Naturally, milk and milk products provide health benefits to one’s body. But raw milk is unpasteurized and harbors dangerous microorganisms that pose risks to human health. These microorganisms include campylobacter, cryptosporidium, E. coli, listeria, and Brucella. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported about 127 outbreaks associated with raw milk or raw milk products such as cheese, yoghurt, and ice cream. All animals including cows, sheep, goats, camels and even buffalos produce raw milk.

How Milk is Pasteurized

Pasteurization is a process that involves heating milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time to kill harmful bacteria. This process increases the product’s shelf life. Commonly, the milk is heated to 161.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 72 degrees Celsius for 15 to 40 seconds.

After which the pasteurized milk is homogenized, a process that involves applying extreme pressure to the milk to disperse the fatty acids more evenly improving taste and appearance. Pasteurized milk is safe and provides a nutrient base. Some people continue to believe that pasteurized milk changes the milk’s nutritional benefits. However, according to research, the nutritional benefits of drinking milk are available in pasteurized milk too.

Why Will Raw Milk Make You Get Sick

When you drink raw milk you expose yourself to infection. Milk contamination can make you sick and it may occur in the following ways:

  • From animal disease such as bovine tuberculosis.
  • Skin bacteria available in most animals.
  • Infection of the udder like mastitis.
  • Animal feces that come into contact with milk.
  • An unsanitary condition in the milk processing plant.

Symptoms and Illnesses

Symptoms of infections due to raw milk include diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, abdominal pain, dehydration, nausea, and fever. Bacteria caused by itcan lead to serious conditions such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, miscarriage, hemolytic uremic syndrome, reactive arthritis, and chronic inflammation. Additionally, children, pregnant women, older adults and those with a weak immune system are at high risk of disease contamination if they drink raw milk.


Reports of foodborne outbreak continue to rise as a result of consuming any contaminated food. In recent years, 60 percent of the 4413 reports of dairy-related illnesses in the US were from raw dairy including cheese and milk. Out of these outbreaks, 82 percent of them were from raw milk. During that time, those affected by consuming raw milk about 90 percent of them required hospitalization. Cases of outbreaks, hospitalization and death rates continue to increase. As a way to curb the ongoing outbreak, countries such as Canada, Australia, and Scotland have banned it for human consumption. Additionally, American states prohibited its sale. However, the states that have legalized sale of the raw dairy have seen a rise in the number of outbreaks.

Unverified Claims of the Benefits

There is no proven claim of the benefits of raw milk. Their dvocates say that the milk is a natural food containing amino acids, antimicrobials, minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids than pasteurized milk. They also continue to claim that:

1.It’s High in Fatty Acids.

Studies have found no difference in the fatty acid levels between raw and pasteurized milk. In fact, pasteurized milk increase digestibility of fatty acids. According to a study done on a single dairy where cow’s milk was divided into raw and pasteurized found that there were no significant differences in fatty acids.

2.Pasteurizing Destroys Proteins

Milk is made up of 80 percent casein protein and 20 percent whey protein. A cup of pasteurized milk packs 7.9 g of proteins. Casein protein isn’t reduced by pasteurization because it’s heat stable. Whey, on the other hand, is more susceptible to heat damage and pasteurization has minimal impact on its digestibility and nutritional composition. In a study, 25 healthy people who were drinking either raw or pasteurized milk for a week found that the proteins from pasteurized product had the same human biological activity as raw milk.

3.It Has More Antimicrobials

Milk is a great source of antimicrobials such as immunoglobulin, lysozyme, lactoferrin, bacteriocins, oligosaccharides, lactoperoxidase and xanthine oxidase. These antimicrobials control harmful microbes and delay milk spoilage. Refrigerating milk, whether pasteurized or raw, reduces their activities. Pasteurized milk reduces only lactoperoxidase activity by 30 percent while the other antimicrobials remain unchanged.

Bottom Line

No doubt, raw milk is natural and may contain more antimicrobial, but its health claims aren’t completely correct. There is no comparison between the health benefits of i with its potential risk. Its potentially more unsafe in regard to the severe infections caused by harmful bacteria.

All images by Pixabay


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