Milk is a nutritious and tasty product. Since it is a popular staple in most homes, it's important to make sure your milk is safe. Raw milk can harbor microorganisms that can result in serious harm to you or your loved one. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has documented 800 cases of illness due to raw milk since 1998.
When milk from cows, goats, or sheep has not been pasteurized to kill bacteria, it is considered raw. The raw milk can carry numerous foodborne illnesses such as E.coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. While these bacteria can cause harm to anyone, they are especially harmful to the elderly, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.
Louis Pasteur developed pasteurization in 1864. It involves heating milk to a specific temperature for a certain period of time. The process is known for killing bacteria of harmful diseases such as typhoid fever, tuberculosis, listeriosis, diphtheria, and brucellosis. It does not change the nutritional content of milk. However, pasteurized milk still contains some nonpathogenic bacteria that can cause food to spoil. Make sure to refrigerate your milk to keep it fresh.
If you become sick from unpasteurized milk, symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Also, flulike symptoms of aches and fever can occur. The majority of people harmed by raw milk will recover. However, there are some people who suffer from chronic or life threatening symptoms. If you become ill after consuming raw products, see a healthcare provider immediately. Additionally, if you are pregnant and have ingested raw milk, you should consult a doctor regardless of whether you are sick to protect you and your baby's health.
Listeria, a pathogen found in unpasteurized milk, can lead to miscarriage, fetal death, or illness or death of a newborn. Even if the pregnant woman is not sick, the baby may be harmed. Therefore, it is important not to consumer raw milk products.
While most milk products sold in the US contain pasteurized milk, there are products on the shelves that don't. Hard cheeses such as cheddar as well as processed cheeses are safe. Check to see that cream, cottage, and ricotta cheese is made from pasteurized milk. In addition, check the label on yogurt, ice cream, and pudding. Often soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Queso Fresco, Queso Blanco, etc. are made from unpasteurized milk. It is not safe to eat these. Make sure to check the label. If you are not sure, ask your grocer.