Myths and facts about raw milk

Raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks.

Pasteurization is a process that kills harmful bacteria by heating milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time. Some people continue to believe that pasteurization harms milk and that raw milk is a safe, healthier alternative.  However, according to the United Sates Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, this belief could not be further from the truth. Raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms, such as salmonella, e. coli and listeria, that can pose serious health risks. Older adults, young children, immune-compromised adults and pregnant women are at highest risk of contracting these illnesses.

Here are some common myths and the proven facts about milk and pasteurization taken from

  • Raw milk DOES NOT kill dangerous pathogens by itself.
  • Pasteurizing milk DOES NOT cause lactose intolerance and allergic reactions. Both raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to milk proteins.
  • Pasteurization DOES NOT reduce milk’s nutritional value.
  • Pasteurization DOES NOT mean that it is safe to leave milk out of the refrigerator for extended time particularly after it has been opened.
  • Pasteurization DOES kill harmful bacteria.
  • Pasteurization DOES save lives.

To contact an expert in your area, visit Michigan State University (MSU) Extension expert search or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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