Research shows raw milk dramatically increases risk for illness

April 8th, 2015 Other News

BALTIMORE — Researchers discourage the consumption of raw milk, especially by children, pregnant women and the elderly. An analysis conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) found that the risks of drinking raw (unpasteurized) cow’s milk are significant.

Consumers are nearly 100 times more likely to get foodborne illness from drinking raw milk than they are from drinking pasteurized milk. In fact, the researchers determined that raw milk was associated with over half of all milk-related foodborne illness, even though only an estimated 3.5 percent of the U.S. population consumes raw milk.

Based on their findings, the researchers discourage the consumption of raw milk, which some claim is healthier and tastes better than pasteurized milk.

They note that the risks are better understood than the benefits, and that further research is needed to determine whether the health benefit claims are legitimate.

The CLF analysis was prepared at the request of the Maryland House of Delegates’ Health and Operations Committee as lawmakers considered relaxing regulations that currently prohibit the sale of unpasteurized milk in Maryland.

In the 2014 legislative session, H.B. 3 aimed to legalize the on-farm sale of unpasteurized milk in Maryland. The bill was tabled as legislators considered the issue. The research team presented its report to the House of Delegates last month.

Raw milk has become more popular in recent years, even though in many states it is only available for direct purchase at farms.

Advocates believe that raw milk, which contains more natural antibodies, proteins and bacteria than pasteurized milk, is healthier, cleaner, tastes better and reduces lactose intolerance and allergies in certain people.

Pasteurizing milk

Pasteurization, named after Louis Pasteur, involves heating milk to destroy microbes that may have entered the milk supply from fecal contamination, dairy operations, cow udders or other sources.

The treated milk is then hermetically sealed to prevent recontamination.

“Ultimately, the scientific literature showed that the risk of foodborne illness from raw milk is over 100 times greater than the risk of foodborne illness from pasteurized milk,” said report lead author Benjamin Davis, a CLF-Lerner Fellow and doctoral candidate in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences.

“Although potential benefits related to the consumption of raw milk would benefit from further investigation, we believe that from a public health perspective it is a far safer choice to discourage the consumption of raw milk,” he continued.

How it worked

For their study, a team of investigators led by Keeve Nachman, PhD, director of the Public Health and Food Production Program at CLF and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School, screened approximately 1,000 articles and reviewed 81 published journal articles relevant to the health risks and benefits of consuming raw cow’s milk.

Microbial contaminants commonly found in milk include infectious Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria species along with the Escherichia coli type O157:H7.

These bacteria can cause foodborne illness in humans, including diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, fevers, and sometimes more serious consequences such as kidney failure or death.

“The risks of consuming raw milk instead of pasteurized milk are well-established in the scientific literature and in some cases can have severe or even fatal consequences,” noted co-author Cissy Li, a CLF research assistant and doctoral candidate with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences.

“Based on our findings, we discourage the consumption of raw milk, especially among vulnerable populations such as the elderly, people with impaired immune systems, pregnant women, and children,” Li continued.

American Academy of Pediatrics warns against consuming raw milk

December 17th, 2013 Other News

WASHINGTON — In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises pregnant women, infants and children to consume only pasteurized milk, cheese and other milk products, and supports a ban on the sale of raw milk in the U.S.

The policy statement, “Consumption of Raw or Unpasteurized Milk and Milk Products by Pregnant Women and Children,” reviews evidence of the risks of consuming unpasteurized milk and milk products in the U.S., especially among pregnant women, infants, and children.

“Given the progress we have made in prevention, there is no reason to risk consuming raw milk in this day and age,” said Jatinder Bhatia, MD, a co-author of the policy statement. “Consumption of raw milk products is especially risky for pregnant women, infants, immunocompromised individuals, and the elderly, and the evidence overwhelmingly establishes the benefits of pasteurization on food safety.”

Limiting the sale

Efforts to limit the sale of raw milk products have been opposed by people who claim there are health benefits from natural factors in milk that are inactivated by pasteurization.

However, the benefits of these natural elements have not been clearly demonstrated in scientific research. Numerous data show pasteurized milk provides the same nutritional benefits as raw milk, without the risk of deadly infections including Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Brucella and E. coli.

