The Raw Milk Debate

There has been a lot of debate lately, especially with all the renewed focus on organic eating and living, around the idea of raw milk. It back in mid 1987 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first pasted regulations that required all commercially sold milk to be pasteurized. The reason for this was to make the milk safe and to kill bacteria. Raw milk has been shown to contain many different types of pathogens, such as salmonella and E. coli. Of course these pathogens are well known for causing many severe food-borne illnesses that can lead to hospitalization and even death. It is this reasoning that has become the focal point of the debate.

Those who support the right to consume raw milk say the regulations and laws are unfair to milk farmers. They support their stance by pointing out that farmers can sell raw meat and raw vegetables which are the two largest carriers of food-borne illness known today. They argue that raw milk shouldn't be treated differently and should be seen on the same level playing field as other fresh or raw produce. Fans of raw milk say it taste better, is sweeter and can also help fight conditions such as allergies, digestive problems, arthritis and boosts immunity, benefits that are destroyed by pasteurization. The FDA and other public health officials, however, point out that these claims aren't supported by research.

Supporters of pasteurization stand by the history surrounding the issue. They point to the fact that before it was required to undergo pasteurization, raw milk accounted for over a quarter of all of the serious outbreaks of food-borne illness. Now after the pasteurization process has become standard procedure, when looking at all types of dairy products, they account for only about 1 percent of outbreaks. And of that 1 percent, 70 percent of those are caused by raw milk or raw milk products. So for them, it is easy to see why pasteurization is a good thing and why it should be required in order to protect the health and safety of the population.

There is no real right or wrong stand on this debate. There is evidence to support both sides and plenty of personal opinions and preferences as well. For now the regulations remain and it is still difficult to find raw milk. This may change in the future but for now, the debate still continues on stronger than ever.


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