The Problem with Raw Milk
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Many people assume “natural” is better. But when it comes to milk – raw can make you pretty sick.
That’s not what you’d find on websites selling raw milk and touting its superior health benefits. The truth is, raw milk ranks among the riskiest foods because of dangerous pathogens lurking there.
Raw milk can harbor parasites, viruses and a long list of bacteria. One bacterium, Salmonella, can cause severe diarrhea. Others, like Listeria, can spread to the central nervous system and, in pregnant women, can lead to miscarriage, or even stillbirth.
Another bacterium, E. coli 0157:H7, causes diarrhea in normal adults, and ten percent of victims end up in the hospital. They’re usually immunocompromised, elderly or under the age of five, with children being most at risk.
They can develop three complications: bloody diarrhea, hemolytic-uremic syndrome, which can lead to kidney failure, or the last, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which can be deadly.
You may wonder how these pathogens get into the milk? Well, they can be transferred by cow feces, cows with undiagnosed infections or bacteria on their skin, milking equipment, insects or the people working with cows.
There are so many potential sources of contamination, it’s hard for any farm to guarantee their raw milk is safe. That’s why pasteurization is so effective. It kills all pathogens by heating the milk to 161 degrees for 20 seconds.
Some people choose raw milk believing it’s healthier, but many studies show pasteurization has little effect on the nutritional value of milk. The vitamins that are affected, like thiamine, vitamin B12 and vitamin C, can be easily obtained from other foods.
Pasteurization also inactivates some enzymes in milk, but there’s no evidence they’re important to human health. If you’re considering raw milk, talk to your doctor and visit our website for legitimate sources of information.