farmer feeds only organically raised hay and lets them free range grass feed as well. When the State and Fed inspectors come and do all their checks, his operation is excellent. They tell him some of the pasteurized milk producers have increddible filthiness and they wouldn’t ever drink from their dairy.
    It’s a fact that pasteurization does not kill all the bacteria in the milk and since the milk is dead from over heating what little bacteria is left can rapidly multiply. Way more people get sick from pasteurized milk than raw.

  18. I have been drinking it for years with no issues. I think the risks are way exaggerated. I know tons of people who drink it with no issues. I would be way more concerned about all the other junk we eat than a food that has long been a staple in people’s diets.

    • Tony, thanks for the link. I guess I don’t know enough info to be able to interpret it, though. It talks about growth rate over an hour’s time.

      Are we wanting to consume bacteria that are growing? Like most of us I consume my cup in well under an hour. So I don’t know what to conclude from the info.


  19. For anyone worried about getting sick from E. coli from ANY food source (ie beef, produce, or milk), take cranberry tablets or even cranberry juice with meals. Cranberry breaks the pili that connect the E coli bacterium to any membrane in the body ( in the intestine, breast, or bladder), making it impossible for E. coli to cause disease. My friend’s son had a very serious E coli infection after eating a hamburger, and she gave him some cranberry and he started getting better in a couple of hours!

  20. Elisabeth, one thing I was ask the farmer is: Do they clean the udders prior to taking the milk? And do they express a little milk after cleaning the udder to clean out the channel where the milk is expressed?

    Also, for those who want to make their own KEFIR I purchased my kefir grains on e-bay. You start off with a little batch of grains. Put this in a little milk (preferable warmed up a little to around 72 degrees since you don’t want to shock the kefir grains). Put a towel over the the glass of milk for a couple days. Strain out the kefir grains and use them again. Drink the kefir milk already made.
    Over a couple weeks of doing this you will have more and more kefir grains and can make quart size kefir milk.

    Once I left kefir grains in milk in my fridge for about three or four months. I opened it up and it did not have a bad smell. But I still didn’t drink it but just washed the grains off and started making kefir again.

  21. I have a question concerning raw milk. I think it would be ideal if we had raw milk from someone who hand milked their cows. Of course this is not possible with a herd (one would get carpal tunnel syndrome) but what about raw milk that farm that uses the milkers that take the milk into tubes and run the milk into a holding tank? Is that raw milk as safe? I’m sure they have to clean out their hoses and tank each time but that just is one more think that can go wrong if not cleaned properly. What do you think?

    By the way, I used to drink raw goat milk and now found a raw cow milk farmer.

  22. I was hoping you’d include some guidelines on what to select for, when choosing a source of raw milk. I’m talking about the practices and environment of the farm, hygiene in particular – hygiene while milking, but also of the cows’ living conditions in general. My friend works in dairy – she used to milk the two cows on a small, raw milk-producing farm (I drank the milk she brought home); now she’s a dairy tester, and visits commercial dairies (small and large) to test milk samples. Having experience in different settings on both sides – raw and commerical – she tells me that while she does love raw milk, she’s also seen raw milk sources she would not touch. If she were to visit a farm in person, she would know right away – she knows what to look for. But for laymen that knowledge isn’t obvious. I’m wondering if you can provide any perspective on this facet of the decision-making process.

  23. Chris,
    I am wondering specifically about how long dairy is processed in the body, or how long before it leaves the system? Is raw milk/cheese faster than pasteurized?
    I ask because I am wondering if I will be able to have a little when I start breastfeeding. My husband wants me to keep dairy out of my baby’s system and I am looking for a way to have my cheese and eat it too, so to speak. I wonder if “pumping and dumping” is good enough and if so, for how long. I have been off dairy since learning I was pregnant about a month ago and am now in my 10th week. I am trying to get these answers to benefit me and possibly other inquiring minds: http://www.primalandpregnant.com

    • I took a look at your blog, your food looks yummy, but I think you may be obsessing a bit much over what you eat. The whole ‘pump and dump’ theory you have if you ingest anything you think would harm the baby seems a bit ridiculous. You would have absolutely no way of knowing how long the dairy proteins are in your system, and do you really want to throw away that much breastmilk? Most breastfeeding Moms consider it liquid gold. If you do decide to pump and dump over caffeine or dairy , I hope you would at least consider donating. But I really think you should reconsider your stance on this. Unless your baby turns out to be intolerant of dairy protein, its not going to harm him/her. Just breastfeeding alone is a wonderful thing to provide no matter if you’ve consumed some dairy or coffee or chocolate. There is also no proof that avoiding dairy is going to provide any benefit to the baby during pregnancy.

      • Janelle,
        I do respect your opinion and your take on my “ridiculous” view on pumping and dumping. Pumping and dumping is not my theory. It is something I have heard of and am looking to do more research on. You make some good points and donating my milk is something I have considered. I have my views on dairy consumption and they go way beyond just breast feeding. You said, “no proof that avoiding dairy is going to provide any benefit to the baby during pregnancy.” OK but here is also no proof that consuming dairy will not harm the baby. With that being said, my question was directed at Dr. Chris Kresser, as his opinion and knowledge on the subject is what I was looking for. Thank you.

        • As a breastfeeding mom who is sensitive to dairy and 3 sons that have reacted to dairy I consumed while breastfeeding, my advice is to just avoid it until babies are weaned. I have never tolerated dairy so I don’t consume much. When I have had occasional ice cream or yogurt, my boys had any of the following: abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, butt rash & blisters, eczema over 2/3 of body, asthma & bronchospasm. I wouldn’t risk guessing the appropriate window to pump. Also, any milk that may remain may be absorbed into your lymph system, the offending proteins start their circuit through your system over again.

          • Thanks Lp.
            I’m probably just going to avoid it, even though I was imagining a piece of Dubliner sharp cheddar in my mouth today… I could almost taste it!
            I am still curious however, about raw cheese/milk as opposed to pasteurized and if each is processed differently in the body, etc….

            • Me too! Is the problem pasteurization? Is it the cow’s diet? Is it cow’s milk altogether. I do know the milk available in Michigan grocery stores is OUT for my family. I don’t want to use my kids as guinea pigs to test all the variables. I am considering raw goat’s milk for yogurt, kefir, & maybe cheese.

              • Many would say pasteurization is the problem. Some would say the grain fed diet. Some would say it is both. raw, grass fed w/o synthetic pesticides would be ideal.
                You may want to google Weston A. Price raw milk, you will find a lot information and other blogs that could answer your questions.
                Best wishes.

                • Thanks for the tip. I do have access to grass-fed milk, and haven’t seen raw yet. I could probably find some if I look hard enough in my area. For the sake of not exposing my fetus now or baby later during breastfeeding…. I will unfortunately have to abstain from beloved dairy products.

        • I’m not trying to tell you what to do, and yes I hope Chris will answer your question, but I find it hard to believe that he would say any little amount of dairy is going to harm your baby prenatally and during breastfeeding. From my research as a breastfeeding Mom I found that its a problem in the Mom’s gut, where the dairy proteins are passing into the bloodstream not broken down, a ‘leaky’ gut. This would explain why so many babies nowadays have issues because of the epidemic of hypothyroidism and subsequent digestion problems with leakiness of the gut wall. There are also issues on a low carb diet because it lowers thyroid hormone and increases chances of being sensitive to many different foods. Check out Dr. Ray Peat’s research. It is not the dairy thats a problem.
          Also some would say boiling the milk breaks the protein down and would help not let the protein pass through undigested. Some take digestive enzymes to further assist in the breakdown. Others give probiotics to the baby because it could be a lack of good bacteria (from c-sections, mom’s bad gut, etc.), lots of people have good success for eczema with probiotics.