Related: Ag officials, county health department, urge residents to discard raw milk

“Consumption of raw milk or milk products can result in severe and life-threatening illnesses such as miscarriage and stillbirths in pregnant women, and meningitis and blood-borne infections in both young infants and pregnant women,” said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, the lead author of the policy statement. “

Today, an estimated 1 percent to 3 percent of all dairy products consumed in the U.S. are not pasteurized.

Raw milk in the U.S.

From 1998 to 2009, consumption of raw milk products in the U.S. resulted in 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations, 93 illness outbreaks, and two deaths. The risks involved with infections due to consuming raw milk are particularly high for pregnant women and their fetuses, as well as for young children.

“Raw milk poses a significant health risk, since the process of obtaining fresh milk from cows and goats can be fraught with risks of contamination both while milking the animals and during storage,” said Mary Glodé, MD, a co-author of the policy statement. “Pasteurized milk and milk products are extraordinarily healthy, nutritious and safe for children. We are fortunate to have pasteurized products easily available for our entire population.”

The AAP supports the position of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other national and international associations in endorsing the consumption of only pasteurized milk and milk products for pregnant women, infants, and children.

The AAP also endorses a ban on the sale of raw or unpasteurized milk or milk products in the U.S., including certain raw milk cheeses. Pediatricians are encouraged to advocate for more restrictive laws regarding the sale and distribution of raw milk and raw dairy products.

Ag officials, county health department urge residents to discard raw milk

August 9th, 2013 Other News

(This story was updated Aug. 9 at 11 a.m.)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Consumers and retailers who purchased raw milk from Green Acres Jersey Farm, 725 Prescott Road, Lebanon, should discard it immediately due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination found in a recent sample collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Tests

The raw milk sample was collected from the farm during required routine sampling by a commercial laboratory July 29, and later tested positive for the bacteria.

Green Acres Jersey Farm, owned by Jonathan Smoker, sells directly to consumers and in an on-farm retail store. The packaged raw milk is sold under the Green Acres Jersey Farm label in plastic gallon and half gallon containers, labeled as “raw milk.”

Agriculture officials have ordered the owner of the farm to stop the sale of all raw milk until further notice. Two samples taken at least 24 hours apart must test negative before the farm can resume raw milk sales.

Regulations

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Pennsylvania law allows farms to sell raw milk but requires the farms to be permitted and inspected by the agriculture department to reduce health risks associated with unpasteurized products. There are 160 farms in Pennsylvania permitted to sell raw milk or raw milk cheese.

Symptoms of Listeriosis usually appear within 1-3 weeks, but may appear after as little as 3 days or as long as 70 days after consumption. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If the infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions can occur. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness, but infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

To date, the Pennsylvania Health Department is not aware of any illnesses related to these products. Any person who consumed a product from Green Acres Jersey Farm and has symptoms should consult their physician, visit their local state health center or call 877-724-3258. For more information about Listeriosis, visit www.health.state.pa.us.

Also, the Allegheny County Health Department is advising local residents to discard raw milk produced by “Your Family Farmer” in Chambersburg, Franklin County, and sold under the label “The Family Cow,” because of potential bacterial contamination.

The Family Cow, owned and operated by Edwin Shank, sells directly to consumers in an on-farm retail store and at drop off locations and retail stores around Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, as well as south-central Pennsylvania.

Locations

The product is sold at seven locations in Allegheny County: Eichner’s Family Farm in Wexford; East End Food Co-op in Point Breeze; and directly to consumers at five drop-off points throughout Allegheny County.

The drop-off points are in Ross, McKnight Road, parking lot beside Jo Ann Fabrics; Bethel Park, parking lot behind Tony’s Auto Center and South Hills Church of Nazarene; Swissvale, Getz Memorial Park; Green Tree, parking lot of Beth El Congregation; and at Pittsburgh Mills, Wal-Mart parking lot.

Cases

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has confirmed two cases of Campylobacter infection in people who consumed the raw milk. Based on a consumer complaint, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture collected raw milk July 29 from “Your Family Farmer” Dairy and positive test results for Campylobacter were confirmed Aug. 5.

