Dont Drink Unpasteurized Raw Milk Due to its Potential Risk of Harmful Bacteria

Dont Drink Unpasteurized Raw Milk Due to its Potential Risk of Harmful Bacteria

Food that hasn't been prepared safely may contain bacteria like E. coli. Unsafe food can also spread food-borne illnesses like salmonellosis (pronounced: sal-muh-neh-low-sus) and Campylobacter (pronounced: kam-pye-low-bak-tur) infection. The good news is you can keep on top of bacteria and food-borne illness by playing it safe when buying, preparing, and storing food.


Most foods naturally contain small amounts of bacteria that pose no harm to people. But when food is poorly handled, improperly cooked or inadequately stored, bacteria can multiply quickly and cause food poisoning.Foodborne illnesses affect millions of Americans each year.Most foodborne illnesses are caused by eating food containing certain types of bacteria or viruses. After a person has eaten these foods, the microorganisms continue to grow, causing an infection. Foods can also cause illness if they contain a toxin or poison produced by bacteria growing in food.

Several different kinds of bacteria can cause food poisoning. Some of the common bacteria include:

Salmonella and Campylobacter - normally found in warm-blooded animals such as cattle, poultry, and swine and may be present in raw meat, poultry, eggs, or unpasteurized dairy products.

Clostridium perfringens - may be present in raw meat, poultry, eggs, or unpasteurized dairy products, as well as in vegetables and crops that come into contact with soil. Infection may occur when soups, stew, and gravies made with meat, fish, or poultry are stored improperly or left unrefrigerated for several hours.

Campylobacteriosis;a bacterial infection of the digestive tract caused by Campylobacter.These organisms may be found in food or water contaminated by pets or wild animals or in unpasteurized milk. Infection with Campylobacter may happen after you drink contaminated water or eat inadequately cooked food, especially poultry. Food can get contaminated when someone who is infected prepares food without washing their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom. The infection is especially likely to spread from person to person in day care centers and other institutional settings.

Yersiniosis is an uncommon bacterial infection in the intestine that is usually severe ;caused by Yersinia bacteria. Most often people become infected by eating contaminated food, especially raw or undercooked pork products. You can also become infected by drinking unpasteurized milk or untreated water (such as well water) that has been contaminated with the bacteria. Sometimes the infection occurs after contact with infected animals.

Listeriosis is a bacterial infection caused by eating contaminated food.The type of bacteria that causes the infection is named Listeria monocytogenes. The bacteria are found in the soil and in some dairy products, such as raw, unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses made from raw milk.Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to have listeriosis. Newborns may be born with the infection and may be much sicker than their mothers.

Raw milk is milk that has not been processed via pasteurization or homogenization before consumption. The taste and digestibility are different, but there is no consensus as to whether it is healthier than processed milk.The beneficial bacteria (probiotics) of pasteurized milk promote good health by crowding out bad bacteria (competitive exclusion) and help prevent yeast overgrowth in the intestinal tract, such as of Candida.Pasteurization enables the milk industry to raise cows in less-expensive, less-healthy (constrained, crowded and filthy) conditions. Organic raw milk produced in such industrial conditions would, as critics charge, be very unhealthy.Raw milk will sour naturally due to the bacterial production of lactic acid (such as Lactobacillus acidophilus), and still be healthy, whereas pasteurized milk, which lacks the healthy bacteria, will only putrefy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reminding consumers of the dangers of drinking milk that has not been pasteurized, known as raw milk. Raw milk potentially contains a wide variety of harmful bacteria – including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella – that may cause illness and possibly death.

Consuming raw milk may be harmful to health. From 1998 to May 2005 CDC identified 45 outbreaks of foodborne illness that implicated unpasteurized milk, or cheese made from unpasteurized milk. These outbreaks accounted for 1,007 illnesses, 104 hospitalizations, and two deaths. This is based on information in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the week of March 2, 2007. The actual number of illnesses was almost certainly higher because not all cases of illness are recognized and reported.

Consumers who become ill after consuming raw milk, and pregnant women who believe they consumed contaminated raw milk or cheese made from raw milk, should see a doctor or other health care provider immediately.

Symptoms of illness caused by raw milk vary depending on which harmful bacteria are present. Symptoms may include but are not limited to: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache and body ache.

Most healthy people will recover from illness caused by harmful bacteria in raw milk or in foods made with raw milk within a short period of time. But some individuals can develop symptoms that are chronic, severe, or even life-threatening. Illnesses caused by pathogens found in raw milk can be especially severe for pregnant women, the elderly, infants, young children and people with weakened immune systems.

Since 1987, in order to better protect consumers from such risks, FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. Pasteurization, a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time, kills bacteria responsible for diseases such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. FDA's pasteurization requirement also applies to other milk products, with the exception of a few aged cheeses.

Proponents of drinking raw milk often claim that raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk and that raw milk is inherently antimicrobial, thus making pasteurization unnecessary. Research has shown that these claims are myths. There is no meaningful nutritional difference between pasteurized and raw milk, and raw milk does not contain compounds that will kill harmful bacteria.

In fact, raw milk, no matter how carefully produced, may be unsafe. The CDC, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the Association of Food and Drug Officials and other organizations have endorsed the pasteurization of milk and restriction of the sale of products containing raw milk. Because even pasteurized milk contains low levels of nonpathogenic bacteria that can cause food to spoil, it is important to keep pasteurized milk refrigerated.

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