Americans food habits are changing. We drink less milk and eat more cheese. We drink a lot less milk than most places in Europe and more than most do in Asia.
Still, when our total annual per capita consumption amounts to something north of 22 gallons of milk, more than 35 pounds of cheese, and 2.1 pounds of butter; there is just one thing to say. We should all toast at least one glass a year to Louis Pasteur, the French chemist and microbiologist, who invented Pasteurization to make both milk–and yes wine–safe for us to drink.
For while only a tiny fraction of the milk we consume is “raw” or unpasteurized; it is raw milk that continues to deliver a menu of pathogens including Campylobacter that are good only for making people sick, and possibility dead.
More evidence of raw milk’s danger comes in the current issue of the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that looks all the 2006 data the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has collected on food-borne disease outbreaks (FBDOs) from all states and territories through the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System (FBDSS).
This report, according to CDC, summarizes epidemiologic data on FBDOs reported during 2006 (the most recent year for which data have been analyzed). A total of 1,270 FBDOs were reported, resulting in 27,634 cases and 11 deaths.
Dairy commodities, which we assume are milk, cheese and butter, accounted for only three percent of the single source outbreaks in 2006. That translates into 16 outbreaks responsible for 193 food-borne illness cases.
Of those dairy outbreak cases, 71 percent were attributed to unpasteurized raw milk. Raw milk was responsible for ten outbreaks that made 137 sick. “A wide range of bacterial pathogens was associated with the raw milk outbreaks, including Campylobacter (six outbreaks), STEC (E. coli) 0157:H7 (two outbreaks), Salmonella (one outbreak), and Listeria (one outbreak), resulting in 11 hospitalizations and one death,” CDC reports.
Raw milk drinkers, say it ain’t so!