Epicurious, a website about food consumption, stated in the entry for milk in its "Food Dictionary" (accessed Aug. 15, 2011):
"Raw milk, usually only commercially available in health-food stores, has not been pasteurized. Advocates say it's better nutritionally because vitamins and natural enzymes have not been destroyed by heat. The dairies that are certified to sell raw milk have rigid hygiene standards and their herds are inspected regularly. But the milk is still not pasteurized and therefore carries some potential risk of disease."
[Editor's Note: As of Jan. 2013, the sale of raw milk in stores is legal in 12 states. 17 states only permit raw milk sales on farms; 4 states only allow raw milk acquisition through "cow-share" agreements; and in 17 other states all sales of raw milk are prohibited.
Linda Melos, ND, primary care naturopathic physician, stated the following in her article "The Health Benefits of Raw Milk," available at her website (accessed Aug. 15, 2011):
"[P]asteurized milk actually interferes with calcium metabolism... Before heating [pasteurization], milk is a living food rich in colloidal minerals and enzymes necessary for the absorption and utilization of the sugars, fats, proteins and minerals in milk. Raw cream and butter has 'X Factor' that prevents joint stiffness.
Eight to ten thousand years ago, raw and fermented milk products began to replace animal bones as a major source of minerals in many cultures. These raw dairy products were known to increase strength, fertility and general health. Present-day cultures whose diets are high in cultured raw dairy products tend to be extremely healthy, long-lived people. (The culturing of raw milk breaks down the lactose, and predigests the milk proteins.) Raw milk that is still warm from the animal has traditionally been used through the centuries for various wasting diseases...
Pasteurizing milk kills off all bacteria, including the health-giving lactobacilli. This allows milk to putrefy with bad bacteria over time, rather than sour or ferment from good lactobacilli. Pasteurization also destroys vitamins, especially C, B6 and B12, and denatures fragile milk proteins. It destroys 20% of the iodine, and makes insoluble the major part of the calcium content."
The Weston A. Price Foundation's Campaign for Real Milk explains in the article "What Is Real Milk?," available on its website (accessed Aug. 15, 2011):
"Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer...
Pasteurization was instituted in the 1920s to combat TB [tuberculosis], infant diarrhea, undulant fever and other diseases caused by poor animal nutrition and dirty production methods. But times have changed and modern stainless steel tanks, milking machines, refrigerated trucks and inspection methods make pasteurization absolutely unnecessary for public protection."
Theodore Beals, MD, former pathologist at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Ann Arbor, MI, in the case of Organic Pastures v. State of California, provided the following testimony on Apr. 25, 2008, in support of raw cow's milk and against CA legislation (AB 1735) which regulated coliform levels in raw milk:
"Beneficial bacteria provide benefits in a number of ways…[o]ne of the ways that they provide benefit is by producing specific substances which kill other [harmful] bacteria. Another way that they are beneficial to people is that they inhibit the growth of other [harmful] bacteria indirectly rather than just simply killing them. Additionally, they have been shown -- beneficial bacteria have been shown to block the entrance of [harmful] bacteria into the body, therefore preventing the illness…
Prebiotic is a substance which when introduced to beneficial bacteria stimulates their growth or stimulates their beneficial activity. A probiotic is defined technically as bacteria, beneficial bacteria, which when added to a product or as a supplement provides those beneficial bacteria to the person that's drinking the milk. My personal take on this is it's obvious from the definitions that fresh market - raw market milk is in fact a prebiotic. It does stimulate beneficial organisms. And although not technically meeting the definition of a probiotic because it's not added, these beneficial bacteria that are present are natively present in [raw] milk."
The Organic Consumers Association stated the following in its May 7, 2010 press release "Cow on Boston Common 5-10-2010 for Raw Milk Drink-In," available at their website:
"Over three million Americans now prefer organic raw milk and raw milk dairy products over pasteurized milk because of its superior nutrition and disease fighting qualities and because it comes from small, local producers who pasture their dairy cows, rather than keeping them confined all day and all year in dairy feedlots on huge, disease-ridden factory farms."
