SDMB, can we just give up the illusion that drinking unpasteurized milk is somehow as safe as drinking pasteurized milk? Because, y’know, it’s not. It varies from being as safe as licking a barn floor to drinking pasteurized milk. And that’s just too much room for me.
Here are some things that can be in your unpasteurized milk:
[li]cryptosporidium – causes severe diarrhea; can KILL children and people with comprised immune systemssalmonella – again with the severe diarrhea and DEATHe. coli – bloody diarrhea and DEATHcampylobacter jejuni – watery, bloody diarrhea and DEATH[/ul][/li]
Anybody detecting a trend here? Well, don’t get too confident about that trend, because you can also get RABIES from raw milk if the cow that produced it had it. Also, all of the things in the bulleted list can be carried by cattle without presenting symptoms, so it’s possible for them to spread it without the humans around them being aware of it. It only takes one cow in the herd with e. coli to contaminate the entire bulk tank, thanks to the miracle of manure and herds.
Here’s something else to think about: Bacteria can multiply exponentially every 20 minutes at room temperature. This means if you leave your pitcher of raw milk on the counter while you’re at work, and it doesn’t have levels of bacteria high enough to make you sick when you take it out of the fridge, it will by the time you get home. In fact, in ten hours at room temperature, you can go from one cell to more than a billion. Fun, fun.
Here are some diseases that pasteurization can prevent:
[ul][li]tuberculosis – Drink raw milk if you want to cough up blood and waste away.scarlet fever – For those who want heart damage.polio – You know you’ve always wanted to be a gimp.typhoid fever – It’s like the 19th century never ended. Oh, wait. Pasteurization helped eliminate the spread of these diseases. Thanks, Louis Pasteur! You were really on to something there.[/ul][/li]
More from the FDA, who tends to take this sort of thing seriously.
The risks are increased for children, the elderly, people with diseases that compromise the immune system, and pregnant women. So, you know, pretty much anyone who isn’t male, between the ages of 16 and 60, and in good health. Obviously not a large part of the population [/sarcasm], but a large enough one for people to say, “Well, I’ve always drunk milk straight from the teat, and I’m perfectly fine! We used to just park the cow over the cereal bowl in the morning and let fly.”
The plural of anecdote is not anecdata, you silly fuckers. Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened to other people or that it can’t happen to you.
Knowing the name of the cow it came from (oh my god, there are not enough rolleyes in the world) in no way guarantees the safety of the milk. The cleaning procedures for milking a cow don’t sterilize the teats OR the milk coming out of the cow. Those procedures aren’t fail safes; they’re precautions. And precautions don’t remove risk – they reduce it.
Here are some more reasons to not drink raw milk: The nutritional values (fat, carbs, vitamins and minerals) can’t be guaranteed like they can for pasteurized milk, because the fat levels, among others, in pasteurized milk are balanced at the milk plant. That why 2-percent milk really has only 2-percent milk fat in it. It doesn’t come out of the cow like that. You also can’t get Vitamin D-enriched raw milk, because that’s another thing that happens at a milk plant. (Vitamin D is what aids in calcium absorption in humans.) Also, the “health benefits” from drinking raw milk are so far unverified. It doesn’t reduce the chances of developing asthma or reduce the risk of arthritis. It does, however, increase the chances of having food poisoning.
Here’s a big one for me: It currently can’t be labeled Grade A, because the safety of it cannot be determined definitely. In order for fluid milk to be sold as drinkable milk, it has to be labeled Grade A, meaning that the farm it came from has passed inspections and complies with state and federal regulations, along with the hauling company and the processing plant. There’s no program to do that for raw milk, so the standards for it vary widely across the country, and in many states, it’s illegal to sell it.
The argument for drinking raw milk basically boils down to raw milk tasting better than pasteurized. That’s pretty tenuous reasoning for something with a lot of risk factors that many people drink on a daily basis.
It only takes one fuck-up to spread e. coli or campylobacter or brucellosis. But you know what? Pasteurization kills those bacteria! Kills 'em dead, dead, dead. Which is why it’s a good thing, and why people who drink raw milk are idiots.