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Raw Milk Risk Extremely Small Compared to Risk of Other Foods
WASHINGTON — Data gleaned from U.S. government websites and government-sanctioned reports on foodborne illnesses show that the risk of contracting foodborne illness by consuming raw milk is much smaller than the risk of becoming ill from other foods, according to research by Dr. Ted Beals, MD, appearing in the Summer, 2011 issue of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
“At last we have access to the numbers we need to determine the risk of consuming raw milk on a per-person basis,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation that provides information on the health benefits of raw, whole milk from pastured cows.
The key figure that permits a calculation of raw milk illnesses on a per-person basis comes from a 2007 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) FoodNet survey, which found that 3.04 percent of the population consumes raw milk, or about 9.4 million people, based on the 2010 census. This number may in fact be larger in 2011 as raw milk is growing in popularity. For example, sales of raw milk increased 25 percent in California in 2010, while sales of pasteurized milk declined 3 percent.
In addition, Dr. Beals has compiled published reports of illness attributed to raw milk from 1999 to 2010. During the eleven-year period, illnesses attributed to raw milk averaged 42 per year.
“Using government figures for foodborne illness for the entire population, Dr. Beals has shown that you are about thirty-five thousand times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk,” says Fallon Morell. “And with good management practices in small grass-based dairies offering fresh unprocessed whole milk for direct human consumption, we may be able to reduce the risk even further.”
“It is irresponsible for senior national government officials to oppose raw milk, claiming that it is inherently hazardous,” says Dr. Beals. “There is no justification for opposing the sale of raw milk or warning against its inclusion in the diets of children and adults.”
According to Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, “Where raw milk is concerned, the FDA has an agenda apart from protecting the public health. The agency wants to restrict and discourage the sale of unprocessed dairy products. This will have the effect of denying freedom of choice.”
“Every time there is a possible connection between illness and raw milk, government officials issue dire press releases and call for bans on raw milk sales,” says Fallon Morell. “However, these numbers fail to justify the government opposition and prove what we’ve known all along, that raw milk is a safe and healthy food.”
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nutrition education foundation with the mission of disseminating accurate, science-based information on diet and health. Named after nutrition pioneer Weston A. Price, DDS, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the Washington, DC-based Foundation publishes a quarterly journal for its 13,000 members, supports 450 local chapters worldwide and hosts a yearly international conference. The Foundation phone number is (202) 363-4394, www.westonaprice.org, email@example.com
The Weston A. Price Foundation