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Is raw milk safe for children?

Consumer Reports News: April 06, 2010 01:53 PM

In the great debate over raw milk, you’ve got very passionate people on both sides.

On the one hand, you’ve got the raw milk advocates who feel that pasteurized milk loses something—namely naturally occurring enzymes and some beneficial bacteria that they believe help protect regular drinkers from a whole host of problems, including preventing asthma and allergies, cancer, kidney disease, skin problems, urinary tract problems, prostate issues, and chronic fatigue, as well as aiding in weight loss and helping people tolerate lactose. People are known to go to extremes to obtain this "white gold"—purchasing shares of a cow, smuggling milk across state lines, and even buying gallon jugs tinted gray and labeled as "pet food" in order to partake of what they believe are the potential health benefits.

On the other hand, you’ve got the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both of which view drinking unpasteurized milk as taking an unnecessary risk. The FDA states emphatically that pasteurization DOES NOT (their emphasis) reduce milk’s nutritional value, but DOES kill harmful bacteria and save lives. The list of disease-causing germs that may be present in raw milk includes brucella, campylobacter, E. coli, listeria, salmonella, and yersinia.

The CDC tracks the number of people in the U.S. who are sickened by consuming raw milk every year. From 1993 to 2006 there were 69 reported infectious outbreaks, and during that time 1,505 people got sick, 185 were hospitalized, and two people died. Since not everyone recognizes or reports possible foodborne illnesses, the CDC is assuming that the actual number of people who got sick is higher.

Yes, that’s a small number when you think of all the people who have been sickened by eating tainted beef, nuts, sausage, and salad greens, but keep in mind that a lot fewer people are consuming raw milk than are eating beef. And it just seems like an unnecessary risk to me, especially if I start imagining one of my children as a part of that statistic.

Read the full Health blog post.

Related:

  • FDA warns of outbreaks related to drinking raw milk
  • Baby formula: What are DHA and ARA?
  • Preparing formula and breast milk safely

How do you feel about raw milk? Leave a comment.

Aaron Bailey

   

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