Could Raw Milk Make You Really Sick?!?

June 5, 2020

Have you ever been apart of a conversation where raw milk is brought up? Whew, watch out...right? Half the people there will say raw milk will cure everything from the wart on your nose to cancer and the other half will say that coming within 10’ of an open jar will result in your hospitalization. Okay, maybe this is an exaggeration, but seriously, raw milk is a super polarizing issue. 

And you know what, the fear surrounding raw milk is in some ways reasonable because while raw milk itself can’t make you sick, the bacteria that love to grow in milk definitely can make you really, really sick. 

Did you catch that? It’s not the raw milk that makes people sick, it’s bacteria in the milk. In fact, raw milk is so amazing that it actually can actually kill some of the bad bacteria that get into it. It is an amazing living eco system teaming with live probiotics and enzymes. So if you want to partake of this fresh creamy goodness without the fear, what do you need to do? Well, you need to make sure that you are getting milk that is produced and harvested cleanly without bacterial contamination.

One of the first steps to doing this, is knowing that there are two main ways bacteria can get into the milk. The first is through a cow who is sick and the second is through the milk being contaminated during or after someone sneezes in it or gets cow poop in it. 

Once you know this, you then need to find a farmer who knows these things too and has set up safety protocols to keep bacteria out of the milk.  They should be doing things like regularly testing their cows for disease, keeping everything super clean, using modern milking machines and sanitation and testing their milk for pathogens....often. 

When you know that it is all about the bacteria, not the milk, something else really interesting to note is that milk, no matter if it is pasteurized or not, is a great medium for bacterial growth. Multiple out breaks of things like Hep A, E Coli,  Norovirus, salmonella, and other food-born pathogens have occurred from pasteurized milk off grocery store shelves....but these outbreaks caused by pasteurized milk aren’t as publicized as raw milk outbreaks.

At the end of the day, we as humans are constantly taking calculated risks. We get in a car knowing there is a risk we could also get in an accident, but we think the rewards of travel are greater than the risks. We do the same thing each time we eat food, we may get a food borne illness, but we weigh the rewards of eating to be better than the risks of not eating. 

For my family, the benefits of raw milk shine illustriously and we long for its goodness to be ours. At the same time, though, I’m feeding it to my children and any risk to them is serious to me, thus I am fastidious about knowing the cows where the milk comes from, how it is collected and that it is tested regularly for pathogens.  Once I am confident of these things, we can enjoy this delicious and healing traditional food without fear. 

How about for your you drink raw milk or want to drink raw milk?

Savannah Hartman

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