          • I get what you’re saying but I am coming from a standpoint that dairy is good for no one. We are the only mammal that drinks another mammals milk. Doesn’t that seem odd to you? I just eat dairy because I am in love with it. That doesn’t make it at all something I should be doing. The fact that so many people have issues with dairy should also tell us something. It doesn’t really matter what precautionary measures we take to make it more digestible. I am still just hoping to not introduce it to my baby until I plan to intentionally. If there was a way for me to eat/drink it and have it totally blocked from moving into my fetus, I would take it because again, I love my dairy. This is the only time in my child’s life that I will ever have absolute control over what he/she eats.

            • Hypothyroidism of not always a product of how you breastfeed your baby. It can be a case of metabolic syndrome that gets it going, gluten intolerance, and the modern sugary diet.

              Dairy is fine. Even good if its raw milk. If you have leaky gut then the raw milk will help it get better. People with lactose intolerance can drink raw milk.

              there was a study where they feed raw milk to prison inmates from a prison dairyfarm. This farm was inspected. the hygiene was appalling. The floors were covered in excrement, and the animals were not clean. They extracted the RAW milk from the cows. They separated out all the excrement and other unwanted things, they did not pasteurize a thing. They fed the milk to the inmates. No one got sick.
              Raw milk has the bacteria that are beneficial to us, and they are still alive. Pasteurized milk had had them killed. The milk cant protect itself from invaders. shite huh? Most of the outbreaks of illness have been from…pasteurized milk!! Cause those little awesome bacterias that not only protect us from leaky gut, bowel cancer, and boost our immune systems, are dead.

              We are a species that drinks other species milk. But what do they do with orphan baby rhinos who has lost their mother? Well… they introduce it to a mother elephant…. and… it suckles. Naturally no, other species dont tend to drink different species’ milk. It has been on this forum that milk and dairy is a relatively new addition to our diets. That doesnt mean it isnt good. We eat other animals, and other animals eat other animals. You can get a helluva lot more diseases from animal MEAT than you can from milk.

              So, instead of dairy milk, what are you drinking instead to get calcium for your baby’s development? I hope its not soy milk. Thats really not good for your baby. Look at your micronutrient (vitamins and minerals-calcium, sodium, zinc, magnesium etc) and macronutrient (fat, protein, carbs) intakes and see if you are getting enough of those. Not to mention vitamin D as that helps calcium absorption. Dont just take a calcium citrate supplement, that is not readily absorbed and you are much better off consuming foods with calcium in them.

              Best of luck,

              • I follow a primal diet. I eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, very little starch and no sugar. I do not consume grains, dairy or legumes (including soy). See my blog to find out what I have been eating for my baby: http://www.primalandpregnant.com
                I eat plenty of vegetables that contain calcium. I also take vitamin D every morning as well as fish oil and a prenatal multivitamin that I found to be the best choice. I doubt there are many pregnant women who actually eat wilted greens every morning with their breakfast just for the sake of nutrition. So, you tell me…. does it really seem like I am not getting enough of the right vitamins and minerals? Again, with the dairy, it is an added element that is not necessary. It is just something I wish I could have.

            • I was dairy’s number 1 fan, and i liked any food with my cheese, if you understand, and I quit all but a little Kerrygold and occassiinal grated parmesan every now and then. I just decided and I did it and that was 4 years ago. I can’t say I have had that kind of success quitting other things, but my gut was happier and I’m glad I did it and didn’t seem to miss all the cheese and ice cream and milk like I thought I would. It’s a mental thing.

  24. Hey Chris, I am wondering about whether on can get tuberculosis from raw milk or milk in general, and also what about the prions that cause Creutzfeld-Jacob disease? Can we get those from raw milk or milk in general? I have been looking through this on the net and not found any definitive answers.


    • Cattle can carry a disease called brucellosis, that is similar to tb. It is no longer common in the US. It was one of the reasons people started pasteurizing milk.

      • Hey thanks Karl, because its a strain of tb from the bovine species line perhaps it is not as likely to affect us humans? Im more worried about the vCJD because those are spectacularly resistant to anything killing them and im not getting a definitive answer on the net about it. There were some articles saying that there was sheep prions found in sheep milk, but nothing in particular on cows.
        Ive been wondering similarly about meat (even our grass fed paleo beef, lamb etc) but thats for another thread!


        • My personal opinion is that if you are eating animals that are being raised on their natural foods and are not treated with crazy drugs and pesticides you have little to worry about in terms of vCJD.
          People can get brucellosis but it is easy to test for in animals so most farmers would not keep an animal that tests positive.

  25. I know the farm that got e. coli in their cows. They were a clean and perfect farm and did everything right. After watching them stay in a hospital for over a month to nurse their daughter back to health, we decided to take our own kids off of raw milk until they are older. My spouse and I continue to drink it but now only give low-temp past. milk to our kids.

    My ancestors used dairy cows but food was also scarce in those days. There were times that milk was the only food source and during that time the benefits outweighed the risks. And there were times water was not available so milk was needed. They also did not have the super bacterias that we now have today that survive almost anywhere. At this time, we already do so many other low risk things such as free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, pork and lamb that there really is no reason to push raw milk on our kids. We have a clean water source from our well and they already get so many other benefits from other foods that are just as healthy.

    I still think the raw milk risks are super low but I won’t risk my own children’s life over a few benefits that they really do not need in this food rich country. But I do respect other people’s choices to continue to do so and have friends that continue to give their babies raw milk.

  26. All the scientific information provided here has made it very difficult for me to decide whether I want to try raw milk for the taste and nutritional qualities or just continue avoiding all cows milk as much as possible.
    After considering everything in Chris’ articles and all the informative comments left by everyone, my mind always goes back to the argument against all dairy consumption due to the fact that no species other than humans consumes milk from another species. Milk is produced by mothers to nourish their young up until a certain time during their growth. My mind concludes then, that whilst cows milk is tasty and can be very nourishing, it is not necessary or essential for humans to consume it.
    Having said that, if I found a reliable and ethical source of raw cows milk I would not hesitate to try it. The risk of becoming ill from it is extremely low in my opinion, and I’d love to see how much better raw milk tastes.

  27. The Canadian study I linked to above noted that pasteurisation inactivated the lactoferrin in human milk [along with many other immunilogical agents]

    Lactoferrin is an iron binding protein – it helps to prevents infection from getting at the body’s iron supplies, and is also a stimulant for bone growth, and protects against bone re-sorption into the body
    [Lactoferrin- a novel bone growth factor]

    lactoferrin has also been found to have protective effects against herpes, malaria, influenza, hepatitis and so on (google “bovine lactoferrin virus” and you’ll get the idea.)

    This is just one example of the protective properties of raw milk that is destroyed by heat. In effect, it turns milk from a therapeutic agent, into just another food. Pasteurisation may kill contaminating pathogens, but it is also destroying some of natures finest natural medicines.

