What About Raw Milk?

Caveat emptor

Interest in consuming nonpasteurized milk and cheese seems to be increasing in the U.S. over the last couple years.  I don’t know why.  Is it safe?

In case you’ve forgotten, the process of pasteurization is designed to kill pathogenic organisms that raw milk may harbor.  Campylobacter and Salmonella are two of the common pathogens.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month published an article on disease outbreaks associated with nonpasteurized dairy products.  Bottom line: Nonpasteurized products are 150 times more likely to be associated with foodborne illness compared to pasteurized product.  The CDC wants states to consider more stringent regulation.

It’s hard to be sure, but my sense is that foodborne illness related to nonpasteurized dairy products in the U.S. is pretty uncommon, if not rare.

Mark Crislip at Science-Based Medicine says pasteurization is a good thing.

As for me, I see no reason to go out of my way looking for nonpasteurized milk and cheese.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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