Raw Milk: What's the Fuss About?

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Raw milk has enjoyed quite a bit of press in the past few years and the only thing that’s for sure is that folks don’t agree about the benefits and/or risks of consuming it. Most commercially available milk is pasteurized to kill microorganisms, and homogenized to keep its components from separating. In contrast, raw milk is left pretty much as the cow created it, complete with butterfat-laden cream and a microbial flora that can include beneficial bacteria and, in some cases, pathogens.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control advocate pasteurization as a means of ensuring that folks don’t inadvertently infect themselves with disease-causing agents. Raw milk advocates point out that pasteurization also kills beneficial microbes and destroys some vitamins and other healthful components in the milk. Both parties agree that pathogenic dangers are minimized when dairy practices include impeccable herd management and cleanliness.

Raw milk sales are legal in some states and not others. For example, in Pennsylvania, people can bring their own bottles to the farm to be filled with fresh unpasteurized milk. Just over the border in Ohio, raw milk sales are not generally permitted. The easiest way to obtain raw milk in states like Ohio might be from your own family cow.

For more information on the pros and cons of consuming raw milk consult the following Web sites:

  • www.CFSAN.FDA.gov/~dms/rawmilk.html – U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition provides warnings about the
    dangers of raw milk.
  • www.RealMilk.com – The Campaign for Real Milk provides research on the benefits and safety of raw milk in its articles section.
  • www.NationalDairyCouncil.org – Enter “pasteurization” in the search bar to find dairy facts as well as cautions about raw milk.
  • www.Raw-Milk-Facts.com – A site offering positive background information, links and updates on raw milk.