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Raw Milk: What You Need to Know

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What is raw milk?

Raw milk is milk that comes straight from a cow, sheep, or goat. Raw milk is not pasteurized (heated to kill germs) or homogenized (processed to keep the cream from separating from the milk).

Is raw milk safe to drink?

Raw milk is not safe to drink, because it can carry harmful bacteria and other germs. Harmful bacteria include Salmonella, E coli, and Listeria.

Anyone can get sick from drinking raw milk or products made from raw milk. Products may include cream, cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, frozen yogurt, or pudding made with raw milk. Children, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, or older adults are at greater risk of getting sick.

Symptoms of illness include

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach cramps

  • Vomiting

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body ache

While most healthy people get well, the symptoms can become chronic (long term) or severe or may result in death.

Call the doctor if…

  • Anyone in your family becomes sick after drinking raw milk or eating products made from raw milk.

  • Anyone in your family is pregnant and drinks raw milk or eats products made from raw milk. The bacteria Listeria can cause miscarriage, fetal death, or illness or death of a newborn.

Food safety tips

The following are food safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Only drink pasteurized milk.

  • Only eat milk products made from pasteurized milk. If "pasteurized" is not on the label or listed in the ingredients, ask to be sure.

  • Keep pasteurized dairy products in a refrigerator that is set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

  • Do not eat any expired dairy products. Be sure to throw out expired dairy products.

For more information from the CDC visit http://www.cdc.gov/Features/RawMilk.

Facts about pasteurization

The following are facts from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

  • Pasteurizing milk does not cause lactose intolerance and allergic reactions.

  • Pasteurizing milk does not reduce its nutritional value.

  • Pasteurizing milk does kill harmful bacteria.

  • Pasteurizing milk does save lives.

For more information from the FDA visit http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079516.htm.

Listing of resources does not imply an endorsement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP is not responsible for the content of external resources. Information was current at the time of publication.

Copyright © 2013

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