I drank raw milk as a kid. If you were poor and living in the country decades ago, when dairy farmers still had some measure of autonomy from government rules, you probably did too.
It didn't hurt me. That doesn't mean it's a good idea to drink it; now, instead of poor people in the country who didn't want to pay a lot for milk in a store because it was price controlled by the government, raw milk is a fad for the wealthy anti-vaccine crowd.
Claravale Farm of San Benito County, one of two raw milk dairies in the state of California, has been under quarantine because tests showed campylobacter bacteria in its products. And, no surprise, California has seen clusters of campylobacter illnesses that correlated to raw milk consumption, so state officials wanted to see if those were tied to the non-pasteurized milk.
The dairy meets minimum sanitation requirements and they can't prove the illnesses were related to the dairy so you can buy their milk again - it doesn't mean you should. When pasteurization was implemented for milk in the last century, the argument was from grumpy old white guys that newfangled science was going to ruin 'real' milk and, in true precautionary principle fashion, they argued that because it increased costs and was a government requirement, it would drive small milk producers out of business and mean less milk overall leading to higher prices for poor people. Today, 'real' milk proponents are grumpy young women, who argue that 'essential nutrients' are taken out in pasteurization so they like paying more for dairy untainted by any science or health benefits. Their brethren on the natural food fringes have been arguing for decades that all milk is bad for you and no dairy is needed at all.
Scientifically, the 'dairy is not needed' crowd is a lot more accurate than the 'raw milk is awesome' crowd. There is a negligible benefit to milk in a modern diet, its benefits are touted because it is part of our culture, but the risks when mishandled are real. People who latch on to the raw milk craze don't understand basic logic; they think if the Centers for Disease Control endorses breastfeeding because it builds a baby's immune system but says not to drink raw milk because of the risk of salmonella, the CDC is contradicting itself. It isn't. The concentration of salmonella bacteria issuing from mother to child is negligible, unless a mother's nipple has feces or an infection on it, the way cow udders can get without being noticed - but the number of salmonella bacteria in raw milk or raw eggs or uncooked chicken is substantial. This is not just fancy science, every person who cooks knows it. You don't touch cooked chicken after you handle uncooked chicken because the disease risk is not worth it.
What is the world's most dangerous food product? It isn't pink slime and it isn't the McRib, it is raw milk. Government statistics show raw milk is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalizations than any other foodborne disease, according to Dr. Hannah Gould, senior epidemiologist with the CDC's Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch.
Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria. Love it. Accept science.
Let me be clear; I'd drink raw milk today. I am not all that worried but I grew up near a dairy farm - no way is salmonella making me any sicker than I probably got as a kid but the benefit of raw milk over pasteurized milk is nonexistent so while I am not afraid to drink it, I am not paying more to do so. I also have no problem eating street chicken in Taiwan, even though most Chinese are immune to hepatitis-A and Americans are not. If you did not grow near on a dairy farm, and you suddenly begin drinking raw milk because of an organic marketing campaign, you are putting your health at risk.
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