Raw milk - Related Links

Open Access Articles- Top Results for Raw milk

Raw milk

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. While proponents have stated that there are benefits to consuming raw milk, the medical community has warned of the dangers of consuming unpasteurized milk.[1] Availability and regulation of raw milk vary from region to region.

History of raw milk and pasteurization

Humans usually consumed raw milk before the invention of the pasteurization process in 1864. Pasteurization was first used in the United States in the 1890s after the discovery of germ theory to control the hazards of highly contagious bacterial diseases including E. coli, bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis that was thought to be easily transmitted to humans through the drinking of raw milk.[2] Initially after the scientific discovery of bacteria, no product testing was available to determine if a farmer's milk was safe or infected, so all milk was treated as potentially contagious. After the first test was developed, some farmers actively worked to prevent their infected animals from being killed and removed from food production, or would falsify the test results so that their animals would appear to be free of infection.[3][4]

Pasteurization is widely used to prevent infected milk from entering the food supply. The recognition of many potentially deadly pathogens, such as E. coli 0157 H7, Listeria, and Salmonella, and their presence in milk products has led to the continuation of pasteurization. The Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other health agencies of the United States strongly recommend that the public do not consume raw milk or raw milk products.[5] Young children, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to infections originating in raw milk.[6]

Re-pasteurization occurs when pasteurized milk from the US mainland is transported by sea to Hawaii, and then pasteurized again.[7]

Recent advances in the analysis of milk-borne diseases have enabled scientists to track the DNA of the infectious bacteria to the cows on the farms that supplied the raw milk.[8]

Raw vs. pasteurized debate

Those favoring the consumption of raw milk believe that raw milk and associated products are healthier and taste better. Those favoring the consumption of pasteurized milk consider the pathogen risk associated with drinking raw milk unacceptable.

Agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, and other regulatory agencies around the world say that pathogens from raw milk, including potentially tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid, and streptococcal infections,[9] make it unsafe to consume.[10][11] Similarly, a recent review authored by the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain and experts from Belgian universities and institutions concluded that "raw milk poses a realistic health threat due to a possible contamination with human pathogens. It is therefore strongly recommended that milk should be heated before consumption. With the exception of an altered organoleptic [flavor] profile, heating (particularly ultra high temperature and similar treatments) will not substantially change the nutritional value of raw milk or other benefits associated with raw milk consumption."[12]

Raw milk advocates, such as the Weston A. Price Foundation, say that raw milk can be produced hygienically, and that it has health benefits that are destroyed in the pasteurization process.[1] Research shows only very slight differences in the nutritional values of pasteurized and unpasteurized milk.[5][12]

Three studies have found a statistically significant inverse relationship between consumption of raw milk and asthma and allergies.[13][14][15] However, all of these studies have been performed in children living on farms and living a farming lifestyle, rather than comparing urban children living typical urban lifestyles and with typical urban exposures on the basis of consumption or nonconsumption of raw milk. Aspects of the overall urban vs. farming environment lifestyle have been suggested as having a role in these differences, and for this reason, the overall phenomenon has been named the "farm effect." A recent scientific review concluded that “most studies alluding to a possible protective effect of raw milk consumption do not contain any objective confirmation of the raw milk's status or a direct comparison with heat-treated milk. Moreover, it seems that the observed increased resistance seems to be rather related to the exposure to a farm environment or to animals than to raw milk consumption.”[12] For example, in the largest of these studies,[16] exposure to cows and straw as well as raw milk were associated with lower rates of asthma, and exposure to animal feed storage rooms and manure with lower rates of atopic dermatitis; "the effect on hay fever and atopic sensitization could not be completely explained by the questionnaire items themselves or their diversity."[16]

Legal status

Regulation of the commercial distribution of packaged raw milk varies across the world. Some countries have complete bans, but many had partial bans that do not restrict the purchase of raw milk bought directly from the farmer. Raw milk is sometimes distributed through a program, in which the consumer owns a share in the dairy animal or the herd, and therefore can be considered to be consuming milk from their own animal, which is legal.[17] Raw milk is sometimes marketed for animal or pet consumption, or for other uses such as soap making in places where sales for human consumption are prohibited.


Although milk consumption in Africa is fairly low compared to the rest of the world, in tribes where milk consumption is popular, such as the Maasai tribe, milk is typically consumed unpasteurized.


