As a kid, I drank raw milk. It didn't kill me. If I got sick from it, I have no idea, kids get sick from lots of things and just want to get back to playing baseball, we weren't thinking about how we got ill.

But you shouldn't drink raw milk, even though I adapted to it just fine, regardless of what someone selling you something tries to claim. There is a reason foodborne illnesses have plummeted from a hundred years ago and that reason is pasteurization. Dr. Hannah Gould, senior epidemiologist with the CDC's Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch, noted that even today raw milk is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalizations than any other foodborne disease.

Raw milk advocates use unscientific claims to make their case, like that raw milk increases immunity and beneficial enzymes or is fine for lactose intolerance, but just like someone claiming long-distance healing or turtle blood is some fantastic miracle thing, be suspicious when those claims revolve around the idea that Big Science is oppressing the underdog about milk.

A Food Control paper affirmed what most everyone who understands pasteurization knew; that it doesn't change the nutritional value of milk, but also debunked what raw milk people think they know, like that raw milk has some probiotic benefit or that constant exposure to raw milk from a young age means there is no risk. Like I said, I drank it as a kid - but I can also eat chicken from a street vendor in Hsin-Chu without getting hepatitis, and you should not. Being raised on a farm introduces you to lots of stuff that may protect you in the future. It can also make you really sick.

Contribution of vitaminsa to the recommended daily intake (%RDI)b based on the consumption of one large glass of raw or heat-treated milk (250 ml).a Souci et al. (2008), Andersson and Öste (1995, chap. 13), Schaafsma (1989), Belitz and Grosch (1987, chap. 10), and Walstra and Jeness (1984). bBSHC (2009). No data for vitamins B2, B5, A, D, E, K, niacin and biotin in pasteurized and boiled milk, and for vitamin K in UHT- and sterilized milk. Credit and link: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.09.035

And the farm environment system may be making the difference. Picking one thing, like raw milk, and introducing it as some sort of super-immune system boost is not just dangerous, it lacks an evidence basis. I have no idea what else on a farm , or combination of things, mean I can eat Taiwanese street vendor chicken while most Americans would need to get a shot - but people claiming they know it is raw milk are goofy.

They conclude "consumption of raw milk poses a realistic and unnecessary health threat because of its possible contamination with pathogenic bacteria. It is therefore recommended to heat milk before consumption, especially when served to young children, pregnant women, or any person suffering from a chronic disease or a suppressed immune system."

The only benefit, notes Angela Bowman at, is in flavor, but modern processing techniques and packaging materials fix that.

Table 4 in the paper summarizes the tests and risks of raw milk versus the claims about heating nicely.

Benefit to raw milk? I don't think Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli really count. I do like the taste more, though.

Citation: Wendie L. Claeys, Sabine Cardoen, Georges Daube, Jan De Block, Koen Dewettinck, Katelijne Dierick, Lieven De Zutter, André Huyghebaert, Hein Imberechts, Pierre Thiange, Yvan Vandenplas, Lieve Herman, 'Raw or heated cow milk consumption: Review of risks and benefits', Food Control Volume 31, Issue 1, May 2013, Pages 251–262