Joseph Mercola, DO, an osteopathic physician, stated in his Apr. 24, 2004 article "The Real Reasons Why Raw Milk Is Becoming More Popular," published on his website:
"Raw milk is a highly health-promoting food... While it is certainly possible to become sick from drinking contaminated raw milk, it is also possible to become sick from almost any food source. But it seems that raw milk has been unfairly singled out as a risk, when only a very small risk exists...
Raw milk is an outstanding source of nutrients including beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus, vitamins and enzymes, and it is, in my estimation, the finest source of calcium available...
People who have been allergic to pasteurized milk for many years can typically tolerate and even thrive on raw milk. Raw milk is truly one of the most profoundly healthy foods you can consume, and you'll feel the difference once you start to drink it."
Raw Milk Facts, a website advocating raw milk consumption, wrote in an article titled "The Health Benefits of Raw Milk" (accessed Aug. 15, 2011):
"Clean raw milk from pastured cows is a complete and properly balanced food... About 80% of the proteins in milk are caseins - reasonably heat stable but easy to digest. The remaining 20% or so fall into the class of whey proteins, many of which have important physiological effects (bioactivity). Also easy to digest, but very heat sensitive, these include key enzymes (specialized proteins) and enzyme inhibitors, immunoglobulins (antibodies), metal-binding proteins, vitamin binding proteins and several growth factors... Studies have shown significant loss of these important disease fighters when milk is heated to normal processing temperatures...
Lactose, or milk sugar, is the primary carbohydrate in cow's milk. Made from one molecule each of the simple sugars glucose and galactose, it's known as a disaccharide. People with lactose intolerance for one reason or another (age, genetics, etc.), no longer make the enzyme lactase and so can't digest milk sugar. This leads to some unsavory symptoms, which, needless to say, the victims find rather unpleasant at best. Raw milk, with its lactose-digesting Lactobacilli bacteria intact, may allow people who traditionally have avoided milk to give it another try."
Adam Helfer, certified nutrition and lifestyle coach, stated the following in his Aug. 6, 2011 article "Rawesome Foods Raided: A Sad Day for America," available on the Communities page of the Washington Times website:
"Raw Grassfed milk and products (which have been produced and consumed safely for thousands of years) have been shown to help combat allergies, gastro intestinal disorders, build the immune system and have helped children with Autism and Asperger syndrome. These positive benefits are not found in pasteurized milk, which in fact can cause many of the symptoms listed. This makes raw milk a very popular and crucial part in a mothers' dietary planning for their children and family."
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated the following in a July 16, 2011 press release, "Foodborne Outbreak Associated with Raw Milk from Tucker Adkins Dairy of York SC," available at www.fda.gov:
"The FDA recommends that consumers only drink pasteurized milk. Raw milk is unpasteurized milk from hoofed mammals, such as cows, sheep, or goats. Raw milk may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria – including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella - that may cause illness and possibly death...
Symptoms of illness caused by various bacteria commonly found in raw milk may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache and body ache. Most healthy individuals recover quickly from illness caused by raw milk. However, some people may have more severe illness, and the harmful bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, infants, young children and people with weakened immune systems...
Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. Pasteurization, a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time, kills bacteria responsible for diseases, such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis...
Proponents of drinking raw milk often claim that raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk and that raw milk is inherently antimicrobial, thus making pasteurization unnecessary. There is no meaningful nutritional difference between pasteurized and raw milk, and raw milk does not contain compounds that will kill harmful bacteria."
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office stated the following in its Aug. 3, 2011 press release, "Three Arrested on Charges of Illegally Producing, Selling Unpasteurized Milk," available at their website:
"Pasteurization kills or slows the growth of pathogens and microbes and it must be accomplished according to state standards under sanitary conditions. The process involves the heating of milk to a high temperature for a specific time and then cooling it immediately. The manufacture and sale of unpasteurized [raw] milk products poses a risk of pathogenic contamination. Those pathogens include salmonella, listeria, e-coli, staphylococcus aureus and tuberculosis."
