Would you like some Campylobacter or E. Coli today? Raw milk in 26 U.S. states is now the best place to get it, since most readers of Science 2.0 are not going to have the opportunity to buy chicken from a street vendor in China.

That raw milk is risky and has no benefit is not news. In 2012 the CDC showed it again but clamoring for raw milk got even louder.  It is in the news again, as part of the naturalistic fallacy that infects mostly the anti-science hippie left and a minority of people on the libertarian 'government can't regulate what diseases I should give my children' right. Like with vaccines and polio, or riding a bicycle on the freeway, just because you might have the right to do something stupid does not mean you should, and raw milk isn't better for you, it is worse. It is that simple. But it is getting more popular.

So it is not so much the 979 illnesses (that we know about) that concerns me, it is that the trend is going up rather than down. The fact is that if you drink raw milk your risk of getting sick is 150X pasteurized milk and there is zero nutritional benefit to it - it is just simply getting more popular because of diet fads linked to more 'natural' ways of living, and that is why the raw milk outbreaks were 4X higher since 2007 than they were 20 years ago.

And look at the ages impacted most:

Percentage of patients affected by outbreaks associated with nonpasteurized milk, by age and etiologic agent, United States, 2007–2012.

Small kids and people ages 20-49? What is going on there? In kids it makes sense, they have dumb parents, but among older people it is another flavor of the Hipster Doofus demographic, the sub-literates who quote Proust and their reasons for vaccine denial whenever the opportunity presents itself:


Except raw milk proponents are not just in San Francisco or Portland. That 81 percent of outbreaks happened in states where raw milk is legal makes sense. What makes no sense is the response of raw milk believers to the latest foodborne disease warning - sell more of it and make it legal in more places. Obviously that makes sense to people selling 18th century food myths, and that same logic is why we should have sold more DDT in the 1970s, more ozone-killing CFCs in the 1980s and why everyone agreed that producing more CO2 emissions in the 1990s would be the best way to prevent global warming.

And you should always eat raw chicken, since processing food is bad.

Except it isn't bad, anyone who has milked a cow (where it becomes really obvious) or seen a commercial dairy operation knows exactly how raw milk spreads disease: Cows do not care what else they are doing while they are being milked, they don't take potty breaks. And cows get diseases, just like people do. The cow could have bovine tuberculosis or mastitis.

I can't imagine why raw milk is all over my news feeds again this week but American Council on Science and Health takes the prize for most across-the-board awareness today, taking down raw milk, homeopaths, anti-vaccine beliefs, anti-GMO hysteria and Fox News in only 3 blurbs:

The takeaway: Homeopathic vaccines won't prevent Campylobacter bacteria so it is better to side with science.

Citation: Elisabeth A. Mungai, Casey Barton Behravesh, L. Hannah Gould, 'Increased Outbreaks Associated with Nonpasteurized Milk, United States, 2007–2012', Emerg Infect Dis  Volume 21, Number 1—January 2015 DOI: 10.3201/eid2101.140447