Fresh, Unprocessed (Raw) Whole Milk: Safety, Health and Economic Issues

Safety-FreshMilk-600x626The 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 (TestimonialsMichigan-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.

Raw Milk Nation Map from Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, click for larger

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.

Raw Milk Vending Machine in Italy

37 thoughts on “Fresh, Unprocessed (Raw) Whole Milk: Safety, Health and Economic Issues

    • Sally Fallon MOrell replies: Raw milk is very good for the immune system, it actually helps build the immune system. To make sure it is OK for you, start very slowly, with just a tablespoon of raw milk at room temperature, and build from there.

  1. Does flash chilling affect the health benefits of raw milk? I can’t find information regarding this

    Thank you!

  2. My husband and I love the taste and freshness of raw milk and have been using it regularly now for about two months. Unfortunately, we have both developed symptoms of persistent, recalcitrant epigastric pain unrelated to diet or lifestyle. Our only change has been the raw milk. After doing some research (I am a health professional and can discern reputable sites from shams) we learned that Helicobacter pylori (which causes GI ulcer disease and GERD)can be transmitted through raw cow’s milk. We are staying away from it for now while we get treated. I hope the milk turns out not to be the cause because we love it!

    • It would make more sense that the helicobacteria was already there and is becoming noticeable as your body heals from different conditions. If helicobacteria can swim in stomache acid then you know they were present in you and now are being manifest in a different form from the ingestion of milk.

    • Traditionally milk is consumed warm , heating milk reduces pathogens and bacteria. In south Asian countries milk is boiled before consuming.

  3. i used to buy raw goats milk in the middle of a large sprawling area in florida…… ya gotta get creative. Now in kentucky i buy raw milk for my DOGS BATH…………… the seller goes to great lengths to keep the milk clean for my DOGS BATH. I have never had the DOG get sick from the milk i bought and its a shame the seller can only sell it for NOT HUMAN CONSUMPTION…………but afterall the GOVERNMENT KNOWS WHAT IS BEST FOR US, DOSENT IT!?……………..

    soon we willl have our own goats for milking and this problem will not be a problem…………..JUST BE THANKFUL YOU DONT GET ALL THE GOVERNMENT THAT YOU PAY FOR.

  4. Just tell them its for your dogs.

    When I was in nursing school, I stopped milking and breeding because there would be no time for a year and a half. In that time, I went to the fair with coolers, and asked the goat show owners for their milk. They pour it down the drain otherwise. Such a waste. So I took it home in gallon jugs (from dollar tree) and froze it. Yes I told them it was for pigs. (I didn’t tell them I was the pig).

  5. Literally the website for the FDA disproves the points of this article. What would the Government gain from keeping the miraculous effects of raw milk from the population? Raw or pasteurized if someone with lactase impersistance drinks any kind of milk, it will upset them because they will biologically not be able to digest the milk. One would think that a food that has been claimed to strengthen bones would work, yet Countries with the highest number of people able to drink milk (some places it is up to over 95%) actually have the highest cases of osteoporosis and bone fracture. Just be realistic about milk and remember that Humans are the only species that drinks milk from a different species after weaning.

    • With all due respect I’ll get straight to the point in response to your letter, I firmly believe that you are barking up the wrong tree, the government may have nothing to profit directly but don’t you think it’s more of that its the food industry that has the upper hand to benefit the most – enough said!

  6. Just like alcohol and cigarettes a notice of caution should be displayed to consumers. Banning is crazy, my great grand parents, grand parents, parents and myself(I am 35) consumed only raw milk.
    No one should be deprived the right, the freedom to choose…
    Looks like I am living in some Terrorists states where they preach the same “doing something will result in something”
    Seriously Government gonna tell me what to eat, when to sleep and poop? In the name of health…..
    Lousy law makers and super lazy FDA folks.
    Is this what we call freedom? This is oppression , I feel like I am in slave world. I wonder why farmers are keeping quiet…. write to media -press and TV channels, your local MP and appropriate authorities at least once a month. Challenge them during election campaigns.

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

    Godspeed

  7. It’s only milk people, the stuff that came from your mother’s breast. Wash your cow, like your mother washed, and take her to the “doctor” if she’s sick. Pretty stinking easy to use your heads and not get all conspiracy theory and wacko. I’m 40 and have never been sickened by raw milk in approximately 50,000 glasses of milk since I was born, I have only gotten stronger and been able to receive academic and athletic awards. I live on milk, raw. That said, my Amish friend’s milk was not as cold as some others and went sour faster. But still, never sick, even with higher temps and related levels of stuff growing. CDC had no cases of Listeria via raw, so they stopped tracking it…. that’s how much of a none issue ignorant people are wasting time on.