Symptoms

People who consumed raw milk and have prolonged diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain should contact their health care provider for testing and possible treatment. There have been no recently confirmed Campylobacter cases in Allegheny County thus far.

Earlier this May five people consumed unpasteurized milk from Your Family Farmer and suffered illnesses confirmed to be related to Campylobacter. The dairy has ceased production until further notice.

CDC says majority of dairy-related disease outbreaks linked to raw milk

March 28th, 2012 Other News

WASHINGTON — The rate of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk (often called raw milk) and products made from it was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 13-year review also revealed the states where the sale of raw milk was legal had more than twice the rate of outbreaks as states where it was illegal.

Details

The study reviewed dairy product outbreaks from 1993 to 2006 in all 50 states. The authors compared the amount of milk produced in the U.S. during the study period (about 2.7 trillion pounds) to the amount that CDC estimates was likely consumed raw (1 percent or 27 billion pounds) to determine the 150 times higher rate for outbreaks caused by raw milk products.

Raw milk products include cheese and yogurt.

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.

Laws

The study also reported that seven states changed their laws during the study period.

Consumers can’t tell if raw milk is safe to drink by looking at, smelling or tasting it. Even under ideal conditions of cleanliness, collecting milk introduces some bacteria. Unless the milk is pasteurized, these bacteria can multiply and grow in the milk and cause illness.

Pasteurization involves heating milk to kill disease-causing bacteria. This study shows an association between state laws and the number of outbreaks and illnesses from raw milk products, said Robert Tauxe, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases.

Restricting the sale of raw milk products is likely to reduce the number of outbreaks and can help keep people healthier.

Young milk drinkers

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, deputy chief of CDC s DFWED Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch.

Additionally

Among other key findings: Thirteen percent of patients in raw milk outbreaks were hospitalized compared to 1 percent in pasteurized milk outbreaks. This may be because raw milk outbreaks were all caused by bacteria, such as E. coli O157, which tend to produce more severe illnesses, according to the study.

Pasteurized milk and cheese outbreaks were often caused by relatively mild infections like norovirus and Staphylococcus aureus.

To view the study, visit www.cdc.gov/eid. For more information about raw milk, visit www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk/raw-milk-index.html.

Raw milk: Both sides of the issue need to be addressed

February 28th, 2012 Other News

Editor:

I would like to discuss some of the remarks made by Mr. Scott Shalaway. A while back he wrote in the Farm and Dairy that people should pen their cats up. Well the farmer’s barn cats roam at will and kill birds now and then but it keeps the mice and rats out of the barn. The rats and mice, if not kept under control, can destroy a lot of the farmer’s feed for their livestock.

What really upset me was a remark that Shalaway made on the radio on Feb. 14. He was trashing the dairy farmers who sell raw milk. The dairy farmer was on the radio show before Shalaway and I am sure he knows more about raw milk than Shalaway does. The farmer knows a lot about nutrition, plus the farmer knows how to milk a cow, and I’ll bet Shalaway does not.

Milk has to be kept clean and the milk needs to be cooled as soon as possible after it is taken from the cow. I have drank raw milk all of my l life and I am close to 80 years of age. I can remember when they sold raw milk in Centerville (a town close to where I live) but I never heard of anyone getting sick from the milk.

Milk that is not properly taken care of will make you sick. Two percent milk at our senior center does not even taste near as good as raw milk. I feel everyone has a right to their opinion but if you are going to talk about a subject such as this one, both sides of the subject matter should be addressed.

J. M. Corbett

Belmont, Ohio

Survey finds five states have adopted stricter regulations on sale of raw milk

August 29th, 2011 Other News

WASHINGTON — The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has released updated results from a raw milk survey. NASDA conducted a raw milk survey, in cooperation with the National Association of Dairy Regulatory Officials, to gather current information about the regulation and sale of raw milk in the U.S.

Definition

Raw milk is defined as milk that has not been pasteurized. The Center for Disease Control strongly discourages consumption of raw milk as pathogens from raw milk can result in kidney failure, paralysis and fatality, in some cases.

