In today’s medical news on Medscape, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a new policy statement online in Pediatrics regarding raw milk. “Pregnant women, children, and infants should consume only pasteurized milk and milk products, and the sale of raw milk should be banned in the United States”. A report on data collected by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the risk for disease is 150 times higher after consumption of unpasteurized dairy products, and that 60% of the resulting outbreaks involve children.
The AAP states, “[A]mong milk- or milk product–associated foodborne illness outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 1973 and 2009, 82% were attributable to raw milk or cheese”. They also point out that no scientific studies support any health benefits of raw milk consumption and there is “strong scientific evidence that pasteurization does not alter the nutritional value of milk.” In a 2012 article, Robert Tauxe, MD states that the data from his study demonstrates the relationship between state laws and increased incidence of illness. He states that “restricting the sale of raw milk products is likely to reduce the number of outbreaks and can help keep people healthier”. Janis Kelly reports from Medscape news that “of the outbreaks associated with unpasteurized dairy products, 75% occurred in 21 states where it was legal to sell raw milk products during the study period”.
While researching this issue, I found a 2012 anecdotal article from Mother Jones that I thought was helpful to gain some insight. Kiera Butler writes about her brief love affair with raw milk. She reports on a mother who switched her son to raw milk to help with his allergies and he ended up with kidney failure from an e.coli infection. Another case that prompted her to stop drinking it came from reading about a woman who was paralyzed as a result from campylobactor contaminated raw milk. She says, “It might taste great, but pasteurization was invented for a reason.”