In rural areas of Asia where milk consumption is popular, milk is typically unpasteurized. In large cities of Asia, raw milk, especially from water buffalo, is typical. In most countries of Asia, laws prohibiting raw milk are nonexistent or rarely enforced.[citation needed]


File:Roquefort cheese.jpg
French Roquefort, a famous blue cheese, which is required by European law to be made from raw sheep's milk.

According to the regulations in the European Union all raw milk products are "legal" and considered "safe for human consumption", and can be sold without any price, variety or quantity restrictions. However, the European countries are free to add certain requirements. Usually special sanitary regulations and frequent quality tests (at least once per month) are mandatory.[18]


Raw milk and especially raw milk cheeses are considered the standard for high quality dairy products.[citation needed] Many French cuisine traditionalists consider pasteurized cheeses almost a sacrilege. Many traditional French cheeses have solely been made from raw milk for hundreds of years.[19]


In Germany, raw milk is sold as Vorzugsmilch.[20] This means, the raw milk has to be packed before vending, with the necessary information (Producer, durability etc.) written on the product. The distribution license has stringent quality restrictions, and so just 80 farmers in Germany have one.[21]

Unpacked raw milk can only be

  • bought at the farm itself
  • milk from that farm
  • from the day of or the day before production
  • must have a warning label "Raw Milk - boil before usage"

It is sold widely in all health food stores, large supermarkets, gourmet delis and delicatessen sections of department stores. Raw milk is legally sold in the entire country, and the same goes for raw milk cheeses, which are especially sought out and promoted by the health food and slow food movements.[22]

United Kingdom

A bottle of green-top milk

Distribution of raw milk is illegal in Scotland. While it is legal in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the only registered producers are in England.[23] About 200 producers sell raw, or "green top" milk direct to consumers, either at the farm, at a farmers' market, or through a delivery service. The bottle must display the warning "this product has not been heat-treated and may contain organisms harmful to health", and the dairy must conform to higher hygiene standards than dairies producing only pasteurised milk.

As it is only legal to supply unpasteurised milk direct to consumers, it is illegal to be sold on the High Street, via shops or supermarkets.

Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia,

These countries allow the distribution of unprocessed raw milk. This is mostly done by automatic vending machines known as "Mlekomat" or other names. An EU programme supports the farmers with 50% of their investments in vending machines.[citation needed]

North America


The sale of raw milk directly to consumers is prohibited in Canada[24] under the Food and Drug Regulations since 1991.

No person shall sell the normal lacteal secretion obtained from the mammary gland of the cow, genus Bos, or of any other animal, or sell a dairy product made with any such secretion, unless the secretion or dairy product has been pasteurized by being held at a temperature and for a period that ensure the reduction of the alkaline phosphatase activity so as to meet the tolerances specified in official method MFO-3, Determination of Phosphatase Activity in Dairy Products, dated November 30, 1981.
[25]Section B.08.002.2 (1)

Provincial laws also forbid the sale and distribution of raw milk. For instance, Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act, subsection 18(1) reads: "No person shall sell, offer for sale, deliver or distribute milk or cream that has not been pasteurized or sterilized in a plant that is licensed under the Milk Act or in a plant outside Ontario that meets the standards for plants licensed under the Milk Act."

In January 2010, Michael Schmidt was found not guilty on 19 charges relating to the sale of raw milk in the Ontario Court of Justice.[26] On appeal to the Ontario Court of Justice, that decision was overturned. Schmidt was convicted on thirteen counts and imposed fines totaling $9,150 and one year of probation.[27] A subsequent appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal was dismissed.[28]

In British Columbia, Alice Jongerden is challenging the constitutionality of that province's legislation, which deems raw milk to be a hazardous product.[29]

Meanwhile, Canada does permit the sale of raw milk cheeses that are aged over 60 days. In 2009, the province of Quebec modified regulations to allow raw milk cheeses aged less than 60 days provided stringent safeguards are met.[30]

United States

In the early 20th century many states allowed the sale of raw milk that was certified by a "medical milk commission",[31] effectively allowing an alternative of extra inspection for pasteurization. Now most states impose restrictions on raw milk suppliers due to concerns about safety. Twenty-eight U.S. states allow sales of raw milk.[32] Cow shares[clarification needed] can be found, and raw milk purchased for animal consumption in many states where retail for human consumption is prohibited. The sale of raw milk cheese is permitted as long as the cheese has been aged for 60 days or more.[33]

