July 14, 2024

Five Things You Should Know About Raw Milk

MilkFPBRaw milk has been making headlines lately. Despite illnesses and outbreaks associated with drinking this unpasteurized dairy product, about 1 percent of Americans drink raw milk and advocate for the right to buy or sell it in the states where they live. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has compiled several reports on raw milk. Here are five things the agency wants you to know:

Laws governing the sale of raw milk vary from state to state. About 20 states have laws prohibiting the sale of raw milk, about 30 allow some form of it.

At least 143 Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli outbreaks have been linked to raw milk since 1987. They have included serious illnesses, miscarriages, still births, kidney failure and deaths. And since E. coli infections can spread person-to-person, the risk is not just to the one who drank the raw milk.

Some advocates of raw milk believe that pasteurization causes lactose intolerance and allergic reactions. It doesn’t.

Some advocates of raw milk believe raw milk kills harmful bacteria. It doesn’t.

Some advocates of raw milk believe drinking raw milk is safe. It isn’t. The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations agree that raw milk is unsafe because it can contain pathogens.

Twenty states explicitly prohibit intrastate raw milk sales and 30 allow it. The number of foodborne illness outbreaks that are linked to raw milk and raw milk products is much larger in states that allow sales of these products. The FDA does not regulate intrastate sales or distribution of raw milk. But interstate sales and distribution of raw milk are illegal.

The piece ends with this statement, “We urge consumers who purchase raw milk to understand the health risks involved. While raw milk puts all consumers at risk, the elderly, immune-compromised people, children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the hazards of raw milk consumption.”


  1. Tami K. Hastings says

    Wonderful summation.

  2. Thank you for speaking up against the needlessly risky practice of drinking raw milk.

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