The Safety of Raw Milk
PROTECTIVE COMPONENTS: Raw milk contains numerous components that assist in:
- Killing pathogens in the milk (lactoperoxidase, lactoferrin, leukocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, antibodies, medium chain fatty acids, lysozyme, B12 binding protein, bifidus factor, beneficial bacteria);
- Preventing pathogen absorption across the intestinal wall (polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, mucins, fibronectin, glycomacropeptides, bifidus factor, beneficial bacteria);
- Strengthening the Immune System (lymphocytes, immunoglobulins, antibodies, hormones and growth factors) (Scientific American, December 1995; British J of Nutrition, 2000:84(Suppl. 1):S3-S10, S75-S80, S81-S89).
PASTEURIZATION HARMFUL: Many of these anti-microbial and immune-enhancing components are greatly reduced in effectiveness by pasteurization, and completely destroyed by ultra-pasteurization (Scientific American, December 1995; British J of Nutrition, 2000:84(Suppl. 1):S3-S10, S75-S80, S81-S89).
DANGERS EXAGGERATED: Although raw milk, like any food, can become contaminated and cause illness, the dangers of raw milk are greatly exaggerated. In an analysis of reports on 70 outbreaks attributed to raw milk, we found many examples of reporting bias, errors and poor analysis resulting in most outbreaks having either no valid positive milk sample or no valid statistical association (Response to Marler List of Studies).
USDA/FDA STATISTICS: Based on data in a 2003 USDA/FDA report: Compared to raw milk there are 515 times more illnesses from L-mono due to deli meats and 29 times more illness from L-mono due to pasteurized milk. On a PER-SERVING BASIS, deli meats were TEN times more likely than raw milk to cause illness (Intrepretive Summary – Listeria Monocytogenes Risk Assessment, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Sept. 2003, page 17).
OUTBREAKS DUE TO PASTEURIZED MILK: Due to high-volume distribution and its comparative lack of anti-microbial components, pasteurized milk when contaminated has caused numerous widespread and serious outbreaks of illness, including a 1984-5 outbreak afflicting almost 200,000 people. In 2007, three people died in Massachusetts from illness caused by contaminated pasteurized milk (Real Milk Powerpoint, slide 30).
FORTY-YEAR-OLD SCIENCE AND ANCIENT HISTORY: Claims that raw milk is unsafe are based on 40-year-old science and century-old experiences from distillery dairy “factory farms” in rapidly urbanizing nineteenth century America.
MODERN ADVANTAGES: Compared to 30-50 years ago, dairy farmers today can take advantage of many advancements that contribute to a dramatically safer product including pasture grazing, herd testing, effective cleaning systems, refrigeration and easier, significantly less expensive, more accessible and more sophisticated milk and herd disease testing techniques.
UNIQUE FOOD: Raw milk is the ONLY food that has extensive built-in safety mechanisms and numerous components to create a healthy immune system.
Health Benefits of Raw Milk
BENEFITS IN EARLY HUMAN STUDIES: In early studies involving humans, raw milk was shown to be superior to pasteurized in protecting against infection, diarrhea, rickets, tooth decay and TB; and children receiving had better growth than those receiving pasteurized milk (Real Milk Powerpoint, slides 54-56, 58).
BENEFITS IN EARLY ANIMAL STUDIES: In early animal studies, animals fed raw milk had better growth, denser bones, greater integrity of internal organs, less anemia, fewer signs of anxiety and stress, and fewer signs of nutrient deficiency than animals fed pasteurized milk (Real Milk Powerpoint, slides 57, 59-64).
ASTHMA: Three recent studies in Europe found that drinking “farm” (raw) milk protected against asthma and allergies (Lancet. 2001 Oct 6;358(9288):1129-33; J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Jun;117(6):1374-8; Clinical & Experimental Allergy. 2007 May; 37(5) 627-630).
RAW HUMAN MILK: In recent studies, infants on pasteurized human milk did not gain weight as quickly compared to those fed raw human milk (J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1986 Mar-Apr;5(2):248-53) and premature babies given raw human milk had more rapid weight gain than those given pasteurized human milk. Problems were attributed to pasteurization’s destruction of lipase (J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1986 Mar-Apr;5(2):242-7).
THE MILK CURE: In the early 1900s, the Mayo Clinic administered the “Milk Cure,” which consisted in drinking 4-5 quarts of raw milk per day, obtaining favorable results for a range of illnesses including cancer, weight loss, kidney disease, allergies, skin problems, urinary tract problems, prostate problems and chronic fatigue; these results are not obtained using pasteurized milk.
