What are the dangers and benefits of raw milk?

Milk contains nutrients that make our body healthy. It is widely known that milk is rich in calcium. It is one of the most common foods we consume especially when it comes to taking care of our bones. There are different kinds of milk found in the market. Whole, low fat, flavored, lactose-free, and raw milk are sold and consumed by the people.

Today, there are arguments on whether raw milk is dangerous for your health or not. Some people claim that raw milk is healthier than pasteurized milk while some say that we should not consume raw milk. To answer these questions, we compared raw milk between pasteurized milk.

Raw Milk versus Pasteurized Milk

Raw milk came straight from cows. It is sold and consumed without the process of heating. It can also be identified as natural or unprocessed milk. Back in the 1900s, milk is consumed raw. It was until the emergence of milk-borne illnesses that people started to pasteurize milk.

Pasteurized milk is processed by heating milk at a high temperature. It is claimed to kill bacteria such as pathogens and increase shelf life. This ushered the implementation of commercially-produced pasteurized milk in several states and countries. Raw milk became banned in certain countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, Israel, and South Korea.

Claims on Raw Milk

These are some of the benefits of drinking raw milk according to advocates:

  1. Raw milk contains more nutrients compared to pasteurized milk.
    MYTH. Although pasteurization breaks down protein through heating, it does not result in a significant amount of loss. Pasteurized milk contains nutrients needed for the body.
  2. Raw milk can be consumed by lactose-intolerant people.
    MYTH. Raw milk and pasteurized milk both contain a certain amount of lactose.
  3. Raw milk helps prevent asthma and allergies.
    MYTH. Raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause similar allergic responses.

Dangers of Raw Milk

Raw milk remains unprocessed. Because of this, it can be considered unsafe to drink. Without heat killing the bacteria, raw milk will retain its pathogens such as E.coli, salmonella, and listeria. This could be a risk especially to children, the elderly, pregnant mothers, and those with weak immune system. Consuming raw milk might cause food poisoning. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, fever, and/or body ache.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), over 144 outbreaks related to raw milk were reported by 32 states as of 2006-2017. (Source: foodsafety.gov) Although it is a small number compared to other diseases, it is still a risk to everyone who consumes raw milk. There are still raw-milk related outbreaks as of 2019. One of which is the exposure to RB51 or Brucella Infection. It is best to be wary of what you are drinking. If you want to drink raw milk, make sure that it is from a safe market. If you are more certain in consuming pasteurized milk, check the label properly.

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