    Instead of banning raw milk, we should be working on ways to make it safer and prevent contamination in the first place. That is how we do it with shellfish.

    • Wow, all great information Paul N. Thanks so much for providing it. You’ve expanded the information available here a lot supporting use of raw milk.

    • Thanks Paul for all the great information! I wholeheartedly agree that it is the practice that needs work. Why is it that rather than do it right and keep it clean we would allow what we consume to be produced in a filthy manner and then try to clean it up afterwards? Unfortunately the dairy industry is not exclusive in it’s filthy habits. The more I look into poultry production the less I want to eat it. If you don’t really want to know don’t start looking into it. You just might change what protein sources you choose to feed your families.

      • If you search for clinical studies comparing raw (cows) milk with pasteurised, most of them seem to be in the period 1900-1950, when pasteurisation was not mandatory. Not surprisingly, no research institutions, (and certainly not the dairy industry) are willing to fund such studies today, which is a shame, as with modern medical technology, we could find out a lot more about the differences.

        However, there is a *large* body of work that has been done recently, on human milk, relating to methods of storing and using it in hospitals.
        This paper from the Lancet, for example, found that;
        “Supplementary formula feeds inhibited the protective effect of expressed raw and pasteurised human milk in 226 high-risk neonates in a randomised controlled trial. The infection rate in the group given pasteurised human milk and formula (33%) was significantly higher than the rates in the groups given raw human milk (10·5%), pasteurised human milk (14·3%), and raw human milk and formula (16%). This accords with the impressions that some of the association of infection with artificial feeding is partly attributable to the lack of the protective effect of human milk. Heating expressed human milk to 62·5°C for 30 min significantly reduces its protective effect.”

        Or this one;
        “This study compared concentrations of total protein, lysozyme, and immunoglobulins (IgA, IgG, IgM) in samples of colostrum (n = 101) obtained from mothers of infants < 32 weeks, 32 to 366 7 weeks, and ≥ 37 weeks gestational age, both before and after pasteurization….
        …Pasteurization *significantly decreased* all of the factors analyzed."

        [emphasis mine]

        And another;
        “Analysis indicated a high degree of contamination in raw human milk, and as for the pasteurized milk, despite elimination of the great majority of potentially pathogenic microorganisms, the percentage of *yeasts and molds* was higher than in raw milk, demonstrating that a lower degree of initial contamination would be necessary for pasteurization to be an efficient means of microbiological control.”

        There is study after study on human milk showing that pasteurisation reduces/destroys all sorts of beneficial properties, and we can likely extrapolate these findings to animal milks too.

        There is one legal source of raw milk products you can buy – aged cheeses. 60 day+ cheese can be made from raw milk and some of them do say “unpasteurised milk” on their ingredients – I look for this on any cheese I buy.

  28. I see all this talk about concern about pathogenic bacterias found in raw milk. Raw CERTIFIED milk is much more safe to consume than any pasteurized milk is. The certification process is stringent and only a very diligent farm would pass this process. Read up on all of the people who have been poisoned by pasteurized milk. Dairy farms are inherently filthy and little effort is expended to make it any better with the assumption that the pasteurization is going to kill all bacteria present in the milk. What about the tank the milk is stored in? Can the milk which has been deemed “safe” become contaminated after it is pasteurized? Of course it can and does, do some research. I did and was appalled at what I learned about “safe” pasteurized milk. I will take my chances with our raw certified milk we get here from a local dairy farm. BTW my son has a rare autoimmune problem in which he was attacking his own GI tract and does very well on raw milk. His MD was quite skeptical about it at first but is accepting of our decision after she too did her research.

    • Mary wrote;
      “Can the milk which has been deemed “safe” become contaminated after it is pasteurized?”

      Not only can it become contaminated, but boiled (high temp pasteurised) milk is an *ideal* bacterial growth medium. It was widely used in labs up until about the 1950’s for this purpose.

      here’s and abstract from a 1929 paper comparing medium and high heat pasteurisation;

      “It is well known that fresh milk or milk heated at 58° or 60°C. for 20 minutes will inhibit the growth of a variety of organisms, while when milk is heated at a temperature of 80°C. or more the inhibitory principle is destroyed. That different streptococci behave differently when introduced into the same milk is brought out by the following observation: The growth of the nonhemolytic mastitis streptococ- cus is inhibited during the first 6 or 8 hours following inoculation and then growth begins and continues rapidly; but scarlet fever streptococci implanted in portions of the same milk gradually diminish in numbers until the milk finally becomes sterile. Both organisms grow readily in milk that has been boiled for 5 minutes.

      {emphasis mine}.

      Here is a quote from a Canadian study about hospital banking of human breast milk, in regard to pasteurisation;

      “There are effects on immunological factors (40). Along with inactivation of all viruses and most bacteria through pasteurization, all beneficial immune cells are also inactivated. Secretory immunoglobulin (Ig) A, which binds microbes within the digestive tract, is found at 67% to 100% of its original activity. Targeted IgG antibodies are reduced at 66% to 70%. IgM antibodies are completely removed. Lactoferrin, which binds iron required by many bacteria, thus reducing their growth, is reduced to 20% (41) of its original level. Lysozyme enzyme, which attacks bacterial cell walls, drops to 75% activity. A reduction in certain cytokines by pasteurization permits an expanded function of epidermal growth factor, which may lead to increased growth of intestinal epithelial cells exposed to pasteurized human donor breast milk (42).”

      I expect results on cows milk would be fairly similar.

      So, as a general rule, pasteurisation kills most pathogens that may be in the milk, but, especially with higher heat methods, also destroys the natural defences, making it *very* susceptible to re-infection.

      Though I don’t have any evidence on this, its probably likely that industrially produced milk from grain fed cows is less “self protective” than that from grass fed cows, and thus in greater need of pasteurisation.

      And this from someone that grew up on grass fed, raw milk, milked by my own hands. My siblings and I never got sick (winter colds, etc) and had the healthiest teeth of anyone in our extended family or school – just one cavity between all three.

  29. We switched to raw milk about four years ago for the nutritional benefits and were so pleased with the luscious taste that it is now very hard to drink “store milk” at all. Although I am not lactose intolerant I was pleasantly surprised when my dentist commented on my panoramic xrays that he had never seen a patient with such clear sinuses. It dawned on me that I had not had any sinus issues since switching to raw milk. My neighbor switched to raw milk and discovered her seasonal allergies went away. When she had to stop raw milk for awhile due to financial issues she found they came back with a vengeance and she is now back to the raw milk and feeling much better again.

  30. I’m 83 and have been drinking raw milk–half from grass-fed cows, half from alfalfa fed–for 14 years. Wish I could say it’s made a big health difference in my life, but the fact is that I’m no more healthy than I was when I was 69 because I’ve never had any of those health problems that seem to afflict many who benefit from drinking raw milk. The fact is, I just like the stuff. Anybody who says there isn’t a taste difference doesn’t have good taste buds. The unanswerable question, of course, is what would have been my health state if I hadn’t started drinking raw milk. bobd

  31. I would like a clarification on numbers. In your raw milk serious I’ve seen two different risk findings. One artlcle stated a risk of becoming seriously ill from drinking raw milk to be 1 in 6 million and the other article said one in 1 million. Have I misunderstood something in one case or the other? Thanks so much for all that you do!

