Want a Good Tip? Don’t Drink Unpasteurized Milk

Researchers at the Minnesota Department of Health have just published a study in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal that found that consuming raw (unpasteurized) milk causes bacterial or parasite infections in 1 out of every 6 people. These infections included Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter bacteria, along with a parasitic infection called cryptosporidiosis. Pasteurization is a process that involves heating milk to a certain temperature to kill off these or any other germs that might cause disease without affecting the nutritional value of the milk.

During a previous study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raw milk was found to be 150 times more likely than pasteurized milk to cause illness, usually diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting. These symptoms can last for about a week or more, but they sometimes involve infection with the E. coli strain that causes kidney failure and death. The good news is that most people recover. But the bad news is that there may be long term, more severe illness such as a nervous system disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome, or arthritis with inflammation in the joints.

Raw milk has become increasingly popular with people who advocate natural, unprocessed foods. Some people argue that raw milk is more “wholesome” or “healthier with more nutrients” compared to pasteurized milk, which is simply not true. Some people fail to acknowledge the elevated health risk associated with raw milk consumption and minimize the significance of outbreaks associated with raw milk consumption. There is a false sense of safety promulgated by people who consume raw milk without any balanced assessment of the potential risks and any benefits involved.

It is important for you to know and understand the risks before you or your children consume raw milk. The last thing you want when travelling is to become seriously ill, and unpasteurized milk or milk products may be found in many countries, even the most developed countries. In the USA, 30 states permit the sale of unpasteurized milk directly from the farm.

Takeaway tip: always check to be sure the milk you are drinking has been pasteurized.