Dangers of raw milk PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Milk and milk products provide a wealth of nutrition benefits. But raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 800 people in the United States have gotten sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk since 1998.
Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, and listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.
These harmful bacteria can seriously affect the health of anyone who drinks raw milk or eats foods made from raw milk. However, the bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

PasteurizING Milk

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.


Symptoms of foodborne illness include:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache and body ache.

  • While most healthy people will recover from an illness caused by harmful bacteria in raw milk or in foods made with raw milk within a short period of time, some can develop symptoms that are chronic, severe or even life-threatening.
    If you or someone you know becomes ill after consuming raw milk or products made from raw milk — or, if you are pregnant and think you could have consumed contaminated raw milk or cheese — see a doctor or health-care provider immediately.

    OKAY To Eat

  • Pasteurized milk or cream.
  • Hard cheeses, such as cheddar, and extra hard grating cheeses, such as Parmesan.
  • Soft cheeses, such as brie, camembert, blue-veined cheeses, and Mexican-style soft cheeses, such as Queso Fresco, Panela, Asadero, and Queso Blanco made from pasteurized milk.
  • Processed cheeses.
  • Cream, cottage and ricotta cheese made from pasteurized milk.
  • Yogurt made from pasteurized milk.
  • Pudding made from pasteurized milk.
  • Ice cream or frozen yogurt made from pasteurized milk.

  • Not OKAY To Eat

  • Unpasteurized milk or cream.
  • Soft cheeses and Mexican-style soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Yogurt made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Pudding made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Ice cream or frozen yogurt made from unpasteurized milk.

  • Most milk and milk products sold commercially in the United States contain pasteurized milk or cream or the products have been produced in a manner that kills any dangerous bacteria that may be present.
    But unpasteurized milk and products made from unpasteurized milk are sold and may be harmful to your health.
    To avoid getting sick from the dangerous bacteria found in raw milk, you should choose your milk and milk products carefully.
    Jenna Jones is the Nutrition Program Manager for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. For more information, contact her at 561-7450 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



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