  8. From this article….”RURAL REVIVAL: Every $1 earned on the farm = $5-7 for the local community” Can someone explain to me how every dollar earned on the farm is $5-7 for the local community please?

  9. Hi, In 2016 in Germany, the government also seems to be clamping down on producers of raw milk and raw milk products. There are suddenly “scandals” purportedly finding various viral and bacterial agents in raw milk when we know that hygiene has only gotten better, not worse, in the past decades. While searching for raw milk in my area of central Germany, I personally talked to a farmer a few weeks ago who had been producing “Vorzugsmilch” (government-certified raw milk) for decades. He has now effectively been prevented from selling raw milk because of such trumped-up test results and the resulting bureaucracy. Experts compare raw milk to blood in its composition, containing cancer-fighting immune complexes which are indeed destroyed by heating. But governments the world over are under pressure by industry to sell mass-produced goods. They really don’t want us to drink any kind of milk, as they can produce soy or other “milks” at a fraction of the cost for twice the price of cow’s milk. The push to vegan is less a grassroots movement than a Big Food strategy. Manufacturers can easily doctor milk products to produce allergies, and we end up drinking their fake nonmilk products. I doubt milk will be available at all in some years. The “food” products we can buy are ideally toxic enough to prevent our living beyond retirement after spending our life’s earnings on illnesses and useless and harmful treatments provided by the medical-industrial complex. Proof that governments are actively seeking to prevent our living too long: The “Public Finance Balance of Smoking in the Czech Republic” was a 2001 report commissioned by Philip Morris’s Czech division following concerns raised by the Czech health ministry that smoking’s costs outweighed its fiscal benefits.[1][2] It’s in Wiki and all over the Net, just google it. The study was conducted by Arthur D. Little and found that smokers’ early deaths and cigarette-tax revenue outweighed the costs of health-care and lost tax revenue from early death.[1] Similar studies were repeated in every major country of the world. So is Agenda 21 alive and well? Go figure. The sad thing is, even such corporations as Tobacco and Big Pharma are nonliving, machinelike entities that helpless CEO’s are powerless to stop anymore, even if they wanted to. They are too big to fail. We are in a vicious cycle no longer even controlled by human beings, but rather algorithms. The only remedy is for consumers to unify and act as a huge, coordinated group in refusing to buy a bad product. The idea of selling raw milk for pet food is great. We need more thinking like that. In Germany, raw milk can technically be sold if it has a warning label to cook it before consumption, similar to fresh meat like chicken and pork. That might work in the US as well.

  10. as a young child during the 1940’s, the only milk and other dairy we consumed was raw, including “raw yoghurt”, which was milk in a bowl left overnight — there was no refrigeration — over which we fought every morning. As there is no “raw dairy” available in this part of the country, I am eagerly awaiting the day the purchase of “raw dairy” will be possible again, as “I am now just SLIGHTLY too old” to raise my own cow, but would consume raw dairy without hesitancy.

  11. as a child in the 1940s, daily consumption of raw milk as well as “raw yoghurt” that was derived naturally just by sitting in a bowl overnight (and that we siblings fought over) caused no adverse effects, neither did the home-made butter or the fresh cream. On the day dairy products will become available in their fresh, unpasteurized state from farms raising livestock in smaller quantities on regular pastures without pesticides, I shall buy and consume milk and dairy products again for good health. Those products are available freely in Europe and the U.S.A., so why not in Canada?????

  12. Good point concerning refrigeration. When my dad shipped milk in cans, the night milking was put in cans and then a bath of cold water. Morning milk in the cans waited for the milk truck. Truck just hauled cans, not refrigerated. Also a lot of pouring in the open air from the milker to buckets to cans.

    Now, I milk my cows on my organic dairy and the milk goes directly into the bulk tank and is rapidly cooled and kept at 34 to 36°F. And, mmmmm! It’s good. (Sorry FDA, you have to drink that other milk.)

  13. Also remember that when the use of pasturization became more popular in the late 1800s people didn’t have the same knowledge about the link between germs and diseases. Cleanliness standards wearnt what they are today. Refrigerators didn’t become widely avalable till later throughout the 1900’s. That can affect the facts too. And germs are everywhere so its important that the people handling your milk and other food are doing so in the best possible way with every batch, and the only way to be sure of that is to verify for yourself. Which isnt always possible and we have to know what to look for as well. People used to consume their foods within a day or two so any germs dont multiply as much.

