Raw Vs. Pasteurized Milk

The dangers of raw milk consumption can be documented to the early 1900's; in some parts of the U.S. and Europe one out of every two babies died from consuming raw milk contaminated with human pathogenic microorganisms. Slowly, cities, counties, and eventually states adopted laws and regulations prohibiting the sale of raw milk for direct human consumption. A federal regulation (21 CFR 1240.61) that prohibited the interstate sale of raw milk for direct human consumption was adopted in 1987. As a result of pasteurization, the prevalence of foodborne illness associated with dairy products has been reduced to less than 1 percent of total outbreaks, although a very large percentage of the population consumes these products. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that from 1998 to May of 2005, there were 45 outbreaks that implicated unpasteurized milk, or cheese made from unpasteurized milk. These outbreaks accounted for 1,007 illnesses, 104 hospitalizations, and two deaths. Recent research investigations have shown that raw milk may contain a diverse array of pathogenic microorganisms (e.g. Listeria, Salmonella, Yersinia, Mycobacterium, Campylocbacter, E. coli O157:H7, and others).