Raw milk? No, thanks

Milk comes from cows who live on picturesque farms and spend their days contentedly grazing in lush pastures while clouds float overhead in a pure blue sky.

Who doesn’t have wholesome images of milk? Perhaps if we could do away with all those artificial processes such as pasteurization, we could drink fresh raw milk straight from the cow and be healthier for it.

This seems to be the thinking of raw-milk enthusiasts who have apparently gained the ear of some Minnesota legislators.

Minnesota Public Radio reported today that three state senators have proposed legalizing most sales of raw milk in Minnesota. The measure would allow unpasteurized milk to be sold directly to consumers with minimal restrictions, meaning they could buy it in a variety of settings such as farmer’s markets and people’s homes. Under current law, raw milk can only be sold at the farm where it was produced.

I’m at a loss to see why we would want to make it easier for consumers to buy a product that comes with clear, documented health risks. People need look no further than Gibbon in southern Minnesota, where raw milk sold at a dairy farm was linked last year to at least eight cases of E. coli, three cases of Campylobacter and four cases of cryptosporidium. Those stricken included a child who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to kidney failure and is sometimes fatal.

This was not an isolated incident. After the state Health Department began investigating the outbreak traced to the Gibbon farm, 47 other reports of illnesses linked to the consumption of raw milk were identifed across the state. Most of them involved children and young adults.

Those in the raw-milk camp believe unpasteurized milk has special health benefits. But a review published a couple of years ago in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal found no scientific proof to support this. Indeed, the risks clearly outweighed any anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

Don’t just take my word for it. See what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have to say about unpasteurized milk.

For those who think milk producers and consumers should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to take the risk, consider this: Many of those who’ve been sickened by raw milk have been children who aren’t in a position to make an informed decision. Minnesota health officials also are concerned that people may be consuming raw milk without knowing, or without understanding, what they’re getting. On top of this, a rather alarming report this week from the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that raw milk, raw milk cheeses and ground beef appear to be prime carriers of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, with implications for the safety of the entire food system.

If anything, the Minnesota Legislature should be looking at more, rather than less, regulation of raw milk sales.

It’s still early in the session and this issue may end up going nowhere. But it’s baffling that it would even be proposed, in view of the many foodborne disease outbreaks the U.S. has experienced in recent years and increasing public health concerns about food safety.

Wait, there’s more. Legislation also was introduced this week to undo part of the 2007 Freedom to Breathe Act, allowing Minnesotans to smoke in bars once again and expose employees and customers to the hazards of secondhand smoke.

The state may be facing some challenging times, but you’d think we could at least try to maintain the status quo. Instead we appear to be headed for a couple of steps backwards in the quality-of-life department.

It’s starting to look as if the biggest risk to Minnesotans’ health right now is under the roof of the state Capitol.

West Central Tribune file photo

9 thoughts on “Raw milk? No, thanks

  1. You are dumber than a box of rocks and you are listening to the CDC and the FDA, who are nothing but a bunch of big Pharma and Big Agri goons, who are paid a lot to keep people like you from knowing the real truth about raw milk. This country did not have all the obesity and all the medical problems it now has, prior to the pasteurization and homoginization of all the milk. These processes kill all the good stuff that is in the milk of grass fed cows. Raw milk was drank for decades without any problems. Get your head out and wake up.

  2. I haven’t drank a glass of milk in over 10 years. The stuff tastes nasty. I’m 30, reasonable healthy and not overweight. Most countries don’t drink nearly the quantity of milk we do, and they are healthier than we are.

  3. “John” seems to want to blame the country’s obesity on pasteurization. Milk is a saturated fat and calorie dense beverage. Drinking raw, whole milk would only make us fatter.. those of us who don’t get severe diarrhea.

    Raw milk is a major vehicle for pathogens. Drinking raw milk is much more risky and comes with no documented or proven health benefits.

  4. I grew up on a dairy farm and drank raw milk since I was 9 when our pasteurizer broke. My parents, siblings and I are all very healthy and have no allergies.

    We did not drink the milk “whole.” We skimmed the cream off the top after it rose to the top, so it was about like drinking 1% milk from the store.

  5. Pasteurization is not a modern process, it has been in use for over 10 documented centuries. That’s over a 1000 years of history proving the use of pasteurization. In 1938, milk borne disease was about 25% of all food and water contamination disease before pasteurization became law in the U.S. Now, milk borne disease is less than 1% due to pasturization processes. Since pateurization processes were formally introduced to the public in the early 1900s, the mortality rate decreased, especially in infant mortality rates starting in 1908 through the 1930s. Pasteurization is not just for milk, many foods are pasteurized, even water is pasteurized. This subject is a current topic in the news after people suffered illness consuming unpasteurized dairy products. It takes complete ignorance to say pasteurization is bad. For the nay-sayers, this is darwins theory of evolution, to naturally select not to survive by ignoring the tools available to enable survival. This includes those who think that killing bacteria that cause illness is a bad thing. With sadness for the ignorant suffering and still for the sake of the rest of us, may the darwinisms of the world continue to be the lesson for the rest of us. Only the strong survive, including those with a strong intelligence to understand a good thing like the pasteurization process.

  6. I would like to know the cleanliness of the parlors from which these outbreaks happened. It’s my understanding that these diseases mentioned don’t come from the milk itself, but cow feces that has found its way into the milk because of unsanitory conditions.

    Here (www.realmilk.com) is some information on the other side of the aisle.

  7. Use your common sense! Do we really need the FDA to tell us NOT to purchase milk when we don’t know under what conditions it was milked in? We need to be able to make some informed intellegent decisions when the health of our family is at risk.
    Want to drink Raw milk? Great! Drink it! Hey, at least you know where it came from! We won’t need a national animal identification system to find that out! Be smart and take responsibility for your own welfare~don’t make the govt. do it for us!

  8. Pingback: The weekly rundown, Feb. 3 | HealthBeat

  9. Another asinine health-scare peace which avoids a very clear and basic reality: namely that organic, raw milk from pastured, grass/hay/alfalfa eating cows (or goats) is essentially one of the safest (and healthiest) foods you can consume. The endemic probiotic bacteria of properly raised and handled raw milk are essential to good stomach health and protecting against pathogens, while there are countless food-borne illnesses from improperly handled pasteurized milk which are conveniently never talked about. I contend that pasteurization is necessary for agri-business’ CAFO facilities which are the modern-day equivalent Sinclair Lewis’ “The Jungle” with cows defecating literally on top of each other and eating a destructive diet of massive amounts of GMO soy and corn, but it does nothing but destroy essential enzymes, vitamins, and probiotics the safe and living food that is pastured, organic, and raw milk. This crap is disseminated from the same FDA which is gung-ho for CAFO facilities, GMO crops, corn syrup subsidies, artificial sweeteners, etc etc etc. I have been drinking organic raw milk for years and it is a wonderful, life-giving food. All that we who enjoy raw milk ask for is the right to have it regulated and legally available without government and agri-business thugs harassing and intimidating us.

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