Real Raw Milk Facts

Opinion: Pasteurized milk among safest food products

Donnie Simmons, director of environmental health, Livingston County Public Health Department, wrote this response to a letter to the editor published in Pantagraph:

In a letter to the editor headlined, “We’d be better off consuming raw milk” published July 29, its author tries to make the case that pasteurized milk is unhealthy and causes outbreaks of foodborne illness. In his letter Mr. Connor claims that pasteurized milk is usually the source of foodborne illness outbreaks when milk is involved. This is simply not the case and is not supported by any facts.

In the 1930s before pasteurization, raw milk caused 25 percent of all foodborne and waterborne outbreaks in the United States.

In the 21st century, dairy products now cause approximately 1 percent of all reported outbreaks in the United States with 70 percent of those outbreaks associated with dairy products using raw milk.

It is estimated that approximately 1 percent to 3 percent of the population consumes raw dairy products. If pasteurized dairy products were as risky or a greater risk, it would make sense that there would be more outbreaks since 97 percent to 99 percent of the population is consuming pasteurized dairy products. These are real facts a person should use in deciding the safety of drinking raw milk, not a study done in the 1950s using cats.

Milk has gone from one of the leading causes of foodborne illness to one of the safest food products, all because of pasteurization. Other foods that are safer because of pasteurization include eggs and oysters.

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