Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CDC: More Outbreaks Where Raw Milk is Legal

A recent bill before the Indiana General Assembly stirred up significant controversy about whether "raw" or "unpasteurized" milk sales should be legal in Indiana. Ultimately, the bill did not make it out of committee, but I understand that the Board of Animal Health (BOAH) will undertake a study to determine whether raw milk can be safely sold in Indiana.

Now the Center for Disease Control ("CDC") has published a report stating that the rate of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk and related dairy products was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk.  The study finds that states that have legalized raw milk sales had more than double the rate of outbreaks than states where it was illegal over a thirteen year period.  According to the CDC:
The study included 121 dairy related disease outbreaks, which caused 4,413 illnesses, 239 hospitalizations and three deaths. In 60 percent of the outbreaks (73 outbreaks) state health officials determined raw milk products were the cause. Nearly all of the hospitalizations (200 of 239) were in those sickened in the raw milk outbreaks. These dairy-related outbreaks occurred in 30 states, and 75 percent (55 outbreaks) of the raw milk outbreaks occurred in the 21 states where it was legal to sell raw milk products at the time. The study also reported that seven states changed their laws during the study period. 
Dr. Robert Tauxe from the CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases (DFWED) concluded:  “This study shows an association between state laws and the number of outbreaks and illnesses from raw milk products.”  The study also had some harsh words for parents that feel that the health benefits of raw milk far outweigh the risks to their children:
The study also found that the raw milk product outbreaks led to much more severe illnesses, and disproportionately affected people under age 20. In the raw milk outbreaks with known age breakdowns, 60 percent of patients were younger than age 20, compared to 23 percent in outbreaks from pasteurized products. Children are more likely than adults to get seriously ill from the bacteria in raw milk.
“While some people think that raw milk has more health benefits than pasteurized milk, this study shows that raw milk has great risks, especially for children, who experience more severe illnesses if they get sick,” said study co-author Barbara Mahon, M.D., M.P.H., deputy chief of CDC's DFWED Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch. “Parents who have lived through the experience of watching their child fight for their life after drinking raw milk now say that it's just not worth the risk.”
I have a lot of respect for the CDC and the work it does.  There is little doubt that BOAH does as well, and if authorized to study whether Indiana can safely legalize raw milk sales, I am sure this study will be one of the many items discussed.

To view the study, please visit
To view the press release regarding the study, please visit:


  1. There are some in the green movement who would like to link the natural no additives what so ever in the conversation. Raw products have to be labeled and the public has to be made more aware of the consequences of using those products. The companies even the government can be sued for not letting the public have adequate knowledge of what the products are.

  2. There are 2 sides to every story. Ask someone who grew up on a farm drinking raw milk everyday sometimes still warm from being freshly expressed if they ever knew anyone who got sick from milk, and you'd have a hard time finding a yes. I think there are many more people dying a slow death from mcdonalds food-like substances that from pure, natural raw milk. Learn the facts about what pasteurization and homogenization does to the milk you are better off probably not even eating the dairy and consuming your calcium and other vitamins from other plant-based sources.

  3. This study reveals an organization between state rules and the number of periods and illnesses from raw milk products food.

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