Raw milk is unpasteurized milk usually produced by cows or goats. Sheep’s milk may also be raw. There is a movement of those who believe that the pasteurization process removes a lot of the health benefits, including vitamins. But health experts warn raw milk is one of the riskiest dietary decisions one can make. Many food-borne illnesses can be contracted through the drinking of raw milk. Stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting are common side effects. Serious health issues include chronic disorders, kidney failure, paralysis, and death. Lots of food-borne pathogens are in milk previous to pasteurization. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such pathogens include: “Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Shigella, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Yersinia enterocolitica.”Some people who drink raw milk believe that receiving it from the same source or producer will be safe. But experts say this is not the case. The amount of contamination, the specific germs inherent in the batch and the strength of a person’s immune system all play a role in whether or not one gets sick.
Young children, pregnant women, and the elderly are most susceptible. Organ transplant recipients, and cancer and HIV/AIDS patients or others who have serious illnesses are also at high risk. Raw milk caused 148 outbreaks between 1998 and 2011 according to the CDC. 82% of the time, someone younger than 20 years old became ill due to raw milk consumption. Though often processed foods are less healthy, pasteurization kills germs and bacteria that inevitably enter milk through the milking process. Bacteria on cow’s skin, insects and rodents getting into the milking area, infections of the cow’s utters, cow-related diseases and cross-contamination from humans, say dirt or soil on boots and gloves, can all contaminate milk, making the pasteurization process so important. Even if you know someone or people who drink raw milk all the time and never get sick, each time they put that glass to their lips, they are taking a huge risk. Pasteurization does not affect the health benefits of the milk being provided. It only protects against dangerous bacteria.