  32. I am still hesitant about giving my child raw milk and I can’t find any low temperature pasteurization sellers in Utah. So I decided to low temp pasteurize raw milk myself. I was just wondering how different low vs high is to decide if it even worth it. How much nutrient content is lost. Are the enzymes destroyed.

  33. My sister, age 87, and I have been drinking raw milk since 1950, when our parents moved to California and learned about raw milk from Weston A. Price literature. My sister is still on a bowling league with me. Neither of us have spent time in a hospital or take any prescriptions or medications. We both feel particularly good after drinking kefir I make from raw milk. My children grew up on raw milk, and my grandchildren drink raw milk. This covers a lot of years for its safety.

    • That’s amazing! Being strong and healthy at 87 is no small feat and certainly isn’t the norm. I think your comment is actually one of the best and supports the truth. There’s too much silliness and uninformed scare tactics surrounding raw milk. It always amazes me that those with the most rage against raw milk don’t even bother with it and don’t want anyone else to either. You go girls!!!!

  34. What are good alternatives for young infants and kids to drink then? Just water??

    Any suggestions would be great!!!

    • Dennis,
      I humbly suggest that water is the only natural beverage, and is therefore the only one any of us should drink for optimal health. Nourishment can be obtained from foods. Water is for hydration. I feel teaching children to consume beverages other than water is like giving them sugar. It is starting them on un-health at the beginning of their lives. Just my point of view as I approach 70 and hope I haven’t killed my chances of reaching 100 or 120 because of horrible food habits that no one taught me to avoid when I was young.
      I hardly touched water until I was 20 years old. I always drank milk when I was thirsty, just because it was in the refrigerator and it had a better taste than water. I’m sure I hurt my health by doing this, as I was always mildly lacto-intolerant. How many children will be in this same condition and their parents won’t know the disservice they are doing to encourage milk drinking?
      I support people’s right to buy and consume raw milk because they shouldn’t have that liberty taken away, but I don’t really think it’s necessary for life, or even an ideal way to get liquids or any of the nutrients needed to flourish.
      Just my point of view. Elsewhere I have responded with some information on why kefir may be a preferred method for taking in raw milk. That is provided for those who are sold on using raw milk products and want some help in deciding if raw milk is safe, and if kefir might even be safer. That contribution was mostly information. This one is just viewpoint. Just trying to be helpful in both cases. There are a lot of ways to look at every issue. Let’s do it. It’s beneficial, just as introducing certain strains of bacteria into our gut is beneficial. But if no body every looked at the beneficial side of bacteria, we could never possibly be as healthy as we can be once we consider that alternative.

  35. I really enjoy raw milk, especially kefir and whipped cream. May I laugh at the tiny risk, please?

    I guess as a sixty year old mountain and ski guide that has been to more than a few funerals for collegues, I have a different perspective. One misses out on a lot of life when focused on avoiding risk. “In the long run we are all dead.”, Keynes.

  36. I also want to add that the risk SEEMS insignificant until it happens to you. Then suddenly it isn’t so insignificant, lol. That said, I am all for freedom of choice and support the raw milk producers and everyone’s right to choose for themselves.

  37. I think my reply to your 2nd post should have gone on this one! After getting sick from raw milk, we have compromised by drinking milk from a small, local dairy with grass-fed cows that uses vat pasteurization. They do homogenize, unfortunately. I wish I could find a similar source that doesn’t. But for now, I’m comfortable with this choice.

    Again, thanks for this series. Well done.

  38. One of the things I rarely see in this discussion about the safety of food is what is the actual cause of HUS. As far as I understand the toxins in E. coli 0157:H7 are released upon death of the bacteria. So common situation is someone goes into the doctor for stomach problems and gets an antibiotic that kills the ecoli releasing large amounts of toxin into the blood and overwhelming the kidneys. So to me it is the doctors who are responsible because of mistreatment because they fail to do a culture and see what the cause is. This is why you see more serious problems in the beginning of an outbreak before the doctors start following proper protocal. There should be a holistic scientific approach to treating ecoli infection and we would not have to blame our food. Of course the real problem probably lies in the lack of good bacteria in the gut.

    • Karl. This line of reasoning makes me very angry with fanatic pro-raw milk people. please do not spread this misinformation around any longer. If children who are genuinely sickened with HUS causing ecoli, they would most likely die of kidney failure. Then raw milk fanatics could no longer claim no death from raw milk. It is exactly because of life saving emergency medicine that these HUS children are alive.


      • I meant to say that if children who are genuinely sickened with ecoli 0157:H7 and go on to develop HUS were treated with HOLISTIC medicine, they would die rapidly. They are usually saved by dialysis and other lifesaving emergency procedures.

        • Kristen, people making comments here about E.coli 0157:H7 and HUS don’t have a clue what they are talking about. The death rate has been lowered for this horrible disease because modern medicine has had about 20 years to figure out how to support the human body as the Shiga toxin does it damage. Extreme support is the use of a ventilator. The child is placed in a medially induced state of sleep. This is done by the use of Versed and Morphine. (My child was like this for 9 days. A little girl in the recent raw milk outbreak in Oregon went for 25 days). It is similar to a coma, but the child can hear you and respond by nodding. This is done so that the child’s body doesn’t have to work so hard. In severe cases of HUS, it takes a lot of energy to breath and when the fluid builds up in the body, it puts a huge strain on the body, especially the heart. Medical support also involves kidney dialysis, blood and plasma transfusions and IV feeding. A child may not die, but strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, seizures, removal of colons and gallbladders are not fun stuff. The post HUS child may be alive, but will never resemble the child you had before.
          Go back a read all the comments in this series. People are making the decision to feed their children raw milk because they think it is a healthier option. There is no other food source that makes the claims of curing all that ails you by consuming it. This product is also marketed to parents of children in high risk categories: autism, ADD, allergies and asthma.
          I encourage everyone consuming raw milk to do a little research on all the different pathogens that can find their way into raw milk. Do you know all the pathogens and animal diseases that can be passed on through raw milk? Can you name all the illnesses these pathogens can cause?
          Other high risk foods typically are vulnerable to one type of pathogen. For example, deli meats become contaminated with listeria, beef with E.coli 0157:H7, and chicken, turkey and eggs with salmonella. Raw milk is vulnerable to multiple pathogens because multiple pathogens are in cow poop.
          Chris had an interesting presentation of the statistics. It is fraught with many flaws. I can tell you first experience that you can NEVER take back the decision to give your child raw milk that was contaminated with a pathogen.
          I would encourage everyone to go to http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/outbreak-tables and look at the outbreak chart for the past couple of years. Raw milk dairies across the nation are poisoning people. What other food source is having 5 or more outbreaks a year?

          • Mary,
            As someone who has stood by my daughter who had almost died from complications during a routine dental procedure I can understand a little bit of the pain you must have gone through. I can also never take back the decision to see the dentist…
            You are just spreading fear because pathogens are everywhere. The only good defense seems to be healthy gut flora so that is what I am going to work on for me and my family.
            By the way veterinary medicine already knows this and works hard to promote healthy gut flora in animals to prevent disease.

            People have gotten infected by swallowing lake water while swimming, touching the environment in petting zoos and other animal exhibits, and by eating food prepared by people who did not wash their hands well after using the toilet. Almost everyone has some risk of infection.