DANGERS OF PASTEURIZED MILK: Many studies have linked consumption of pasteurized milk with lactose intolerance, allergies, asthma, frequent ear infections, gastro-Intestinal problems, diabetes, auto-Immune disease, attention deficit disorder and constipation. During a period of rapid population growth, the market for fluid pasteurized milk has declined at 1% per year for the past 20 years. Fewer and fewer consumers can tolerate pasteurized (and ultrapasteurized) milk (Don’t Drink Your Milk, Frank Oski, MD, 1983).
LACTOSE INTOLERANCE: In a survey of raw milk drinkers in the state of Michigan, over 80 percent of those advised by a healthcare professional that they were lactose intolerant were able to consume raw milk without problem. (Pilot Survey of Cow Share Consumer/Owners Lactose Intolerance Section).
POSITIVE TESTIMONIALS: Hundreds of testimonials involving reversal of failure to thrive in infants; allergies, asthma and behavior problems in children; and digestive disorders, arthritis, osteoporosis and even cancer in adults (Testimonials, Michigan-Raw Milk Health Testimonials-PDF).
NUTRIENT DEGRADATION BY PASTEURIZATION:
|Vitamin C||Raw milk but not pasteurized can resolve scurvy. “. . . Without doubt. . . the explosive increase in infantile scurvy during the latter part of the 19th century coincided with the advent of use of heated milks. . .” (Rajakumar, Pediatrics. 2001;108(4):E76).|
|Calcium||Longer and denser bones on raw milk (Chapter 14 from History of Randleigh Farm-PDF).|
|Folate||Carrier protein inactivated during pasteurization. (Gregory. J. Nutr. 1982, 1329-1338).|
|Vitamin B12||Binding protein inactivated by pasteurization.|
|Vitamin B6||Animal studies indicate B6 poorly absorbed from pasteurized milk (Chapter 14 from History of Randleigh Farm-PDF).|
|Vitamin A||Beta-lactoglobulin, a heat-sensitive protein in milk, increases intestinal absorption of vitamin A. Heat degrades vitamin A. Said and others (Am J Clin Nutr. 1989;49:690-694. Runge and Heger. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Jan;48(1):47-55).|
|Vitamin D||Present in milk in protein-bound form, assimilation possibly affected by pasteurization. Hollis and others ( J Nutr. 1981;111:1240-1248).|
|Iron||Lactoferrin, which contributes to iron assimilation, destroyed during pasteurization.|
|Iodine||Lower in pasteurized milk. Wheeler and others (J Dairy Sci. 1983;66(2):187-95).|
|Minerals||Lactobacilli, destroyed by pasteurization, enhance mineral absorption (MacDonald and others. 1985).|
Economic Potential of Raw Milk
CONVENTIONAL SITUATION: Thirty cows in a confinement situation; high-protein feed to increase milk production; cows produce 190 hundredweight of milk each year; farmer sells milk to co-op and receives about $12 per hundredweight:
- Income is about $1.50 per gallon or $68,400 per year
- Farmer receives no subsidies (only corporate farms get these)
- Farmer has high cost of feed, vet bills, replacement cows, artificial breeding, interest on equipment loans.
In 2002, dairy farms in the U.S. went out of business at the rate of 16 per day.
DIRECT SALES OF RAW MILK FROM PASTURE-FED COWS: Thirty cows on 100 acres; cows are fed grass, hay and silage from the farm; cows produce 100 hundredweight each per year.
- Income on raw milk or raw dairy products is $4 – $8 per gallon, or $150,000 – $300,000 per year.
- If the farmer is making cheese, cream or butter, he has whey and skim milk, free food for pigs
- Additional farm income from pork, beef, eggs, chicken, produce, etc., possible in a diversified farm based on dairy, could be $50,000 – $100,000 per year.
- Total gross income to farmer $200,000 – $400,000 per year
- Costs for feed, vet bills, interest are much lower; no replacement cow costs.
RURAL REVIVAL: Every $1 earned on the farm = $5-7 for the local community; if 10 percent of the population would buy raw milk and other products directly from the farm, we would need 75,000 farms, all making at least $200,000 per year. Raw milk sales hold the potential for a huge rural revival.
CURRENT SITUATION FOR RAW MILK SALES
- Retail sales are legal in 10 states
- On-farm sales are legal in 15 states
- Herdshares are legal in 4 states
- There is no law on herdshares in 6 states
- Pet food sales are legal in 4 states, implying that human consumption is feasible
- Raw milk sales are illegal in 11 states and the District of Columbia
SITUATION IN EUROPE: Raw milk sales legal in England, Wales and most of Europe; sold in vending machines in several European countries.