The Centers for Disease Control stated in their June 13, 2008 article "Escherichia Coli 0157:H7 Infections in Children Associated with Raw Milk and Raw Colostrum from Cows," published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, that:
"Those states that permit the sale and consumption of raw milk report more outbreaks of foodborne disease attributed to raw milk than those states that have stricter regulations. During 1973-1992, raw milk was implicated in 46 reported outbreaks. Nearly 90% of these outbreaks (40 out of 46) occurred in states that allow the sale of raw milk…
Because illnesses associated with raw milk continue to occur, additional efforts are needed to educate consumers and dairy farmers about illnesses associated with raw milk and raw colostrum. To reduce the risk for E. coli O157 and other infections, consumers should not drink raw milk or raw milk products."
[Editor's Note: In March, 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report titled "Nonpasteurized Dairy Products, Disease Outbreaks, and State Laws - United States, 1993-1996" (268KB), which concluded: "Public health officials at all levels should continue to develop innovative methods to educate consumers and caregivers about the dangers associated with nonpasteurized dairy products. State officials should consider further restricting or prohibiting the sale or distribution of nonpasteurized dairy products within their states. Federal and state regulators should continue to enforce existing regulations to prevent distribution of nonpasteurized dairy products to consumers. Consumption of nonpasteurized dairy products cannot be considered safe under any circumstances."]
John F. Sheehan, JD, Director of Plant and Dairy Food Safety at the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, stated the following in his Mar. 15, 2007 testimony before the Health and Government Operations Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates, available at www.fda.gov:
"Raw milk is inherently dangerous and may contain a whole host of pathogens...
Claims that raw milk has miraculous disease-curing properties are not supported by the scientific literature...
Permitting raw milk sales, or the operation of so-called 'cow-share' schemes to occur within any given jurisdiction, will not result in the maintenance or further strengthening of our food safety systems. On the contrary, permitting such sales and schemes will inevitably result in an increased incidence of foodborne illness...
Raw milk is inherently dangerous and should not be consumed. Raw milk continues to be a source of foodborne illness and even a cause of death within the United States. Despite the claims of raw milk advocates, raw milk is not a magical elixir possessing miraculous curative properties. Pasteurization destroys pathogens and most other vegetative microbes which might be expected and have been shown to be present in milk. Pasteurization does not appreciably alter the nutritive value of milk."
Ruth Kava, PhD, RD, stated in her Aug. 7, 2006 article "'Healthful' Raw Milk: A Dangerous Myth Is Back," published on the American Council on Science and Health website:
"It's ironic that a food process instituted back in the 1920s and 30s to prevent real, milk-borne disease, is now being demonized as a cause of nutrient depletion (which it is not). Indeed, some raw milk advocates blame pasteurized milk for everything from infant colic to osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer (have they been talking to the anti-aspartame lobby?). None of this is true...
While raw milk may taste somewhat sweeter than the pasteurized variety, this hardly makes up for the fact that it is considerably more likely to carry disease-causing microorganisms. Indeed, as we have noted in the past, there have been well-documented outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 infection in children, an infection that can result in permanent kidney damage, if not death.
We can only hope that the public health community exerts itself to counter the spread of the raw milk myth."
The Washington Dairy Products Commission explained in its article "What Is Milk?," published on its website (accessed Sep. 25, 2008):
"'Raw milk' is milk that has not been pasteurized. Although some people claim that 'raw' milk possesses positive nutritional and health-promoting attributes, these claims have not been scientifically substantiated. USDA, FDA, Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] and many other scientific authorities recommend against consumption of 'raw' milk. 'Raw' milk can contain a variety of microorganisms that can be harmful and even fatal to people - including bacteria campylobacter, Escherichia, listeria, salmonella, yersinia and brucella. Pasteurization, however, destroys any harmful microorganisms and renders milk safe for everyone to consume."
[Editor's Note: On Aug. 15, 2011 ProCon.org checked for updated information on raw milk from this source. The original article quoted above on Sep. 25, 2008 no longer appears on their website, nor does any information about raw milk that we could find.]