Real Raw Milk Facts

Editorial: Raw Milk Is Threat To Human Health, Dairy Industry

Eunice Biel, member of the Post-Bulletin’s Editorial Advisory Board and dairy farm operator, weighed in on proposed raw milk legislation in Minnesota. Read the original article here.

The House Agriculture Committee held an informational hearing during the final week of the legislative session last month on legislation carried by Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, that would allow for raw milk sales at farmers markets or buying clubs. Under current law, unpasteurized milk can only be sold at the farm site.

The hearing saw a room packed with raw milk supporters who talked about the supposed health benefits of raw milk. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and others testified about concerns about expanding raw milk sales. Our veterinarians are also adamantly opposed to expanded raw milk sales. I know that this issue is not a hot topic for many, but it concerns me a lot.

Pasteurization is a process that kills harmful bacteria by heating milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time. First developed by Louis Pasteur in 1864, pasteurization kills harmful organisms responsible for such diseases as listeriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and brucellosis. Research shows no meaningful difference in the nutritional values of pasteurized and unpasteurized milk.

Pasteurized milk contains low levels of the type of nonpathogenic bacteria that can cause food spoilage, so storing your pasteurized milk in the refrigerator is still important. While pasteurization has helped provide safe, nutrient-rich milk and cheese for over 120 years, some people continue to believe that pasteurization harms milk and that raw milk is a safe, healthier alternative.

Here are some common myths and proven facts about milk and pasteurization:

• Pasteurizing milk DOES NOT cause lactose intolerance and allergic reactions.

• Both raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to milk proteins (lactose intolerance).

• Raw milk DOES NOT kill dangerous pathogens by itself.

• Pasteurization DOES NOT reduce milk’s nutritional value.

• Pasteurization DOES NOT mean that it is safe to leave milk out of the refrigerator for extended time, particularly after it has been opened.

• Pasteurization DOES kill harmful bacteria.

• Pasteurization DOES save lives.

On our farm, milking machines deliver milk directly from the cows to a refrigerated holding tank to preserve freshness and safety. The milk is then quickly transported to processing plants for continued freshness and safety. Pasteurization at the processing plant is the next step to ensure farm-to-table milk safety.

We have also found that pasteurizing milk to feed our calves cuts down on gastrointestinal discomfort, and therefore the calves grow faster, and are able to start eating grain and hay sooner.

The U.S. dairy industry has an outstanding record of product safety and quality, attained through years of extensive monitoring and testing throughout the production, processing and distribution chain. Pasteurization is a critical element in that process. To maintain that reputation, it’s important that the dairy industry does not get tainted by milk that hasn’t been properly treated.

A table of proposed raw milk regulations is available here.

Real Life Dangers of Raw Milk

Several families offered to share their stories on video to help raise awareness about the potential risks and negative effects on health from drinking contaminated raw milk.

Real Life Stories