Consuming raw milk or its by-products can make anyone sick, but especially the weak

May 31, 2024, 12:19 PM by Mary Urbani


It was 163 years ago that Louis Pasteur published his theory known as “the germ theory”.  He stated that bacteria cause disease.  His theory was not immediately accepted but his research challenged the existing theory of spontaneous generation (living organisms spontaneously developing from nonliving matter, the apparent appearance of life in supposedly sterile environments).  163 years ago we didn’t know that germs lived on our hands, in our saliva, in our bodily fluids.  163 years ago we didn’t know that it was essential for surgeons to wash their hands much less that the child care workers would need to wash their hands.

Working with beer brewers who were having problems with the bacteria used in fermentation, he found that if he heated the brew to a certain temperature for a certain length of time the brew did not sour or go bad. Three years later he developed “pasteurization” for milk which killed harmful organism such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid fever. This process, pasteurization, is named after him.

This history lesson is to bring attention to the importance of only drinking pasteurized milk or pasteurized milk products. Raw milk is milk from a cow, sheep, goat or any other animal whose milk is consume.  Raw milk can also be used to make products such as cream, cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, frozen yogurt and pudding. Consuming raw milk or its by-products can make anyone sick but is especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems such as transplant patients, or with cancer or diabetes, plus children, older adults and pregnant women.  Pregnant women run a serious risk of becoming ill with the bacteria Listeria which can cause miscarriage or illness and death of the newborn. Most healthy people will recover from an illness caused by raw milk but some can develop life-threatening illness.

Recently it has been discovered that milk cows were getting sick for a few days.  It was also noted that the cats living around the milking barns were dying. Cats were infected with bird flu (avian influenza) from drinking raw cow’s milk.Pasteurized milk has been tested and has been found to have genetic material of the avian influenza but no living virus andno chance of infection.

Why would anyone drink raw milk?  Some people believe that pasteurization makes it less healthy by changing the nutrition or that it causes lactose intolerance or milk allergy. These beliefs are not true.

In most states it is illegal to sell raw milk.  Those states that sell raw milk have more outbreaks of the disease bacteria and viruses in raw milk. In Texas raw milk can be directly sold to the consumer at the producing farm.

If there is any concerned about whether the milk you are buying is safe, you should see the word pasteurization on the label. Pasteurization does not mean that it is safe to leave milk out of the refrigerator, particularly if it has been opened.

By itself raw milk does not kill pathogens.  The cats died.


Dr. Sally Robinson

Keeping KIds Healthy

May 2024


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