American Academy of Pediatrics warns against consuming raw milk

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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.

10 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Stats are incomplete and misleading. There are far more illnesses from pasteurized milk, and the 2 deaths were from homemade cheeses, not from liquid milk. The whole story is found on the FDA’s own website, you can read the report. If you compare illnesses and deaths it is obvious raw milk is safer than meats, lettuces, nuts, fruits etc… Although unpasteurized milk is more “dangerous” than pasteurized (albeit slightly) it is still safer than most produce available.

  2. Nathan says:

    So… in just over a decade 2 people died from non-pasturized milk. 2. As in the number before 3 and after 1? 2? The number of people killed by medical malpractice is about 195,000 a year according to google searches and these people are concerned with stopping something that killed 2 people in 11 years?

    “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.”

    195,000 divided by 1,837. You are about 106 times more likely to be KILLED by your doctor screwing up than to get SICK drinking unpasteurized milk. And that’s not breaking the milk illness down by year.

    Why the sudden surge of anti-fresh milk propaganda in the media lately?

  3. Alek says:

    As usual, there is NO mention of the fact that there is a HUGE difference between factory farm milk, and milk from healthy, PASTURED cows on small farms. Of course you’ll get sick if you drink commercial dairy raw – the cows are given antibiotics, hormones, and who knows what. Not from milk from healthy, pastured cows. Big difference. Why don’t they do a study comparing raw milk from factory farms, and small family farms with pastured cows – gee, I wonder why? Maybe because it’d prove that raw milk from healthy cows is perfectly safe – and healthy?

    Methinks the dairy industry and ‘ag officials’ are feeling threatened by more and more people going to small family farms for their food. This isn’t about ‘health’ (It’s perfectly ok to sell GMO ‘foods’ in this country, and unlabeled yet, but they’re complaining about raw dairy? Please.). This isn’t about health. It’s about profit.

    • Frances says:

      I don’t know Alek, apparently you already did that study and what were your results?? All dairy cows can carry potentially deadly bacteria in the milk. Do a little research.

    • Alek, you can certainly get sick from milk from cows raised on pasture. Poor management is poor management, no matter the size of the dairy or the type of the dairy. Just because a cow is raised on pasture doesn’t mean it’s 100% healthy, or the milking equipment is clean, or a host of other reasons that trigger poor quality milk.

      All milk is tested before it leaves any farm, and if there are any elevated levels of bacteria or antibiotics, it is rejected.

      If anyone is interested in learning more, here’s a great, unbiased, research-based link from eXtension.org: http://www.extension.org/pages/21197/how-milk-quality-is-assessed#.UrC9OfZQ3yM. You might be particularly interested in reading the section on Standard Plate Counts, which lists all the reasons why milk might have elevated levels of bacteria, which have nothing to do with pasture vs. confinement, and everything to do with individual farm management.

  4. so true says:

    FINALLY< thank you AAP!
    Raw milk in dangerous and should be treated as abuse from people that feed this to babies and toddlers

  5. chris says:

    People should not be drinking cows milk. Baby cows should be drinking cows milk.

  6. FED UP & POd FARMER says:

    Thls “philosophy” is outrageous. The ENTIRE focus on the “raw milk” consumption movement is VERY simple: People have the RIGHT to CHOOSE what to feed themselves AND their family. To ban a certain food is a VIOLATION of the freedoms and rights of US citizens-PERIOD !!! This society is becoming MUCH MORE dangerous than ANY poison by forcing laws and regulations onto our citizens-it is DESTROYING this country and all that it stands for. People NEED to stay the hell out of others’ lives and mind their own business !!!

    As a dairy farmer, I will be the first to say that alot of the milk produced today-irregardless of what type of farm it is produced on-confined OR pastured-is contaminated. This is ENTIRELY due to milking dirty cows that have manure on their teats OR contamination from utensils or even milk handlers-there have been cases of milk handlers not washing their hands after using the bathroom and contaminating milk.. Even though many farms “predip” before milking, some manure will stay on and contaminate the milk. This is due to the fact that profits per cow is so low (money made from the sale of milk minus the cost of the feed of the cow) that farmers cannot survive on low herd numbers as in the past, so they have to increase their herd size , and are forced to make milking as quick as possible thus do NOT have time to properly clean the cows. There are very few farms I personally would want to drink raw milk from aside from my own. If one does choose to purchase raw milk-make sure that the cows’ udders are thoroughly WASHED, dried, stripped, then dipped with sanitizer proior to wiping and hooking up to be milked. This is too time consuming for most dairies to even consider doing.

    My last point..living itself is dangerous. Hands-down, many more people and children are killed in automobile accidents and MANY other ways-yet no one is proposing banning them. No one forces anyone to consume raw milk-if you dont want it, simply do not drink or purchase it-but you have NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to tell someone else they cannot purchase or consume it, any more than they have a right to tell you that you cannot purchase or utilize transportation because it may be deadly. People need to start MINDING THEIR OWN BUSINESS!!!!

    • docsock says:

      As a dairy farmer, you should not try to justify poor practices for any reason. If cows are coming into the parlor on a daily basis so dirty that there is “no time” to clean them properly, perhaps some major management practices need to be addressed. If stalls are clean, properly sized, and properly bedded, cows should be relatively clean when they come in. Of course you always have one or two that insist on laying where they shouldn’t or have days hectic days where maybe bedding wasn’t added to the stalls in time, but none of this is ever reason to not properly clean and sanitize teats.

  7. docsock says:

    This is ridiculous. Exactly what we need, more “regulation”. This article makes it sound as though raw milk is forced upon people, as if they have no choice in what they consume. Most people who consume raw milk do so out of their own free will and many go out of their way to purchase it from a farmer they trust. A lot of raw milk sales are done so through PRIVATE treaty, in a buyers club or a cow share operation where purchasers know the risks proceed with caution because they prefer the nutritional benefits of unpasteurized dairy products. Key word there was private, meaning for FDA goons and gov’t officials to mind their own d*%m business. Peopel have been consuming raw milk for centuries. The “risk” has only increased due to poor practices on modern dairy farms. If the AAP is so worried about “risky” products that are fed to our kids, perhaps they should aim their regulatory guns at the fast food industry or at energy drink manufacturers that produce unhealthy, high calorie products with little nutritional value. Perhaps it should be considered abuse for parents to feed their kids McDonalds and Red Bull everyday?
    This will never happen of course because for some reason this country has allowed big business and big gov’t to turn against the little guy. It’s not mega dairies selling raw milk on a large scale, it’s small dairy farms doing so as a way to increase profits in an increasingly unprofitable business. Legislation like this is unfair, un-American, and flat out bullspit.

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