Real Raw Milk Facts

Study: Raw and Pasteurized Milk Differ in Taste, Smell and Safety

Belgian researchers have not exactly said the benefits of raw milk often cited by advocates exist only in their heads, but they’ve come pretty close. They’ve found that the only big difference between pasteurized and non-pasteurized milk is “organoleptic,” meaning how it tastes, smells, feels or appears.

Their conclusion: raw milk is a “realistic and unnecessary” health threat because, until pasteurized, milk pathogenic bacteria poses a significant threat from Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli.

Published in Food Control Journal, the Belgian research recommends the heat treatment of milk for human consumption, especially for young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.

The study did not find any support for the notions held by many raw-milk advocates that pasteurization “destroys the nutritional and health benefits of milk, and can even induce some detrimental effects.” The researchers say that those arguments can be refuted.

“It is clear that this ‘detrimental’ effect of heating does not countervail the risk poised by raw milk consumption, namely of milk-borne pathogen infection, which can have serious health consequences,” the Belgian study states.

Last month at two rambunctious public hearings held by the Wisconsin Senate, numerous advocates testified that raw milk offers special health benefits. Bills are pending in both Wisconsin’s Senate and General Assembly to allow the retail sale of raw milk, but since the hearings, they’ve not seen further action.

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