The FDA reports that, in 2002, consuming partially heated raw milk and raw milk products caused 200 Americans to become ill in some manner.[34]

Many governmental officials and the majority of public health organizations hold to the need for pasteurization. Before pasteurization, many dairies, especially in cities, fed their cattle on low-quality food, and their milk was rife with dangerous bacteria. Pasteurizing it was the only way to make it safely drinkable. As pasteurization has been standard for many years, it is now widely assumed that raw milk is dangerous.[35] The Cornell University Food Science Department has compiled data indicating that pathogenic microorganisms are present in between 0.87% and 12.6% of raw milk samples.[36]

Proponents of raw milk (in the U.S.) advance two basic arguments for unpasteurized milk. They state that pasteurization destroys or damages some of the milk's nutrients, and that while pasteurization may kill dangerous bacteria, it also kills off good bacteria that raw milk supporters have stated to have health benefits.[37] The United States Food and Drug administration has stated that this is false, and that pasteurizing milk does not destroy any of its nutritive value.[11][neutrality is disputed]

Proponents also invoke the benefits of direct-marketing when promoting the sale of raw milk. The ability of the farmer to eliminate the middle-man and sell directly to the consumer allows for greater profitability. Many manufacturers sell small-scale pasteurization equipment, thereby allowing farmers to both bypass the milk processors and sell pasteurized milk directly to the consumer. Additionally, some small U.S. dairies are now beginning to adopt low-temperature vat pasteurization.[38] Advocates of low-temperature vat pasteurization note that it produces a product similar to raw milk in composition and is not homogenized.

Alongside the ongoing empirical debate, food freedom advocates cite libertarian arguments in claiming a basic civil right of each person to weigh the risks and benefits in choosing the food one eats.[39][40][41]



The sale of raw milk for drinking purposes is illegal in all states and territories in Australia, as is all raw milk cheese. This has been circumvented somewhat by selling raw milk as bath milk.[42] An exception to the cheese rule has been made recently for two Roquefort cheeses.[43] There is some indication of share owning cows, allowing the "owners" to consume the raw milk,[44] but also evidence that the government is trying to close this loophole.[45]

In 2014, after a 3 year old died of haemolytic uraemic syndrome and 4 other children became seriously ill, the Victorian government created new regulations which require producers to treat raw milk to reduce pathogens, or to make the product unpalatable to taste, such as making it bitter.[46][47]

New Zealand

Raw milk products can be made and sold in New Zealand, but is highly regulated to offset the pathogen risk. Raw milk for drinking can only be sold directly from a producer (the farm gate) and only in amounts suitable for personal consumption (up to 5 litres).[46][48]


Raw yak milk is allowed to ferment overnight to become Yak butter. Some cheeses are produced with raw milk although local statutes vary regarding what if any health precautions must be followed such as aging cheese for a certain amount of time.[49]

