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Review: Drinking Raw Milk Carries Increased Risk Of Foodborne Illness vs. Pasteurized Milk

Risks Of Consuming Raw Milk Are Well Established In Scientific Literature; Potential Benefits Still Unclear

Baltimore, MD—A recent analysis by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) concluded that drinking raw milk “carries an increased risk of foodborne illness as compared to drinking pasteurized milk.”

“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,” researchers noted. “The potential benefits on the other hand, are still unclear and would benefit from further investigation.

“We are left with a large uncertainty about the potential benefits of raw milk but with a clear understanding of the microbial hazards from consuming raw milk,” the researchers added.

The CLF analysis was prepared at the request of the Maryland House of Delegates’ Health and Operations Committee as state lawmakers considered relaxing regulations that currently prohibit the sale of raw milk in Maryland.

In the 2014 legislative session, House Bill 3 aimed to legalize the on-farm sale of raw milk in Maryland. The bill was tabled as lawmakers considered the issue. The CLF team presented its report to the House of Delegates last month.

The CLF research team’s charge from the Maryland House of Delegates was to review the scientific literature concerning the risks and benefits of both raw and pasteurized milk.

The scope of the review was limited to direct comparisons of health risks for raw and pasteurized fluid cow’s milk. Researchers excluded literature that focused exclusively on non-bovine milk or other dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and buttermilk.

The review was intended to be an objective evaluation of the claims that health benefits of raw milk outweigh any potential risks.

As of December of 2014, 30 states permitted the sale of raw milk, usually allowing small amounts to be sold directly at local farms or through “cow share” programs, the review noted.

There are “inherent risks” in consuming both raw and pasteurized milk, the review noted; pasteurization is not a sterilization technique and post-pasteurization contamination can occur.

“The articles we reviewed, however, clearly suggest that the risk of microbial hazards in raw milk is substantially higher than in pasteurized milk,” the review explained. “Further, raw milk is more likely to contain Send me more information.