This survey is NASDA’s third collection of data since 2004. In 2008, 50 states participated in the survey and 30 states allowed raw milk sales. NASDA’s new data reflects no change in the number of states permitting unpasteurized milk sales both on the farm and in retail markets.

The 2011 data shows the same 30 states allowing raw milk sales. Likewise, the same 20 states still prohibit the sale of raw milk to consumers. Five states have adopted stricter quality standards to regulate the sale of raw milk since the 2008 survey.

Of the 30 states where raw milk sales are allowed in some form, 13 states restrict legal sales to occur only on the farm where the milk is produced. The survey shows that 12 other states allow the sale of raw milk at retail stores separate from the farm. The remaining five states restrict the availability of raw milk to special markets or have compound regulations.

NASDA represents the commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the state departments of agriculture in all 50 states and four territories. The information for this survey was received from the NADRO members in each state.

Results

Of the 50 respondents, 30 states authorize the legal sale of raw milk, in some specified manner, for direct human consumption. The remaining 20 states prohibit the sale of raw milk to consumers. The following data represents the 30 states that allow raw milk sales in some form.

Sales of raw milk restricted to the farm:

• Thirteen states restrict legal sales to occur only on the farm where the milk is produced (AR, IL, KS, KY, MA, MN, MS, NE, NY, OK, RI, TX, WI).

• Four of these states (MN, WI, OK, IL) further restrict sales to only incidental occurrences (i.e., occasional; not as regular course of business; no advertising.)

• Kansas allows sales directly to the consumer on the farm with minimal on-farm advertising.

• Four states (AR, KY, MS, RI) restrict sales to goat milk only, with two states (KY, RI) also requiring a prescription from a physician.

• Five states have a coliform standard for milk sold only on-farm (ID, MA, NY, OR, TX).

Sales of raw milk at retail stores separate from farm:

• 12 states allow the sale of raw milk at retail stores separate from the farm (AZ, CA, CT, ID, ME, NH, NM, NV, PA, SC, UT, WA).

• One of the 12 (UT), requires the store to be owned by the producer, even though it can be located off of the farm.

• Another state (SC) allows the sale of raw milk both on and off the farm and at farmers markets if a permit is obtained. Further, farmers must provide retail stores with a warning plaque to be displayed in front of the raw milk.

• Of these 12 states, all 12 have a total coliform standard.

• Nine states have a coliform standard of < 10/mL (AZ, CA, ME, NH, NV, PA, SC, UT, WA).

• One state has a coliform standard of < 25/mL (ID)

• Two states have a coliform standard of < 50/mL (CT, NM)

• Sales of raw milk at farmers markets and states with compound regulations:

• Five states have unique regulations that do not fit in either of the categories above (CO, MO, OH, SD, VT).

• One state (OR) allows on-farm sales of raw cow’s milk only from farms with no more than two producing cows, nine producing sheep and/or nine producing goats; Only goat milk is allowed at retail off farm.

• Of the five states, one state (CO) prohibits all sales of raw milk; however, raw milk may be legally obtained through “share” operations.

• Another state (VT), authorize share operations if share owners claim on their taxes the percentage of the farm that they own. Limited amounts of raw milk may be sold at farms.

• Three states (SD, MO, VT) allow farmers to deliver to farmers’ market but not to stores.

• Of these five states, four have minimum standard requirements (MO, OR, SD, VT).

• One state has a coliform standard of < 10/mL (VT, OR).

• One state has a coliform standard of < 100/mL (MO).

• One state requires the same standards for raw milk as pasteurized milk (SD).

The sale of raw milk is prohibited in 20 States: (AL, AK, DE, FL, GA, HI, IN, IA, LA, MD, MI, MT, NJ, NC, ND, OH, TN, VA, WV, WY.)

FDA seeks injunction against Pa. dairy for producing raw milk

May 3rd, 2011 Other News

SILVER SPRING, Md., — The U.S. Justice Department, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has filed a complaint for permanent injunction against Daniel L. Allgyer, owner of the Rainbow Acres Farm, in Kinzers, Pa., for distributing unpasteurized, or raw, milk for human consumption in interstate commerce.