A thick mixture known as Syllabub was created by milkmaids squirting milk directly from a cow into a container of cider, beer,[50] or other beverage.[51]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Terri Peterson Smith (31 August 2010). "Got E. coli? Raw Milk's Appeal Grows Despite Health Risks". Scientific American. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  2. An Impossible Undertaking: The Eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis in the United States, Alan L. Olmstead and Paul W. Rhode, The Journal of Economic History (2004), 64 : 734-772 Cambridge University Press, Copyright © 2004 The Economic History Association, doi:10.1017/S0022050704002955
  3. Not on My Farm!: Resistance to Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication in the United States, Alan L. Olmstead and Paul W. Rhode, January 2005, The Journal of Economic History (2007), 67 : 768-809 Cambridge University Press, Copyright © 2007 The Economic History Association, doi:10.1017/S0022050707000307
  4. "Not on My Farm pdf" (PDF). 
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Dangers of Raw Milk: Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk
  6. Raw Milk and Cheeses: Health Risks are Still Black and White
  7. "Microbiological Quality of Pasteurized Milk in Hawai`i". 
  8. The Raw-Milk Deal
  10. "FDA and CDC Remind Consumers of the Dangers of Drinking Raw Milk". US FDA. March 1, 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Dangers of Raw Milk: Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk". 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Claeys, Wendy L.; Sabine Cardoen, Georges Daube, Jan De Block, Koen Dewettinck, Katelijne Dierick, Lieven De Zutter, André Huyghebaert, Hein Imberechts, Pierre Thiange, Yvan Vandenplas, Lieve Herman (May 2013). "Raw or heated cow milk consumption: Review of risks and benefits". Food Control 31 (1): 251–262. doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.09.035. 
  13. Perkin MR, Strachan DP (June 2006). "Which aspects of the farming lifestyle explain the inverse association with childhood allergy?". J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 117 (6): 1374–81. PMID 16751000. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2006.03.008. 
  14. Waser M; Michels KB; Bieli C et al. (May 2007). "Inverse association of farm milk consumption with asthma and allergy in rural and suburban populations across Europe". Clin. Exp. Allergy 37 (5): 661–70. PMID 17456213. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2006.02640.x. 
  15. Loss G, Apprich S, Waser M, Kneifel W, Genuneit J, Büchele G, Weber J, Sozanska B, Danielewicz H, Horak E, van Neerven RJ, Heederik D, Lorenzen PC, von Mutius E, Braun-Fahrländer C. GABRIELA study group. The protective effect of farm milk consumption on childhood asthma and atopy: The GABRIELA study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011;128:766–773. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.07.048.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Illi S; Depner M, Genuneit J, Horak E, Loss G, Strunz-Lehner C, Büchele G, Boznanski A, Danielewicz H, Cullinan P, Heederik D, Braun-Fahrländer C, von Mutius E; GABRIELA Study Group (June 2012). "Protection from childhood asthma and allergy in Alpine farm environments-the GABRIEL Advanced Studies.". J Allergy Clin Immunol 129 (6): 1470–7. PMID 22534534. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.03.013. 
  17. Drew Falkenstein (November 12, 2009). "Cow Share Agreements: Fooling Nobody". Food Safety News. 
  18. Commission Regulation (EU) No 605/2010 of 2 July 2010 laying down animal and public health and veterinary certification conditions for the introduction into the European Union of raw milk and dairy products intended for human consumption (OJ L175, 10.7.2010, page 1)
  19. Understand France: The best cheeses are made with raw milk.
  20. Information about raw milk production by the German raw milk industry (no English version available)
  22. One of the leading German newspapers, Der Tagesspiegel, writes about raw milk, raw cheeses and the controversy in the US compared to the legal and normal status in Germany and Europe (no English version)
  23. The Association of Unpasteurised Milk Producers and Consumers, Hardwick Estate Office, Whitchurch-on-Thames, Reading RG8 7RB
  24. "Statement from Health Canada About Drinking Raw Milk". 
  26. Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, C. H.7, Sections 18(1), 18(2) and 100 (1) Milk Act, R.S.O. 1990, R. v. Schmidt 2010 ONCJ 9 CanLII
  27. R. v. Schmidt, 2011 ONCJ 482
  28. R. v. Schmidt, 2014 ONCA 188
  30. Quebec to allow raw-milk cheeses
  32. Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. "State-by-State Review of Raw Milk Laws". 
  34. Linda Bren (2004). "Got Milk? Make Sure It's Pasteurized". US Food and Drug Administration. 
  35. Ann Monroe. "Trafficking in Raw Milk". MSN Lifestyle. 
  36. "Raw Milk Sales & Consumption - Position Statement". 
  37. "A Campaign for Real Milk/The Weston A. Price Foundation". 
  38. Cookson Beecher (August 12, 2010). "Raw Milk Alternatives". 
  39. Mark Nugent (July 23, 2013). "The Fight for Food Rights (Review of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights: The Escalating Battle Over Who Decides What We Eat by David Gumpert)". The American Conservative. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  40. "The menace of moo-shine - Saving America from raw milk". The Economist. June 1, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  41. Soleil Ho (March 18, 2010). "The Frothy Dream of Raw Milk". The Heavy Table. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  42. Dr John D’Arcy (2012-08-12). "White lies: The truth about raw milk". Yahoo 7 News. Retrieved 2014-11-08. 
  43. "Roquefort cheese can now be sold in Australia". 
  44. "Farmer uses cow shares scheme to fight raw milk sales ban". ABC Online. 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2013-05-30. 
  45. "raw milk pathogens" (PDF). 
  46. 46.0 46.1 "Victoria to introduce tough raw milk laws". The Age. 28 December 2014. 
  47. "Victoria launches crackdown on sale of 'raw' unpasteurised milk". The Guardian. 28 December 2014. 
  48. "Manufacturing raw milk products". New Zealand Food Safety Authority. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  49. "Food Safety News-raw milk". 
  50. "The Experienced English Housekeeper, 1769". 
  51. "Syllabub". 

External links