  14. I think everyone should be able to consume what they want when they want by their own choice without others telling them (or government control).
    BUT I also beleive in RESEARCHING all you can about EVERYTHING in our lives, not just food and take a best desition that makes sense to you.

    If children get sick, maybe you should cook it before giving to young or when the product gets a few days old, keep it properly refrigerated at ALL times, don’t take other’s words for complete truth for there are so many different facts and opinions that are all true in different circumstances. Find the truth for yourself and through testimonials.

    Go to you local farms and ask to tour the place and see how they treat the animals and the product, whatever it is, and decide if its to standard for you and your family. What is to standard to you as a healthy adult might not be right for a young child who hasnt been exposed to it before. Moderation, also, a new food product should be EASED into to get your body used to it the enzymes and vitamins and build immunity and antibodies(if needed). Just as a vaccine works by giving you weakend individual viruses that cause disease so your stronger immune system can make antibodies, so should first time users should uses these products slowly at first or cooked or partially cooked to aid in the making of antibodies to potential pathogens. This
    especially in young children who are new to the product. Breastfeading could give these antibodies from mothers who have healthily drank the milk for a long time.
    There is an interconnectedness with everything food and health, more this and less that means i need more of this other thing. Research foods in relation to your family need and history of health, eat what feels good and what you know is good, eat things that balance each other in proportion to your exercise and everythin . It is so complex it would be difficult to know and remember ever unique process and purpose.

    But there are pros and cons about everything, we all know that. Not everything is right for everyone, and there is so much to know and so much we dont know, things we forget. There is risk in everything, even worrying too much about something. Think and choose with an educated and researched mindset and you should find what will work for you, but no one way is best on every aspect to everyone.

  15. Hi, my mom lives in FL and I saw them warning people on the news down there not to drink the raw “bath milk” and pet milk. Farmers do label it as not for human consumption to get around the law but some really are producing it for non-human food standards. However I think some people drink it anyway. I would suggest that you talk to each specific farmer personally to ensure that they use the highest standards of cleanliness & refrigeration that would be applied to raw milk for humans. By designating raw milk as for pets only or as bath milk, they don’t have to follow as strict of standards as they would for human consumption, although most of them probably still do. I would suggest checking though before you drink it. FL has a long way to go.. they also don’t have licensing for naturopathic Dr.’s down there.. huge issue with me as my mom has cancer and could really benefit!

    • Jess LauraG – I’m headed for the Sunshine state in 2 weeks and wondering how I will get my FIX- a Qt a day… only there for a week no time to go looking up a farmer… visiting my son & his wife but they think I’m nuts so I can’t ask them for help looking for a reliable Brand. Any one have any ideas?

  16. I have been drinking raw organic milk for over 15 years from clean pastured cows. My two daughters were both raised on raw milk and have never tasted milk from the store…they are healthy, slim, and active (not obese like so many). I also had only raw milk while pregnant with both children and personally drink about a gallon per day…it is my go-to food and anyone who has access should avail themselves. There is nothing so rich & creamy and fulfilling:)

    • How wonderful to hear your happy experience with raw milk, Jen. I hope that everyone will someday be able to drink healthy milk.

  17. I live in Arkansas, and even though it is legal to sell unpasteurized milk not many farms do it. I found a farmer who only has 2 cows and gets about gallon a day. It is some of the best tasting milk and works very well for my needs. I hate going into the Big Box stores and find it amazing that every gallon on their shelf you see 0 cream. I make my own butter and the ice cream is to die for. Very happy and works for my needs and its only 5/gallon

  18. The fact that we have to label raw milk as pet food in FL doesn’t change the fact that it is still very healthy raw milk. It is just a loop hole that we have in FL that allows us to sell raw milk and puts the responsibility back on the consumer to check out the farm and ensure it is following healthy practices. Our farm is located in Live Oak, FL and we offer raw milk as pet food to over 300 customers in a 4 hour radius of us (Jacksonville to Tallahassee to Tampa to Ocala). Check out our site and see if we have a delivery near you. 🙂

  19. Hi Kathleen,
    I am currently writing a policy proposal to legalize the sale of raw milk in either British Columbia or all of Canada, I haven’t decided yet. Considering you wrote a similar paper, would you mind sharing some of what you found? And, if anyone else has relevant information and sources they could share, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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