Some Raw Facts About “Raw” Milk
and Other Health Issues
Is fresh (“raw”) milk risky? Yes, of course. There are risks in everything. But how risky is so-called raw milk? Here are some important comparisons.
All dairy products accounted for just 3.7% of food-borne illnesses between 1990 and 2003.
Meat products accounted for 28% of the total, and produce was not far behind at 20%.
Why don’t public health professionals make these comparisons? 1) They are professionals, by training and disposition inclined to focus on the question at hand and not the larger picture. 2) They are public health professionals, dedicated to eliminating any possible threat to health. 3) They work from a textbook history of milk production that mistakes late nineteenth century urban dairies and disease outbreaks for the rule throughout history.
1Scallan E, Griffin PM, Angulo FJ, Tauxe RV, Hoekstra RM “Foodborne Illness Acquired in the United States—Unspecified Agents,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 17, No. 1, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 2011. Accessed 10/3/11. URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1701.P21101 .
2National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia. URL:http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx.
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8
4 Caroline Smith DeWaal, Giselle Hicks, Kristina Barlow, Lucy Alderton, and Leora Vegosen, “Foods Associated with Foodborne Illness Outbreaks, 1990-2003,” Food Protection Trends, Vol. 26, No. 7, pp. 466-473, July 2006.
5Extrapolated from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, Atlas of Exposures, 2006-2007, p. 13. Accessed: 10/3/2011. URL: http://www.cdc.gov/foodnet/surveys/FoodNetExposureAtlas0607_508.pdf.
7“Bacteria That Sickened 16 Matches Wisconsin Farm’s,” News8000.com. Accessed: 10/3/11. URL: http://www.news8000.com/news/Bacteria-that-sickened-16-matches-Wisconsin-farm-s/-/326/124494/-/131nq3f/-/index.html.
8 The CDC reports 2 deaths between 1998 and 2008. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Raw Milk Questions and Answers.” Accessed: 10/3/11. URL: http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk/raw-milk-questions-and-answers.html#risks