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"Why Not to Drink Raw Milk"

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

http://fromunderhisfeathers.blogspot.com/2012/02/why-not-to-drink-raw-milk-my-story.html?showComment=1330270972242#c2814175954949080860

 

Can you talk to me about this?  I saw this blog entry this week and it has rolling around in my mind. I am pregnant, so I get a bit concerned, but honestly think the good outweighs the bad when it comes to raw milk.

post #2 of 13

It all depends on where you get your milk.

Is it a Grade A raw milk dairy (unlike the source for the author)?  Pet-grade milk should be treated as just that - for pets only.  Unless you know the dairy REALLY well and trust everything is okay.  Even if it is a Grade A raw milk dairy, most only test the milk once per week or month - that could be as little as 1 out of every 60 milkings that gets checked.  A few of the larger dairies test every batch before it goes out.  But even then you don't know how it was handled during shipping and at the store.  That's why I believe it is usually safer to buy directly from the farm (not a drop-off). 

Have you met the cows?  Watched milking?  Cows frequently try to kick off the inflations (milk machine) during milking and it sucks up dirt and dry manure from the floor.  I've seen this happen at a Grade A raw dairy and the inflation was put back on the cow like nothing happened. 

What are the cows fed?  The more grain they eat, the more likely it is for the cow to have an upset rumen and possibly shed pathogens (particularly E. coli). 

Are the cows thoroughly washed prior to milking?  Again, you would be surprised at the lack of cleanliness in a lot of dairies (though I've also seen a fair number that are absolutely pristine). 

 

As you can see, there are a lot of questions (way more than I wrote) to ask yourself and the dairy before deciding to drink raw milk.  Personally, I've kept my own milk cow for eight years - so I knew everything was up to my standards - but I've also bought milk from the select few dairies that passed my "checklist".

 

For me, the best part about raw milk is the taste.  If I don't have access to good raw milk, then I don't drink milk at all.  You can always just eat raw milk cheese - generally safer and a lot easier to find.

 

post #3 of 13

I agree that you have to be very careful about your source for raw milk. I have visited the farm ours comes from several times and asked quite a few questions about what steps our farmers take to keep the milk safe from contamination. Our farmers are extremely conscientious, and every time I've been to the farm everything has been very clean. They have earned my trust. I would never consume raw milk from a source that I don't know much about.

 

The problem with stories like the one in the linked blog post is that with raw milk, anytime anyone gets sick from it (which of course does happen) it's taken as evidence that raw milk is not a safe food. But all kinds of foods make people sick, all the time, and it isn't taken as evidence that those foods are inherently unsafe. Cantaloupe, spinach, sprouts, ground beef, peanut butter, etc are all still sold in stores and no one freaks out when you eat those foods, in spite of the fact that outbreaks involving those foods have caused quite a few deaths. Raw milk has caused small outbreaks of illness, but there's no evidence it has caused any deaths in the past few decades. Pasteurized dairy products have also caused serious outbreaks that get ignored because people seem to believe that pasteurized dairy=unquestionably safe. However, pasteurized milk sickened over 200,000 people in a months-long salmonella outbreak in the 80s. Also, there's good reason to think that about 3% of the population consumes raw milk on a regular basis. That is millions of people. If it were so dangerous, we would be seeing lots more illnesses and deaths.

 

Do people sometimes get sick from raw milk? Yes. Are the illnesses sometimes serious? Yes. But they're rare. My decision for myself and my daughter is that we will take that very, very small risk in order to reap the benefits of consuming raw milk. But OP, only you can decide your risk tolerance. I see that you're in California. For what it's worth, I would be comfortable drinking Claravale milk. There are rumors that they are currently under investigation for an outbreak, but as far as I know, it has not been confirmed at this point. But prior to that, Claravale milk has never been responsible for an outbreak since the dairy's opening in 1927. That's a pretty good safety record if you ask me. The same cannot be said for Organic Pastures, which has had a couple very small outbreaks of E. coli, but many many people consume OP milk without getting sick too.

post #4 of 13

 

 

Quote:
 Are the illnesses sometimes serious? Yes. But they're rare. 

 

 

depends on who's information you trust for this

 

a new study was just released on the 21 of Feb by the CDC- given the percentage that drink raw and the number of raw milk drinkers that do get sick you might want to read the information and make your own conclusions 

 

how rare it is really -IMO is how it effects you or when you know someone who gets sick

 

having read how rare a fellow mothering member feels now that her family was effected was very alarming, it's no longer rare to her family-that was in the local tribes section (PA/MD) due to the ongoing outbreak this area is having 


Edited by serenbat - 3/4/12 at 9:48am
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by bodhitree View Post

The problem with stories like the one in the linked blog post is that with raw milk, anytime anyone gets sick from it (which of course does happen) it's taken as evidence that raw milk is not a safe food. But all kinds of foods make people sick, all the time, and it isn't taken as evidence that those foods are inherently unsafe. Cantaloupe, spinach, sprouts, ground beef, peanut butter, etc are all still sold in stores and no one freaks out when you eat those foods, in spite of the fact that outbreaks involving those foods have caused quite a few deaths. 


