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  5. Raw Milk Myths Busted and the Dangers of Unpasteurized Milk

Milk and milk products provide a wealth of nutrition benefits. But unpasteurized milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family. Pasteurized milk that is correctly handled in the dairy, bottled, sealed, and refrigerated after pasteurization, and that is properly handled by the consumer, is very unlikely to contain illness-causing germs. Considering the large amount of pasteurized milk that people drink, illness from it is very rare.

Many people eat food that has undergone minimal processing, and some people also choose to drink raw milk.

Raw milk and products made from it, however, can pose severe health risks, including death. That is because raw milk has not undergone a process called pasteurization that kills disease-causing germs.

Video: The Dangers of Unpasteurized Milk

pdfRaw Milk, Know the Raw Facts


5 Raw Milk Myths Busted!

milk myths

  • MYTH: Raw milk is healthier and more nutritious than pasteurized milk.
  • MYTH: Drinking raw milk may not be safe, but no harm will come from eating products (soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt) made from raw milk.
  • MYTH: Milk is safe if it is labeled “organic.”
  • MYTH: Raw milk and products made from it – ­­soft cheese and yogurt – are safe if they come from healthy animals.
  • MYTH: If animals are raised in sanitary conditions on humane farms, their milk is safe.

milk facts

  • FACT: Most of the nutritional benefits of drinking raw milk are available from pasteurized milk without the risk of disease that comes with drinking raw milk.
  • FACT: Raw milk made into other products, like soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, can still cause dangerous infections. When consuming these products, make sure they are made from pasteurized milk.
  • FACT: Only organic milk that has been pasteurized is safe to drink.
  • FACT: Healthy animals can carry illness-causing germs, such as Brucella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella, that can contaminate milk.
  • FACT: Even dairy farms with very good safety practices can harbor illness-causing germs. And even if tests on a batch of a farm’s raw milk come back negative, it is no guarantee that the next batch of milk will be free of harmful germs.

Milk contamination may occur in these ways:

  • Animal feces coming into direct contact with the milk
  • Infection of the udder (mastitis)
  • Cow diseases (for example, bovine tuberculosis)
  • Bacteria that live on the skin of animals
  • Environment (for example, feces, dirt, and processing equipment)
  • Insects, rodents, and other animal vectors
  • Unsanitary conditions in milk processing plant
  • Cross-contamination from dairy workers, such as contact with dirty clothing or boots

Pasteurization is the only way to kill many of the bacteria in milk that can make people very sick.

Information and Resources

FoodSafety.gov Charts: Food Safety at a Glance

How long can you store leftovers in the refrigerator? How can you tell when chicken breasts are done? How long does it take to cook a turkey? Check out these charts for fast answers.

FoodSafety.gov: FoodKeeper App

The FoodKeeper helps you understand food and beverages storage. It will help you maximize the freshness and quality of items. By doing so you will be able to keep items fresh longer than if they were not stored properly. It is also available as a mobile application for devices, Android and Apple.

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