      • You say it as if the risk of getting this life-threatening illness only applies to foods like raw milk… whereas the cases of children dieing are not from raw milk, they are usually from sources like contaminated beef from feed lots, and yes these children are got life-saving emergency procedures. Such a virulent strain of bacteria is not found amongst HEALTHY cows otherwise people would be dropping dead left and right from drinking raw milk.

      • Kristen,
        The two links you provide actually make Karl’s case quite nicely for him. Not so much for purely e.coli, but for antibiotics vs pathogens in general in cases of HUS. He said “So to me it is the doctors who are responsible because of mistreatment because they fail to do a culture and see what the cause is.” What I think he is saying that is confirmed by your links is that just throwing any antibiotic at any pathogenic organism can worsen the infection, or if not that, can worsen the patient’s condition, bringing on HUS. No antibiotic should be used until the pathogen is identified.
        The 2nd article confirmed this, saying:
        “So the evidence mounts that the class of antibiotic that includes Cipro (a fluoroquinolone) may drive the risk of HUS through increased Stx production. However, it is important to note that antibiotics are clearly indicated for some gram negative bacterial infections of the gut including infections such as Campylobacter jejuni and Shigella, which clinically resemble E. coli O157:H7 enteritis. Further, antibiotic use in the elderly, immune compromised, and those with co-morbidities may be indicated even if the face of a Shiga toxin-producing infection. Thus, wholesale avoidance of antimicrobials for infectious diarrhea is not prudent, but identification of the infectious agent before antibiotic administration is very helpful.”
        And also:
        “More recent studies indicate that the risk of HUS is increased by the use of some antibiotics. The differing mechanisms of action in different antibiotics impact the production of Shiga toxin (Stx) differentially. [3]”
        Karl’s opening question is “What is the cause of HUS?” You claim it is “E. coli 0157:H7” but all I could find in the 2nd link are these two statements:
        “The first study that looked at whether antibiotic use increased the risk of HUS in children was published in 2000. [1] The study found that antibiotic use was a strong and independent risk for the development of HUS regardless of the severity of the inciting infection.”
        “More recent studies indicate that the risk of HUS is increased by the use of some antibiotics.”

        I’m left wondering why you cited these two references. Are you reading them differently than I am? I mean are you reading only the parts that bring a different point of view, and ignoring these sections I quote? And if so, why are these quotes not relevant and significant?
        Please don’t consider me aligned with the “fanatic pro-milk people”. I don’t drink milk and think it is only for infants. I am just interested in freedom of choice and in ridding discussions of deceptive distortions so that people can maintain freedom to chose, untricked by faulty logic, commercial cons, vague statistics, and plays on sympathy. You finish, in your followup statement, by saying the (childrens’) lives were saved by the emergency medical treatments of dialysis etc. But you didn’t mention antibiotics here as a life-saving mechanism. So you seem to be admitting that the antibiotics are actually worsening the situation, either leading to HUS, or making it worse.

        Since which way people end up leaning after reading all 3 of these articles seems to be now hinged on the risks to quite young children, and the absolute risk to their very lives, I think it is important to hang tenaciously to this little subject of the possibility that in many cases it is the medical treatment, once within the hospital, that is life threatening to the children, rather than the pathogen in the raw milk. I think we need to thank Karl for introducing this point of view, and you, Kristen, for providing the important links to show how relevant this may be to the discussion and the choices some people need to make.

      • Kristen,
        I don’t think that asking questions about causation is a problem at all, it is the basis of science. Yes there have been great improvements in treatment of HUS but still little is know about what causes it. The study you linked says that more research is needed. I found some research suggesting that manganese could help prevent uptake of shigella toxin, interestingly it is also a compound that is destroyed in pasteurization of milk.

        My point is that we should turn our efforts toward research that can help prevent and treat the symptoms of e-coli 0157:H7 infection that can further prevent the complications that develop in less than 5% of infections. Look at the links below and you will see that HUS is a rare side effect that is mostly treatable.

        Moreover, for the acute diarrheal illness, antibiotics have not proven useful. In fact, some studies have shown that antibiotics may increase the chances of developing HUS (up to 17-fold). This effect is thought to occur because the antibiotic damages the bacteria, causing them to release even more toxin. Most investigators suggest antibiotic use only if a patient is septic, that is, there is evidence that the bacterium has spread to parts of the body other than the intestine. In addition, use of atropine and diphenoxylate (Lomotil), drugs that are commonly used to control diarrhea, may also increase symptoms and trigger complications.

        How is it treated?

        For mild illness, antibiotics have not been shown to shorten the duration of symptoms and may make the illness more severe in some people. Severe complications, such as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, require hospitalization.

        “According to existing recommendations, antibiotic treatment of STEC infection is discouraged because this therapy might increase the risk of HUS development.”

  39. I found a local family who owns a goat. We use their goat milk. They use vat pasteurization themselves. I feel much better about drinking it than store bought goat milk and I feel that it’s safe.

  40. About how long does raw milk last in the fridge if it’s fresh that day? Can you freeze it or is it better to drink within the time limit and make yogurt or kefir with the rest?

    I will have to drive about an hour away and between that and a very tight budget, it will not be a regular purchase for me.

    Thanks in advance.

    • It is most important that raw milk is stored in very clean glass jars. It is possible if it’s kept very cold on the way home and in the fridge that it will last for two weeks. I used to have to drive 45 minutes to get my milk and I never had any issues. An important thing to note is that when RAW milk starts to sour, it is NOT bad!! When the milk starts to taste off and I not longer like to drink it, I give it to my dog or use it in baking or sometimes make chocolate milk. It actually makes awesome pancakes too! Once you are used to how long it lasts, you will be good at estimating exactly how much you need without it going bad. You can try freezing, although I’ve never tried it. I figure if you can freeze breast milk, what’s the difference? Just bring it down to the fridge to thaw instead of warming it up and do some research as to what type of container to use. Best of luck!! Trust me, you will soon see that raw milk is worth every one of those trips and you will find a way to make it work!!

  41. In Germany you can build raw milk (German: “Rohmilch)” at the farmer. If raw milk is sold in a shop, it is called “Vorzugsmilch”. The Vorzugsmilch, the cows and the persons working with it are checked for microbes every month. Vorzugsmilch is mainly sold in organic stores and is about 50% more expensive as pasteurized organic milk. (This model could maybe also be a political compromise for the US, better than illegalizing raw milk).

    One of the nice things about not pasteurizing milk, or radiating food or putting in chemical conservatives is that this forces the producers to handle their products with care.

  42. Pathenogenic bacteria thrive at room temperature which is what is often recommended for kefir. While there is no studies to back up my claims, it just makes sense that if the pathogens are in your raw milk, then they are going to thrive in your kefir.

    • If the raw milk had pathogenic bacteria, it would not turn into kefir! the cultures in kefir are very powerful and very likely could overrun any pathogenic bacteria and turn into nice smelling kefir. If your ferment smells off this is a very good indicator that the milk did not culture but the pathogenic bacteria took over.

      • Chris:
        Can you please clarify this with your expertise,
        considering you make raw milk kefir?

        It doesn’t make sense to me that the beneficial bacteria/yeasts from the kefir can kill
        off pathenogenic bacteria?

