Is Raw Milk Really Beneficial For The Health? Scientists, Pro-Raw Food Advocates Weigh In

By Staff Writer | May 31, 2017 03:37 AM EDT

Drinking raw milk is now a trend because of the "benefits" it could have from being natural and from the endorsement from celebrities like Martin Sheen and Gwyneth Paltrow. However, the trend is cautioned by various food safety experts.

In an article published by The Guardian, a US food safety official once said that drinking raw milk is like "playing Russian roulette" with your health. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that raw milk caused illnesses to many people who drank it.

Between 2009 and 2014. 96 percent of all illnesses linked to the contaminated dairy products are caused by consuming raw milk and raw milk cheese. CDC also said that considering fewer people who consume it, it makes the unpasteurized dairy 840 times more risky than pasteurized.

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Reports also show that the consumption of raw milk does not only cause stomach problems but also death. Recently, two people in New York died after eating raw milk cheese, underscoring the deadly consequences of unpasteurized milk.

Michele Jay-Russel, a microbiologist at the University of California at Davis, started a website called Real Raw Milk Facts eight years ago to counter the "very sophisticated misinformation campaign" about the milk. She said that there are benefits of raw milk that need to consider the factors of their subject and the harms of the milk should not be downplayed.

Various scientists have been saying that pasteurization is a norm for dairy farms for a reason. The process of pasteurization is highly effective at killing germs found in raw milk like E Coli, salmonella, campylobacter and listeria that could hang around in the gut of healthy cows.

Moreover, they said that raw milk heavily relies on the farmer's skills and the cleanliness of the operation to avoid contamination. Mark McAfee, the founder of the US largest raw milk dairy farm Organic Pastures, said that producing and bottling raw milk is risky but it could be good if it's produced for human consumption.

"Yes, raw milk can be risky but I can make a very good argument that it's safer than pasteurized milk if produced expressly for human consumption," he said. The fad became prominent when Goop, Paltrow's controversial lifestyle website, recommends drinking eight glass of a goat's raw milk in order cleanse the parasites in one's body, with some swearing it if effective.

There are also several European studies that suggest raw milk in helping to lessen asthma and fewer allergies. The observation was also seen among the Amish farm children, according to various studies.

But Jay-Russel said that science is not a clear-cut as there is a need to question other factors of the studies and the observations of the Amish farm children like the proximity to animals, diet, and spending time outdoors. She also warned parents giving raw milk to children because it is "one of the riskiest foods you could give a child under five".

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