This.  People get sick from tainted foods ALL the time, and yet, there is never any call to outlaw those foods.  There is a risk in whatever you eat, whether it is raw or processed.  You need to be aware of that, and decide to take that risk.

 

 

post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

 

 

 

depends on who's information you trust for this

 

a new study was just released on the 21 of Feb by the CDC- given the percentage that drink raw and the number of raw milk drinkers that do get sick you might want to read the information and make your own conclusions 

 

how rare it is really -IMO is how it effects you or when you know someone who gets sick

 

having read how rare a fellow mothering member feels now that her family was effected was very alarming, it's no longer rare to her family-that was in the local tribes section (PA/MD) due to the ongoing outbreak this area is having 


It's true that people disagree about this issue. For what it's worth, I've read that there are serious problems with the CDC's analysis. The Complete Patient blog would be the best place to look for more information on this, if you're interested. If nine million people in the US drink raw milk on a regular basis, the percentage who experience any problems is very, very low.

 

The problem with your definition of "rare" is that you're treating it as a subjective thing. It's not. Of course it's awful when someone suffers from foodborne illness. But the only way to judge how common these illnesses are is to use actual data, not emotional appeals based on whether you happen to know someone who got sick from raw milk. I know plenty of people who have gotten food poisoning from things like shellfish, chicken, and even leftover rice. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop eating any of those foods. It means I'm going to be careful about the sources of those foods and make sure I know how they have been cooked and stored...just like I do for raw milk. I don't think that's unreasonable.

post #7 of 13

 

 

Quote:
I've read that there are serious problems with the CDC's analysis. 

 

so you haven't read the report but going to a different source has more verifiable information? I don't get this-you are saying their facts are wrong?

 

Quote:
Raw milk has caused small outbreaks of illness, but there's no evidence it has caused any deaths in the past few decades.

 

and these deaths were not caused by the evidence the CDC looked at?

 

outbreaks are so small given the number of raw drinkers is so much smaller but of those the numbers really are higher then the non-raw drinkers population

 

 

 

Quote:
The problem with your definition of "rare" is that you're treating it as a subjective thing. 

 

 

from the CDC report - The study found that 13 percent of patients in raw milk outbreaks were hospitalized, compared with 1 percent of those made ill by pasteurized milk products. The 13-year review looked at more than 120 dairy product-related outbreaks that occurred in 30 states between 1993 and 2006. The outbreaks caused more than 4,400 illnesses, 239 hospitalizations and three deaths.

 

in the end, if it happens to you, it's not rare

 

 

my state allows raw milk sales for human consumption, we currently have an outbreak, the raw farmer I spoke with (not connected with the contamination) told me it is due largely in-part to non regulation on the testings (and cross contamination in this case), the farms can do a lot of what they want and this causes problems in his opinion- we have no set mandates to test for every run or at every so many bottles and each farm can do it at their will

 

-OP depending on your state you should find out all there is to know a the state level besides asking questions of the farm

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

thanks for all of the responses. I really appreciate it.

I don't know how I feel about it really. 

 

Quote:
 People get sick from tainted foods ALL the time, and yet, there is never any call to outlaw those foods.  There is a risk in whatever you eat, whether it is raw or processed.

This, I totally agree with, but keeping with the subject matter I feel as if it is comparing apples to oranges. Often times "outbreaks" are from foods that are consumed by the masses. Correct me if I am wrong, but I really don't think raw milk has a large enough volume of consumers to ignore the illnesses that occur from it.

 

This isn't the first time I have read about an illness from it, but the first time I did I thought "Ok, well that stinks, hope I never get sick from raw milk, must have been a bad dairy".

 

Now, I am concerned. I think it is totally wonderful that some children with milk allergies are able to consume raw milk. I also think that it is a wonderful source for "good bacteria".

 

That being said, when it is bad, it sounds scary!

 

 

post #9 of 13

I am not yet sure that I will jump on the raw milk train, but I listened to the podcast interview with Sally Fallon (linked to in another post) & then watched Farmaggedon & I'm definitely intrigued. So I'm starting to look into it, with an open mind to both view points (recognizing the risks & thinking about the goods, which seem numerous).

 

I came across an anti-raw milk site & I'm flabbergasted by some figures on there. There are two tables purporting to report on the number of cases/illnesses/deaths related to raw vs. pasteurized milk. I'm struck by the fact that the data seems to suggest that raw milk may be less risky than regular milk! On an anti-raw milk site?!

 

So, if anyone is curious, please take a look & let me know what I'm missing.

 

According to this site (which states it takes its data from the CDC, from 1998-present):

  • Raw milk: 129 total outbreaks, 2,245 total illnesses, 2 deaths (none due to fluid milk)
  • Pasteurized milk: 29 total outbreaks, 2,824 total illnesses, 8 deaths (3 due to fluid milk)

 

So there are more "outbreaks" with raw milk (which I figure could have something to do with over-enforcement or heavy-handed enforcement of numerous small operations) but fewer illnesses & far fewer deaths. I'm so confused (though not entirely surprised, if this is accurate). Anyone have any insight?

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Anyone have any insight?