        It seems to me that if e.coli 0157:H7 can survive in an acidic environment like stomache acid, that it can survive in acidified raw milk (kefir).

        • Like I said if you leave raw milk out to culture, one or the other is going to ferment- the pathogenic or the beneficial… I have never heard from any of my research on ferments that both could culture and still turn into a ferment like yogurt or kefir. So if you really have a case of e. coli you would know it after you let it sit out, it would be ‘off’. Maybe I should not have said that the kefir culture could possibly win out over any pathogenic bacteria, I can’t provide you with any research on that, its just from my knowledge on the same type of situation that happens in the gut.. we all have some strains of e.coli but the good guys keep it at bay. I really dislike this war on germs, they are everywhere, including on other raw produce. I do think that some strains have become way more virulent because of antibiotic resistance, but I don’t think people should fear raw milk because of it. I actually got food poisoning from eating a cheap pizza, there are lots of things that can potentially cause illness.

        • Yes, I don’t see why E. coli couldn’t survive in kefir or other fermented dairy products. There is some evidence that pathogens may be less likely to proliferate in raw milk (and perhaps kefir), but that’s very different from saying that raw milk or kefir can “kill” pathogens.

          • I never said ‘kill’, I said overrun, and like you said there is evidence of this because of the healthy bacteria count. I wish I had time to do the research for your audience, we are not doing a good service to people by making them fear even healthy fermentation. I wish CAFO’s had never come about or that people didn’t overuse antibiotics because then this would very likely not even be an issue. But I don’t think cooking everything or irradiating everything is the answer to these virulent strains of bacteria.

            • Janelle,
              I just wanted to say that I put my main response to Kristen’s comment where it would address her comment. However, what I provided was hopefully, basically the “research” you said you wished you could provide to keep innocent people from having to fear something so safe and wonderful as a healthy kefir culture they have begun in their home.
              As you allude to here, it’s basically the bacteria “count” that matters. A species that has an advantage is not going to allow a competitive species to take over. It may allow a symbiotic species to co-exist, or a non-confrontational species to persist, but it won’t allow a competitor to get a foothold.
              You may have not used the word “kill” but don’t be afraid of it. That is exactly what is done in war, and war is what to expect when, for example, e.coli meets the forces of a kefir, which include several species of bacteria as well as yeasts which work together to protect their environment.
              I hope this helps. After studying kefir, it seems to be the safest way to consume raw milk, if anyone even had a worry about its safety. It seems it must provide safety several orders of magnitude greater than just plain raw milk.

                • You are welcome, Janelle. And like you, it is a little strange to be among people who are obsessed with a “war on germs” as you put it. If people are going to be into living naturally, and eating raw foods, they need to understand that germs are everywhere and that trying to kill them with anti-bacterial soap and pasteurization is not a healthy way to go. It’s way better to just “outnumber” them. You body has all the defenses it needs if it is healthy and has a sufficient culture of microbes working for it in the gut and on the skin and mucous membranes. I totally trust my microorganisms to fend off pathogens. I don’t worry about a little dirt on my food. There is strength in numbers. Modern health science has determined that I carry about 10 times as many cells of microorganisms with me as I have cells that hold my DNA. That’s a lot of protection. To make me sick, it’s going to take a dose of food very heavily tainted with a pathogen that can outnumber my protective forces. If people are really worrying about pathogens, the first thing they need to do is build up their probiotics, both in their gut and in their garden.

                  As I’ve said before, if people have a fear of drinking raw milk, their mind is probably set looking in the wrong direction, and none of us should try to change that. They also won’t trust other raw foods, especially cultured ones like sauerkraut, raw cheese, unpasteurized wine, etc. because these have been sitting “unprotected” for long periods of time, able to be tainted by all kinds of pathogens.
                  It just happens though that raw milk, not protected by a healthy culture, or refrigeration, is a fairly good medium for growth of an unhealthy culture. I think those on the side who favor drinking raw milk should acknowledge that. Milk doesn’t carry with it a protective coat against pathogens like whole fruits and vegetables do. It was made to be taken directly from udder or breast into the stomach of the young. When we extract it artificially, and put it into a container, and play time games with it, and don’t give it a dose of a protective culture, we are obviously creating a level of risk that is greater than just leaving a peach in the fruit bowl for 3 days. That raw milk is used by someone other than the person or family who owns the cow (in most cases these days) is a situation that may add a little more “unknown” to the equation of how safe a particular sample of raw milk actually is.
                  If I had children at home still, and believed they needed the nourishment of cows’ milk (I no longer do), and yet didn’t like even the risk portrayed by Chris’s first article, I would try to improve my children’s odds against becoming sick by probably (my seat of the pants estimate) 1000 fold by: 1) inspecting the dairy that I use; 2) testing the newest batch introduced to my home (on myself) before giving it to the kids; 3) never letting the kids indulge in milk as a treat or means of hydration, but only giving a reasonable amount with a healthy meal; 4) never feeding the kids sugar; 5) never letting them eat any sweet foods such as fruit at the same time as fatty meals – this provides an ideal fermentation atmosphere, even in the stomach, such that when the tainted food finally leaves the stomach, it’s bacterial content has already possibly doubled! 6) making sure that milk containers are kept in refrigeration as much as possible; 7) empty all milk from the glasses as soon as the meal is finished so children can’t drink warm milk later.

                  Yes, 5 of 7 guidelines I listed are aimed at the assumption that a small, innocuous number of microbes in a serving of raw milk can possibly become debilitating if the milk isn’t handled properly by the purchaser. Why ask kids to wash their hands before a meal and yet let them otherwise act in a way that multiplies the germs that are always already in the food?

          • I ran across a study or experiment if you will – gosh I should have started keeping track – where they inoculated raw and pasteurized milk with e-coli. Both room temp and refrigerated for some set time. The room temp raw was safe to drink and the pasteurized was dangerous in a short time…. way cool. Hopefully could google it or it could have been in a interview with that big raw dairy in Calif

            At any rate I think as far as the “risk” goes like the 1 in 6 million or whatever it is , If the dairy tests the current batch of raw milk to be free of pathogenic bacteria then it becomes a mute point eh ? Drink up

    • Kristen, and others commenting on this subject, even though you say “…it just makes sense that if the pathogens are in your raw milk, then they are going to thrive in your kefir.”, we that favor the consumption of raw milk all seem to be looking for something that proves that pathogenic microbes cannot live in the presence of a healthy culture – a culture such as that which makes kefir, or which lives in a healthy gut, like we try to introduce via “probiotics”. If we found that an established group of microbes could maintain and control their environment against hostile invaders, then possibly we could again believe that a healthy microbial system, such as raw milk, or intestinal flora, could keep control, and fight off invaders, and keep the invaders from “thriving” as you mention.
      So if readers here can, for a moment, ignore the fact that this link is provided by an agent of the big-Pharma industry, and overcome the fact that you are going to have to listen to a lecture instead of read a text document, and get past the fact that it is a lengthy lecture, I think you’ll see that it is very possible for a culture, such as a kefir culture, to protect it’s preferred environment and to fight off smaller cultures of adversarial bacteria such as e.coli. It turns out that bacterial systems are quite intelligent collectively, and can operate in synchronized ways to wipe out opposing cutures. Please listen to this TED talk if you are interested in a scientific answer to this question:

  43. It speaks to the power of propaganda that there is so much hand-wringing over the risk of drinking raw milk – despite the fact that there have been no deaths related to drinking raw milk in the past 37 years, according to CDC statistics.

