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Raw Milk and Your Health

Raw milk has not been pasteurized, a process that removes disease-causing germs by heating milk to a high enough temperature for a certain length of time.

Raw milk can be a source of foodborne illness, which can casue vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, and body aches. Raw milk may also contain listeria, which can result in miscarriages or serious health complications for those with weakened immune systems. While good practices on farms can reduce the risk of contamination, consuming raw milk is more dangerous than drinking pasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk offers the same nutritional benefits without the risks of raw milk consumption.

What is pasteurization?

Pasteurization uses heat to kill viruses, germs, and other disease-causing substances in raw milk. Consuming raw milk can lead to serious health risks, especially for certain vulnerable populations.

Pasteurization extends a product’s shelf life, and, more importantly, reduces food-borne illnesses

Pasteurization has greatly reduced milk-borne illnesses since the early 1900s and is considered one the great public health discoveries of the last 100 years!

Choosing pasteurized milk and dairy products is the best way to safely enjoy the nutritional benefits of milk.

Raw Milk and A(H5N1) Virus‎

There is currently no evidence to indicate that consuming raw milk containing the H5N1 virus will protect you from potential illness

A common misconception is that people can develop immunity to viruses, like H5N1, by drinking raw milk that contains the live virus.

FACT: Consuming a live virus does NOT protect you from the disease the virus causes. It will most likely give you the disease and make you sick.

The only way to be inoculated against a disease is by using a vaccine, many of which use weakened or inactive forms of the virus to make your body develop an immune response without actually exposing you to the full-strength virus and the illness that goes with it.

CDC recommends against consuming raw milk contaminated with live A(H5N1) virus as a way to develop antibodies against A(H5N1) virus to protect against future disease. Consuming raw milk could make you sick.

Milk-borne Disease Prevention

  • Choose pasteurized milk and dairy products.
  • Refrigerate perishable foods at 40°F or colder to slow bacterial growth. Never leave perishable food out for more than two hours -- or one hour if exposed to temperatures above 90°F, like in a hot car or at a picnic.
  • Throw away expired or spoiled food. When in doubt, throw it out.