Complaint

The complaint, filed April 19 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, also alleges that Allgyer violated federal law by misbranding the “raw” milk containers by failing to provide the label information required by law.

Defendant Allgyer was served with the complaint April 26.

Previous warnings

“Drinking raw milk is dangerous and shouldn’t be consumed under any circumstances,” said Dara A. Corrigan, FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “FDA has warned the defendant on multiple occasions that introducing raw milk into interstate commerce is in violation of federal law.”

Production

FDA investigators determined during an inspection of Rainbow Acres Farm that the farm was producing, packaging, selling, and distributing unpasteurized and unlabeled milk for human consumption in interstate commerce.

The FDA issued a warning letter to Allgyer on April 20, 2010, informing him of the violations and stating that regulatory action might be taken. The farm has continued to operate in violation of federal law.

If the court grants an injunction, Allgyer may be prohibited from distributing unpasteurized milk and milk products for human consumption in interstate commerce.

International Raw Milk Symposium May 7 in Minnesota

April 18th, 2011 Other News

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — The increase in raw milk consumption — according to Center for Disease Control statistics, at least 10 million Americans now consume raw milk — has created innovative partnerships between consumers and their farmers.

By accepting responsibility in their food choices, Americans are paving the way to the next phase of the U.S. local food movement: Partnership with producers to ensure we have a way of providing raw milk and other healthy foods that our families require for good health.

Symposium

The Farm-to-Consumer Foundation and the Foundation for Consumer Free Choice will co-host the Third Annual Raw Milk Symposium: Producer-Consumer-Choice in Bloomington, Minn.

The event will be held May 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Bloomington. It is open to the public.

Register

Interested parties may register online or by telephone. Visit the http://www.RawMilkSymposium.org/ website to register.

The cost is $40 to attend the symposium (no meals included, 8 and younger are free). A lunch ticket is available for $25, and the Fundraiser Reception and Dinner is $100.

To register by phone, call 703-208-3276.

Wisconsin Governor says no to raw milk sales

May 20th, 2010 Chris Kick

MADISON, Wis. — Citing the interest of public health and the safety of his state’s dairy industry, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a senate bill on May 19, that would have allowed for direct farmer-to-consumer sales of raw milk.

“I recognize that there are strong feelings on both sides of this matter, but on balance, I must side with the interests of public health and the safety of the dairy industry,” Doyle said in a released statement. “I am listening to the unanimous voice of public health professionals, including leading doctors at the Marshfield Clinic and Gundersen Lutheran Health System who have found the sale of raw milk to have potentially harmful health effects.”

The legislation — known as Senate Bill 434 — would have authorized a dairy farmer with a grade A dairy farm permit to sell unpasteurized milk, buttermilk, butter, and cream directly to consumers on the farm, provided the farmer obtained a raw milk permit from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Requirements

The bill required farmers to prepare and fill containers in a sanitary manner, and display a sign indicating that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization. The bill also excluded dairymen for liability in selling raw milk products, provided they did not omit any of the required information.

The governor’s veto was well received by National Milk Producers Federation, which called the decision “a commitment to health and safety.”

In a released statement, Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF, commended the governor for protecting public health.

“Many other state dairy organizations in Wisconsin, along with the health professional community, made a major effort in the past week to provide some badly-needed perspective on the potentially deadly consequences if the state were to have passed this bill,” he said.

Other states

Federal law prohibits interstate sales of raw milk, but allows states individual discretion for regulating raw milk within their borders. Raw milk — milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized, is reported to be prohibited in 23 states.

The debate over raw milk has become a national issue, with states adopting many different policies. Currently, Pennsylvania leads the nation in dairies licensed to sell raw milk. Sales are illegal in Ohio.

Proponents of raw milk claim that pasteurization — the process of heating milk to destroy bacteria and extend shelf life — destroys important nutrients and enzymes.

Misinformation abounds: Raw milk debate continues to churn

May 10th, 2010 Other News

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As the debate about the health attributes and risks of raw milk spills into capitols and courts across the country, a food safety expert in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences is urging people to think carefully about the risks before consuming unpasteurized dairy products. Read the rest of this entry »