 

 

I had mentioned about a thread that had been in the PA tribe section and the MD section (because it involved several states) - I don't know but maybe that mother would be willing to give you some answers since she went through it.

 

 

in my area - I would strongly disagree with - over-enforcement or heavy-handed enforcement of numerous small operations

I would talk to those this has effected and local dairies.

 

it really will come down with what -IMO you are willing to play with-risk vs numbers- is is just rare/OK until you see your own child vomiting blood? 

 

we weighted our milk level consumption vs non-raw organic and in our case, we looked at non-organic and why our local doesn't meet the standard we want

post #11 of 13


I wouldn't be too quick to question whether there are more real outbreaks.    Pasteurized milk is pretty much dead so of course raw milk has more bacteria than sterilized milk.  The chance of a bad one surviving would be higher.  But it also has additional nutritional benefits.  How do you weigh those against each other?  Being sterilized has both advantages and disadvantages, like many things.  There is a risk.

 

I do think that in the chain of events where bad bacteria can be killed it should happen before the milk is involved through equipment sanitation, especially.   

 

We get raw milk when we can from a friend.  I do use some raw cream and the kids and dh like drinking the milk so we do drink it.  Since I almost never drink milk I would probably skip it if I were PG just to be on the safe side.  I end up buying local "minimally-pasteurized" cream pretty regularly anyhow since the cream gets used all up from our raw milk and I use that if I have a cereal.  I tend to cook some with the raw milk and dh drinks tons of it. 

 

I appreciate that the local farm uses a lower-temp pasteurization process.  But I do not even know if that helps!  Does anybody?

 

What about butter?  Does anyone know about risk from butter made with raw milk? 

post #12 of 13

I think, as with everything in life that the militant policing of smaller dairies would make some unmanageable and bankrupt and the others astronomically expensive

 

Right now it costs about 11-12 dollars for a pint of raw cream at my local Sprouts market. I buy the Organic Pastures brand, and from what ive seen it seems to not have as many problems. Their family makes youtube videos as well showing recipes they make with the raw cream- theyre very sweet. I think theyre based somewhere in Fresno if anyone is interested.

 

But I think (and a lot of people would agree) that to have a dairy nearby with whom you have a relationship is the most ideal way to get raw milk and raw cream. Its not only lighter on the pocket, but also can hopefully but your mind a bit more at ease.

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post


I would talk to those this has effected and local dairies.

it really will come down with what -IMO you are willing to play with-risk vs numbers- is is just rare/OK until you see your own child vomiting blood? 

I totally get that. I think the same. It's just that when I see slightly more illness reported with pasteurized milk the risk just doesn't seem to be any greater with raw milk. But maybe the fact that there are more outbreaks means the chances are greater over time because they're coming from more sources. Not sure.

we weighted our milk level consumption vs non-raw organic and in our case, we looked at non-organic and why our local doesn't meet the 
standard we want

Similarly, I'm not sure the effort vs. risk vs. benefit is ultimately worth it for us as we have a good organic low-temp pasteurized milk available. But I'm still exploring as my son does like dairy but has some eczema.

Quote:
Originally Posted by littlest birds View Post


I wouldn't be too quick to question whether there are more real outbreaks.    Pasteurized milk is pretty much dead so of course raw milk has more bacteria than sterilized milk.  The chance of a bad one surviving would be higher.  But it also has additional nutritional benefits.  How do you weigh those against each other?  Being sterilized has both advantages and disadvantages, like many things.  There is a risk.

Point well taken.

I do think that in the chain of events where bad bacteria can be killed it should happen before the milk is involved through equipment sanitation, especially.   

We get raw milk when we can from a friend.  I do use some raw cream and the kids and dh like drinking the milk so we do drink it.  Since I almost never drink milk I would probably skip it if I were PG just to be on the safe side.  I end up buying local "minimally-pasteurized" cream pretty regularly anyhow since the cream gets used all up from our raw milk and I use that if I have a cereal.  I tend to cook some with the raw milk and dh drinks tons of it. 

I appreciate that the local farm uses a lower-temp pasteurization process.  But I do not even know if that helps!  Does anybody?

What about butter?  Does anyone know about risk from butter made with raw milk? 

I wonder the same as I have been seeing more & more raw milk cheeses available near me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EsteyBomberger View Post

I think, as with everything in life that the militant policing of smaller dairies would make some unmanageable and bankrupt and the others astronomically expensive

Right now it costs about 11-12 dollars for a pint of raw cream at my local Sprouts market. I buy the Organic Pastures brand, and from what ive seen it seems to not have as many problems. Their family makes youtube videos as well showing recipes they make with the raw cream- theyre very sweet. I think theyre based somewhere in Fresno if anyone is interested.

But I think (and a lot of people would agree) that to have a dairy nearby with whom you have a relationship is the most ideal way to get raw milk and raw cream. Its not only lighter on the pocket, but also can hopefully but your mind a bit more at ease.

I think this is why I haven't tried raw milk yet. I could only get it with a clear conscious (knowing it would be for my son) if I could visit the farm or somehow see their operation. But that's not so easy where I am currently.

Thanks for the responses!
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