More criticism of raw milk

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Bovine Veterinarian has written many pieces on the potential dangers of consuming raw milk. The FDA recently distributed a press release that said, “A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covering a 13-year period determined that raw milk products are 150 times more likely to cause a foodborne illness outbreak than pasteurized milk products.”

Still, some producers continue to market raw milk to consumers and risk passing on potentially contaminated products. A recent campylobacteriosis outbreak linked to raw milk in Pennsylvania in January has now sickened 80 people in four states.

In his Feb. 25 issue of Environmental Views, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Dennis T. Avery discusses why regulations are in place against the sale of raw milk for consumer consumption, and the potential danger of it to an unsuspecting public. 

What follows is Avery’s commentary “Raw Milk: Buying Danger”:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control finally confirmed that drinking raw milk is more than twice as dangerous then drinking pasteurized milk. And the raw milk disease outbreaks are more dangerous’ especially for kids and the elderly. This is the CDC’s reluctant response to a craze among the alternate believers for “all natural.”  CDC made the announcement after a 13-year review!

Dr. Robert Tauxe, director of CDC’s division of foodborne diseases said: “The states that allow sale of raw milk will probably continue to see outbreaks in the future.” The CDC and FDA also say pasteurized milk has all the same benefits as unpasteurized milk.

This “bolsters the federal government’s argument to go after farmers who sell unpasteurized milk across state lines” said The Washington Times online Feb. 21.

First and foremost, cattle sometimes have diseases that the farmers don’t know they have. This isn’t as big a risk as it was in my youth. Lots of the dairy cattle then carried tuberculosis and undulant fever, truly awful diseases. All dairy cattle now have to be tested periodically to ensure they don’t have either. Still, hundreds of Americans have had to be hospitalized with serious illnesses from such milk-borne bacteria as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria—and the ever-popular E. coli in some of its more dangerous forms. The CDC says 200 out of 239 hospitalizations studied during its long review of the raw milk question stemmed from unpasteurized milk.

Would you believe that people on the far side of “living naturally” insist on drinking this more-dangerous raw milk for their health? And, giving it to their children! That’s what interviews by the University of Wisconsin found. A growing number of consumers feel that pasteurization “robs” milk of some of its nutritional and health benefits. They truly say this!  Some consumers say that raw milk is a “living food,” while pasteurized milk is biologically “dead.” Wow.

Some of these benighted believers said they had ailments that “the doctors” have not diagnosed to their satisfaction. They’re looking for “alternative treatments” that the doctors don’t believe in. Drinking raw milk surely qualifies there.

Some even believe that raw milk contains “good bacteria” that the pasteurization indiscriminately kills. Well, if you think Salmonella is a “good bacteria” that’s true. If you think Salmonella is a potentially deadly health threat, that’s true too.

Even less persuasive is another idea offered by the raw milk believers—that they want to “connect” with some sort of energy field ascribed to the small farmer producing food “naturally.” The “energy field” these farmers are mining, however, seems to be generated by the fact that the Wisconsin dairy farmers were charging up to $7 per gallon for their raw milk, compared to $1.40 per gallon if they sold to the dairy. Not much mystery there. It helps, of course, if the raw milk dairy farmer is more glib than the usual farmer about the” bloom of health” stuff, offering lots of emotional reinforcement to the city rubes.

A couple of years ago, after writing a column critical of raw milk, I got an e-mail from a woman “Out West.” She told me, “Oh, Mr. Avery, if you had ever offered raw milk to your own children, and seen the bloom of health that came over them as a result, you’d be with us in this crusade.”

I wrote back and told the lady she was unlucky — because I’d grown up drinking raw milk and had experienced no extra bloom of anything beneficial. I had allergies then and allergies now. Matter of fact, after I went away to college and started drinking pasteurized milk, I grew two more inches and gained 30 pounds as I reached my genetic destiny (no, I am not claiming miracles for pasteurized milk, but obviously, I don’t believe the raw milk hype.)

When I back-checked her e-mail address, the website was touting the raw milk she was selling.  

Sources:  Washington Times

Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 2442; email to

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Batavia  |  March, 03, 2012 at 01:46 PM

On the other side of the coin is the organic milk scam. Charging more for so called organic milk should be criminal since this milk is the same as any other conventional milk, except it is usually ultra-pasteurized. Ultra pasteurization makes most of the goodness of the milk unavailable when it is consumed. In other words it is liquid crap!

Edward Watts    
Pennsylvania  |  March, 03, 2012 at 10:37 PM

I will consede the added health risk from sick cows or poorly handled milk. I said it before I'll say it again Fresh milk tastes better. Store bought milk tasters like 4 day old milk because it is.

MA  |  March, 05, 2012 at 05:30 AM

Garbage in Garbage out...just that raw milk leaves a smaller margin for error...

Australia  |  March, 05, 2012 at 06:11 AM

Mr. Avery seems to be presenting his inherent bias on the subject, rather than presenting a useful scientifically relevant article. So, his other claim to fame is that he would like us all to believe that C02 from human activity is not contributing to global warming. With the majority of climate scientists disagreeing with this idea, one has wonder why he is taking this view on climate change. Is he on the payroll of a greenhouse gas intensive industry? Similarly, I wonder what is his agenda in attempting to discredit the consumption of raw milk???

usa  |  March, 06, 2012 at 08:46 PM

After reading this artical ,it doesnt take a real smart person to realize that Mr. Avery is like a little monkey on a chain BOUGHT AND PAYED FOR

Australia  |  March, 05, 2012 at 06:25 AM

There will always be people who wish to have access to raw milk. It should be obvious, given the length some people will go to obtain the product, it is not something that will ever be stopped. Rather than laughing at these people, if there really is a public health concern, we as veterinarians should be encouraging, and when asked by producers, implementing on-farm programs to minimise the risk to consumers who choice to consume raw milk .

usa  |  March, 06, 2012 at 08:34 PM

wisely spoken.

usa  |  March, 06, 2012 at 08:34 PM

wisely spoken.