Raw milk safety is a hotly contested topic these days within the health food community. The truth is that CDC data proves the safety of this most nutritious and traditional of foods as analyzed and published by researcher Dr. Ted Beals MD in a 2011 edition of the Wise Traditions Journal.
Raw Milk Risk Extremely Small Compared to Risk of Other Foods
WASHINGTON, DC June 22, 2011: 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, appears 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.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Raw Milk Pathogens, What You Should Know, by Dr. Ted Beals MD
The debate of raw milk is interesting, as is the history of US legislation beginning in the early 20th century when about 25% of all food borne illness was contracted by consuming cow’s milk (majority of these persons where children). Laws went into effect to protect the public and have remained in place to do so – good to keep in mind. On a micro scale of production, raw milk produced by a clean well run dairy should be fine (though nothing is 100% free of failure). As to the comment on grass fed dairy cows being noted as safer by CDC data I can’t find that as verifiable – they may suggest it could be safer. My understanding, which is only as good as what I’ve read, is that no good science exits supporting the safety on one cow feeding method over another on milk safety. The demonstrated safety relationship is associated to well-run dairy producers who are meticulous on cleanliness, animal health observation and procedural based quality controls. Lastly, an anecdotal comment on your family not getting ill is fine, but is not valid to the premise of good science – which you seem to promote. I love raw milk cheese (make my own) and haven’t become ill, but I do not suggest to others that they eat it. I may unknowingly expose a person with a weakened or unconditioned immune system (conditioning may provide some level of protection) to becoming ill. It may be more prudent to suggest people to consider the benefits and risks for them as individuals rather than promotion – informed freedom of choice without pushing an agenda prior to our country providing at a state and/or national level meaningful legislation on raw milk production? The US doesn’t currently legislate directly (as it is considered illegal) nor do most states require the same/better safety control requirements on raw milk production as that of the EU or of member countries which choose to allow production/sale – thus they mitigate the risks of raw milk consumption more than in the US as a whole. I’m assuming/hope that some states may have legislation as strict as some EU nations – don’t know. The CDC has been monitoring this move towards broader state legalization (now over 50%) and reported a corresponding increase in the number of illnesses attributed to raw milk: up four-fold from years past. From 2007 to 2012, there were 81 outbreaks reported — an average of 13 per year that led to nearly 1,000 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations. That’s compared with just three outbreaks a year, on average, from 1993 to 2006. Most likely aligned to more folks consuming raw milk. I support the freedom of choice, but desire for states to more strictly regulate production. The deaths of two persons from a NY cheese maker last year could have easily been avoided with stricter oversight and training requirements (FDA did get involved). Many small producers get into the game with passion and creativity, but lack the basic knowledge of quality control systems. This just hurts the movement towards gaining broader access to raw milk products that are safely produced – which with my cheese I still don’t have confidence in my source of raw milk and my ability to promote it to others.
Um, where is the link to the CDC data?
Sources are indicated within the article 🙂
is it safe to drink raw milk during pregnancy? sorry for repeating already discussed questions, i read your comments that you drank raw milk in 2 of your 3 pergnancies (why not the 3rd? or was it the 1st?) but i suppose i need to hear it again (listeria concern – i read it is deadly for unborn baby)
we have a good raw milk farm close by and i like their milk a lot.
thank you very much
Tony D. Jr. M.S.
Big alternative observation being missed here. Our food inspection processes in the U.S. are miserable in general when compared to other industrialized countries (try comparing how beef is inspected here vs. Japan or Germany). pasteurizing milk is an end run around the inspection process. We are, in a word, lazier, and less concerned here.
Just read this and wonder how to interact with it.