    Cantaloupe, on the other hand, caused at least 13 deaths last year.. Why are there no armed raids against cantaloupe vendors?

    We’ll know our country has regained its sanity when big Pharma execs are held to account for knowingly and willfully putting people at risk with their toxic drugs which kill thousands every year.

  44. Would making kefir out of raw milk (goat’s milk is what I have access to) do anything to prevent the growth of disease causing organisms?

    • I’ve been making raw goat kefir at room temp for two years with no problems. One of my oldskool books on goat husbandry (McKenzy) suggests you’d need to be over the top unsanitary before you’d have a problem.

  45. I posted this on the last post on raw milk but perhaps it is more valid here:

    My uncle Johnny passed away last year at the age of 82. At his funeral a family member gave an account of how he was born.

    He was born at just under 6 months gestation (on October 31, 1928 of all days) and Va, my great grandma, was told by the doctors that he wouldn’t survive and that they could keep him at the hospital in an incubator until he passes. Va told the doctor that if he was going to die then he was going to die at home. They fashioned a bed for him out of a shoe box and kept him by the stove for warmth. He was too young to breast feed so he was given goats milk (presumably raw) and obviously survived against all odds.

    Milk, regardless of what animal it comes from, is a life giving substance. There is much more to this food than we know.

    • The exact same story for our Auntie Dolly! She was less than 2 lbs and was kept in a ladies size 5 shoe box by the fire, to peacefully pass away.. She defied the odds and is going strong (all 4 ft 10 of her ) aged 88 :))

      • Amazing how we dealt with life way back then isn’t it! One thing I forgot to mention is that my Uncle passed away due to cancer so it wasn’t even old age that got to him.

  46. Chris, Do you have an opinion on whether the Lyme disease spirochete can be transmitted through raw milk? I recently came back positive for Lyme and am being treated (think I got it 20 yrs ago, since that’s when my pain – chronic daily headaches – started). I have been in favor of raw milk for many years, but after reading up on Lyme, I’m concerned that there is a possibility of Lyme being in raw milk. Lyme can be transmitted through human breast milk, and cattle can get Lyme and pass it to other cattle through urine, etc. So, some experts suggest it is possible.

    • Thank you for this presentation, Dr. Kresser. I have the same question. I also have had Lyme (multiple vector borne infections) for years and an extremely compromised immune system, and am struggling to find a combo of non-pharma treatments to get (some semblance of) my life back. My D.Ac wanted me to start drinking raw milk, but understood my concerns about spirochete content and transmission. Growing understanding of the nutrient-dense, medicinal qualities of breast milk – maybe even with spirochetes – I’m reconsidering the relative risks and benefits of raw milk in healing.

      • I don’t know the answer to the spirochete question. I’m not sure anyone really does at this point.

        • http://www.news-medical.net/health/Lyme-Disease.aspx
          I’m a veterinary technician and I have been to many continuing education seminars on Lyme and other tick borne diseases. It is my understanding that Lyme can only be transmitted by a tick and has to be attached for over 24 hours to transmit the disease. The Lyme spirochete goes through a transition in the tick as it’s feeding from the host, which takes some time, then the tick transmits the infective Lyme spirochete when it releases from the host after feeding.The tick regurgitates as it releases and that is when the Lyme enters the host. The veterinary field has developed effective vaccines against dogs developing Lyme disease by inhibiting the spirochete from being infective from the blood of the vaccinated dog that the tick feeds on. Brilliant. The human pharmaceuticals were not so ingenious when developing a vaccine for humans. Thank you, free market, for allowing the veterinary industry to come up with one. The vaccine affects the outer surface proteins (Osp A and C) of the spirochete so it can’t be infective. Unfortunately, the tick disease that veterinarians are diagnosing in their canine patients isn’t manditorily reportable. If so, the human physicians in a given area might be more astute in tick borne diseases being on their differential when presented with patients with tick borne disease symptoms. Oh, the stories I could tell you of people I know personally that went undiagnosed with Lyme when I could diagnose it. An obvious tell tale rash and symtoms were diagnosed as ringworm and the flu when clearly a coworker’s husband had Lyme and has to go to another Dr that figured it out. Canines are like the canary in the coal mine-they get all the same tick borne disases that we do, therefore, people in the same region are equally at risk. My hairdresser’s daughter almost died from RMSF and went undiagnosed for too long. Three Dr’s thought she just had a flu virus. I live in south central PA, by the way.

          • In response to the post about Lyme disease, I would say GO FOR IT!! GET RAW MILK (from a good farm, of course…do your research). At a recent vet visit I found out my dog had at one time been exposed to both Lyme and Anaplasmosis, both bacterial diseases. If you think about it, in the American diet there is little exposure to GOOD bacteria….like that found in raw milk. Back to my dog, the funny thing is we never even knew she had those diseases except for a minor loss of appetite. She was eating an all natural diet with raw pastured meat and RAW MILK. When we first found this out (way after the fact) the vet was surprised that she had fought both off and her blood work was now completely normal!! Raw milk has also healed my IBS when no drug or anything else was able to help me. It simply replaced all the bad bacteria in my stomach/intestines with good bacteria. It is rare now that I get sick and when I do, it is short lived. What you eat severely affects your immune system. Go raw, go natural. Get your food from the farm, not the store!! Best of luck to everyone!! And thanks for writing such a great article!!

    • I own a small raw milk dairy in Excelsior Springs, MO. I just had a woman buy milk from us today who has Lyme disease and says she has experienced a dramatic improvement in her symptoms since she starting drinking raw milk. Take it for what it’s worth! 🙂

  47. Yes, I think it is worth the minimal risk. I have been reading up on raw milk for some time, and just discovered a “cow share” program that is not subject to my jurisdiction’s anti-raw milk regulations. I just had my first delivery of raw milk this week. My main motivation is that I am pregnant, and I want to do everything I can to optimize my nutritional intake at this point. The risk of illness is too insignificant to deter me.

  48. One point I don’t recall seeing you make in this series, Chris, which is:

    NEVER drink raw milk that comes from a conventional dairy. Raw milk must be handled carefully to produce a safe product. A conventional dairy that expects its milk to be pasteurized does not need to exercise this care, and therefore its products should only be consumed after pasteurization.

    • take with a grain maybe wrong as i don’t have the data at my fingertips but my understanding that in the CAFO milk due to being grain fed plus antibiotics etc the cows actually produce unsafe milk due to the proliferation of “bad” bacteria in their multiple stomachs. How this translates to the mammary glands; I don’t know so therefore could be hype – just seem to recall I had read from a credible source.

  49. Chris, for the risk adverse, it might help if you maintain the context of your first post by mentioning that the very small risk of very serious illness is not limited to unpasteurized milk but also includes many foods we regularly eat without even considering their risk.

    Sometimes it is surprising that this issue even needs serious conversation. An equivalent discussion about the risks of eating raw strawberries vs. cooked strawberries could be had. I don’t have the data at hand, but I’m confident the small risks of eating raw strawberries from a major grocery chain are significantly higher than eating them cooked. Folks would laugh if I even started such a conversation, let alone gasp “Oh my gosh! You let your kids eat fresh strawberries?!!!”

