Raw milk dramatically increases risk for foodborne illness

Study says risk is 100 times greater than with pasteurized milk

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Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in Maryland have released a study which says consumers are nearly 100 times more likely to get foodborne illness from drinking raw milk than they are from drinking pasteurized milk.

In a release, the researchers said raw milk was associated with over half of all milk-related foodborne illness, even though only an estimated 3.5 per cent of the U.S. population consumes raw milk.

The analysis was prepared at the request of the Maryland state legislature, which is considering a bill to legalize the on-farm sale of unpasteurized milk. Advocates believe that raw milk, which contains more natural antibodies, proteins and bacteria than pasteurized milk, is healthier, cleaner, tastes better and reduces lactose intolerance and allergies in certain people.

“Ultimately, the scientific literature showed that the risk of foodborne illness from raw milk is over 100 times greater than the risk of foodborne illness from pasteurized milk,” lead author Benjamin Davis said in the release.

“The risks of consuming raw milk instead of pasteurized milk are well established in the scientific literature, and in some cases can have severe or even fatal consequences,” said co-author Cissy Li. “Based on our findings, we discourage the consumption of raw milk, especially among vulnerable populations such as the elderly, people with impaired immune systems, pregnant women, and children.”

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