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Raw Milk Safer than Lettuce

Are you a milk drinker? I encourage my patients who enjoy milk to seek a source for reliable raw milk, despite the alarming reputation of the associated hazards. Raw milk is easier to digest, metabolically safer, and provides a legitimate boost to the immune system. Pasteurization was developed at a time when milk handling was not just questionable but highly dangerous, spreading disease that was little understood at the time. With proper understanding of the potential for bacterial contamination, my raw milk producer boasted a spotless milking room with redundant facilities for scrubbing off every living or inanimate surface that might possibly come in contact with the milk. I knew the milk I was drinking to be safe, and have the same confidence in the other local milk suppliers I know.

But what about on a broad basis, is it safe to recommend raw milk across the board? What about its reported dangers?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal describes the work of Nadine Ijaz, MSc, describes multiple analytic approaches to the question which all yielded - contrary to the expectations of many - results affirming the relatively minor risks of consuming raw milk. In fact, today it is green leafy vegetables that confer the greatest risk of food-borne illness, while the milk samples tested yielded negligible risks for Listeriosis, often cautioned yet not actually seen in 40 years of global surveys of food borne illness. In her Grand Rounds presentation she called upon responsible public health agencies to amend their estimation of raw milk and change it to a status of "low risk". 

Very important for lettuce, but perhaps less important for raw milk, consumers would be well advised always to know your farmer and handle your food carefully!

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