  50. Great article. I’d read the information before about the role pasteurization plays in soponification (Deep Nutrition -Catherine Shanahan MD) however, timing is everything. As I sipped my coffee to which I’d just added some cream I’d skimmed off of the raw milk, I watched my boyfriend steam his commercial milk for his latte. Although he likes raw, his complaint was that he couldn’t get a good foam on the raw. Ahhh, now I get it! Could it be that the raw milk lacks calcium soaps?! He’s just now getting over the “loss” of grains, gluten, and his beloved Starbucks pumpkin scones…. It’s all a process.

  51. One important factor that a lot of people don’t understand is how much a pregnant woman’s immune system goes on hiatus, particularly in the third trimester. I did not understand why Listeria was so hyped as a pregnancy risk until I read that pregnant women are 20x more likely to be infected following exposure than someone with a non-pregnant immune system!

    The big raw milk dairies near me have all had listeria and salmonella outbreaks too. 🙁

  52. Hi Chris,

    Great article. It is common practice, at least in the west, to give babies pasteurized milk once they’re weaned and generally after 12 months of age. What about introducing raw milk in this time frame? Besides the risks and benefits you’ve already mentioned, are there others to consider in this scenario?

    • I tend to think that dairy should be one of the later foods to be introduced, whether raw or pasteurized. We started introducing it slowly and in small amounts with our daughter Sylvie at about 9 months.

    • My son has been drinking raw dairy since 12 months. He weaned from the breast at nine months and I felt raw milk was the best substitute for him. He’s thrived on it and he’s big on milk. We are fortunate to live in a state where the raw milk isn’t illegal and you can shop around. It’s been over a year now and we’ve not had an issue, but of course, like CK said, it’s another calculated life risk!

      Honestly though, there are tons of recalls for baby formula on a regular basis… Some for quite insidious pathogens.

  53. I love raw milk for its flavor and for making cheese and kefir. I was excited to hear about low temperature pasteurization as a possible compromise option. I searched for a local dairy providing vat pasteurization. The closest was the Golden Glen Creamery near Seattle. Googling them, I discovered their butter and cheese had been recalled due to contamination with Listeria last fall. I still think vat pasteurization is a good option, but people with immune issues should be aware that it does not provide 100% protection.

  54. Yes, we would if it were easier to find. We enjoy raw hard cheeses and would love to add other raw dairy products, since we don’t do well with processed dairy other than butter.

  55. The http://www.happyherbalist.com/ also has Kefir cultures among many other kinds of dairy & non-dairy cultures.
    I was making Kefir from raw milk for a while, but was somehow not tolerating it well, so I had to drop it. Even with raw milk, I personally have to keep it to a minimum. I still put a little raw cream in my coffee! Mmmmmmm!
    As it turns out, Casein showed up as a level one allergen for me in the food allergy blood panel, as I had suspected. Thus while the raw &/or fermented aspect would help with lactose intolerance, not so much with casein. Oh well.
    Despite my own low tolerance, I am convinced that raw dairy is a health elixir for those without either casein or lactose issues, and totally worth the risk. But I also eat raw oysters, ride a bike & drive, so obviously I have a higher tolerance for risk.
    I wouldn’t trust any information from the FDA any further than I could throw the entire institution with my pinkie finger. To be quite frank I think the FDA is a scientific laughingstock, not to mention possibly the most corrupt branch of government we have at both the federal and state levels. They are basically the “enforcement arm” of corporate agriculture & the pharmaceutical industry. But I’m probably preaching to the choir here, huh?


    • There is some talk about A1 and/or A2 milk protein – A2 being much more tolerated. If I understand correctly goat (and some – very few cows) have A2 beta casein. My sis is working on breeding Dexter cows that produced A2 milk exclusively to add to her goat milk dairy.

  56. What about goat milk? Are goats grass-fed? I know their milk is not homogenized like cow milk, so that’s an advantage. I heard that if you don’t tolerate cow milk you may tolerate goat milk.

    • I grew up “allergic” to cow’s milk and was given goat’s without issue. My grandfather raised goats and milked them daily for me. Just to clarify, goats are always pastured because they are very active and need to run around. They are not “grass-fed,” however, because they don’t eat grass. They eat everything but the grass. They are “browsers” eating weeds, shrubs, your flowers, your apple trees. Also, if the nanny goats are kept anywhere near a billy goat, the milk will taste ridiculously horrible.

      • Goats will also eat your laundry off the line, bars of soap, twine, sticks… 🙂
        Sorry I couldn’t resist. My family raised goats when I was young.

        • I have to say this comment made me chuckle. Goats will nibble on everything tasting to see if it is edible, and if they like the flavor they will eat it up. But they are actually one of the most picky farm animals that I have ever owned they will nibble the flakes off of the stem and leave of the stems, to the point of starving you can not force a goat to eat like moldy hay. All in all I like the goat above the cow. I have had both the cow was larger and harder to manage, the goat eats a smaller amount and is easier to milk, they do produce less milk but per size and feed they produce very well. As far as the milk raw milk cows or goat will take a second to get used to, because it is raw, not cooked. Like fresh apples vs cooked apples. I personally have not gotten sick from either raw apples or raw milk.

  57. Chris,

    Tell me what you think about raw goat milk as compared to cow milk. I’ve been told that people that struggle to digest cow milk generally do much better with goat milk.


    • Yes, some people do better with goat milk. The composition of goat and cow milk differs significantly.

      • Chris, could you talk about GOAT milk in particular? I’ve found a source for RAW goat milk and yogurt and I’m keen to try, but of course, nervous of the risks.

      • But it is not real cultures I have origin russian cultures they are much more stronger with much more strains. I am from europe so it is easy to get it here well no one sell it it is gift, someone gave it to you and then when you have enough you give it to someone else

      • I noticed on the culturesforhealth.com site that they also offer kefir cultures for making coconut water kefir and also kombucha cultures. Since those are both made from sugary starters are they safe for someone following a VLC diet? Thanks.

  58. I absolutely believe raw milk is worth the risk! So much so that I’ve been drinking it my entire pregnancy! Although it is in the back of my mind that I could get sick, its in the back of my mind while driving that I could be risking my life yet it doesn’t stop me from driving. I think one precaution that can be taken is to wait a day or two when getting a new batch before giving it to young children and pregnant Moms to see if anyone gets sick. This is easy for our situation because everyone in our co-op is drinking milk from the same batch. There hasn’t been an outbreak here in Nebraska during the time we’ve been getting it -2.5 yrs. I really trust our dairy farm even without all the fancy equipment that the big dairies have.. nor do they do any testing. If no one ever gets sick… why test?

  59. Burton, the website realmilk.com lists raw milk dairies in the United States by state. The co-op where I was getting my raw milk was just a couple weeks ago served with a cease and desist order by the USDA. I will now have to go directly to the farmer, but I’m willing to do that. I get goat milk, which freezes well, and I usually kefir it anyway. My point is, in many states there is somewhat of a war on to take raw milk dairies out of business, so please be discreet if raw milk is not “legal” in your state. On the other hand, please support the wonderful farmers who are willing to produce this milk for us!

  60. Chris,

    I’m most interested in learning where to find raw milk, especially grass-fed raw milk. If you find any sources of information on this please let me know. Thanks!


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