unpasteurized milkThere’s a growing trend among advocates of a natural food diet to shun pasteurized milk and products made from pasteurized milk such as cheeses, butter, yogurt, sour cream, and ice cream. However, milk is pasteurized before being bottled or processed into other dairy products for consumer safety, and new policy statements from very influential professional groups are calling on mothers to make sure babies and small children consume only pasteurized milk. The same recommendation is made for pregnant women.

These groups include:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Medical Association
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • International Association for Food Protection
  • National Environmental Health Association
  • US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • World Health Organization

Raw (unpasteurized) milk can contain bacteria, parasites, and viruses that cause illnesses that include diarrhea, stomach cramping, kidney failure, paralysis, and death. Before pasteurization, consumption of raw milk was one of the leading causes of disease and death in children. Even tuberculosis was carried in raw milk.

In 1987, the FDA banned interstate shipping of raw milk and products made from it but it is still permissible to use unpasteurized milk and milk products as long as sales occur in the same state the raw milk and raw milk products are produced.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 148 outbreaks of illness caused by raw dairy products between 1998 and 2011. The outbreaks involved 2,384 individual cases, 284 hospitalizations, and two fatalities. Most illnesses were caused by contamination of the milk by Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella microbes.

To pasteurize a food such as milk, the food must be heated to a temperature of 161 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 60 seconds. The high, sustained temperature kills the microbes in the food.

Proponents of raw milk say pasteurization diminishes nutritional value and depletes the flavor of the milk and dairy products made from pasteurization.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, however, disputes that claim, saying: “We have no scientific evidence that consuming raw milk provides any advantages over pasteurized milk and milk products.” She further states, “We see a disproportionately large number of diseases and illnesses from raw milk” products currently on the market.

Maldonado is a professor of Pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California and co-author of a statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and published in its journal, Pediatrics.

A 2011 survey by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture discovered raw milk products being sold legally in 30 US states.

Source: Whiteman, Honor. “‘Avoid raw milk products,’ pediatricians urge.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International Ltd. Dec 16, 2013. Web. Dec 22, 2013.