Nearly one thousand people sickened by raw milk: CDC

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MilkIn spite of the fact that fewer states allowed the sale of raw (unpasteurized) milk in 2010-2012 than in the previous 2 years, the number of outbreaks of food poisoning linked to its consumption increased from 30 to 51, according to a study in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Elisabeth A. Mungai and colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluated reports of foodborne illness that had been sent to the agency, and compared the data for the two periods: 2007-2009 and 2010-2012.

An outbreak is the occurrence of at least 2 cases of a similar illness resulting from the consumption of a common food. They found that between 2007 and 2012 there were 81 outbreaks associated with raw milk, and that these resulted in 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations. The researchers found that of the outbreaks attributable to a single microbe, Campylobacter was far and away the most likely cause it was responsible for 81 percent of those outbreaks.

Although sales of raw milk were legal in only 20 states in 2010-2012, as compared to 28 states in the earlier period, nearly 20 percent of the outbreaks occurred in states where sale of raw milk was prohibited. In these cases, the investigators reported, most of the sources of raw milk were from dairy farms, and some were from so-called cow share or herd share arrangements. Thus, they pointed out The legal status of nonpasteurized milk sales in 1 state can also lead to outbreaks in neighboring states.

Such bacterial foodborne illnesses can have serious consequences for the elderly, the immune-compromised, and children, including kidney failure and death. Yet some individuals continue to believe that raw milk can provide health benefits, an opinion that has never been scientifically substantiated. Some believe that pasteurization, which involves briefly heating milk for example to 161 degrees for 20 seconds destroys its nutritional value, which is completely untrue.

This idea that raw milk is somehow superior to pasteurized milk is totally baseless, scientifically and medically, stated ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava. The craving for raw milk is based on the idea that so-called natural or unprocessed foods are superior, but this is simply not true. Drinking raw milk is playing Russian roulette with one s health, she continued.

More information about the risks of raw milk can be found on the CDC s website.