Raw milk has been the source of numerous outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and other outbreaks in recent years. Although advocates of drinking raw milk believe there are health benefits, the risks certainly outweigh them.
An article from the Baxter Bulletin today highlights the debate over the purported benefits of raw milk versus the safety of our food supply and the duties of public health officials who must work to prevent outbreaks of Campylobacter and other foodborne illnesses:
Advocates of raw milk are behind legislative efforts in Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and Nebraska to legalize selling raw milk. Moves to introduce legislation have begun in North Carolina and Maryland.
Raw milk appeals to consumers who seek natural and unprocessed foods, to those with health concerns who believe it has curative powers, and most recently to a new wave of evangelical Christians who follow the teachings of Jordan Rubin’s The Maker’s Diet, a Bible-based diet of unprocessed foods.
But this is a dangerous game, public health officials say.
In June, more than 58 people in Wisconsin became ill with Campylobacter jejuni from unpasteurized cheese curds.
In January, five people became ill with campylobacteriosis after drinking raw milk from a dairy in Larimer County, Colo.
In December 2005, six children in Washington state were infected with a potentially deadly form of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria from drinking unpasteurized milk.
No matter how clean the cows or the barn, all milk contains fecal material, says William Keene, senior epidemiologist in Oregon’s Acute and Communicable Disease Program.