A word about raw milk, if you will

Oh, yeah. Let’s just ignore all the people who have gotten sick from raw milk because e. coli is all around us. No reason to take precautions because e. coli is all around us. Or ignore the fact that consumers of raw milk don’t cook the milk the way you do meat, because then it isn’t raw milk anymore. It doesn’t matter if there are trace amounts of e. coli or other bacteria, it’s when it rises to levels that are dangerous that it becomes a problem. And those levels can be pretty damned small for some people. Reducing the risk just takes pasteurization.

You can’t compare meat and milk, because they’re used in different ways. (And, yes, LHoD, I do think it’s stupid of people not to heat their meat to an internal temperature 160 degrees F. Food poisoning can do a whole lot more damage than a few days of the runs. Basic food safety isn’t rocket science.)

Also, using the reasoning that e. coli is all around us, there’s no reason to use a teat dip or filter milk or sanitize pipelines, because e. coli is all around us. And when you don’t do those things, then bacteria counts go up into dangerous levels.

And before you haul out your wife’s expertise in cheese, I’ll point out that many cheeses are made using scalded or pasteurized milk and ones using raw milk are required to be aged for 60 days in the United States before being sold, as a way to stem bacteria growth.

I don’t believe that I ever said contracting rabies from raw milk was a sure thing, but you’re definitely more likely to contract it from raw milk than pasteurized milk, since pasteurization kills the rabies virus. Huh, what do you know? Something else that can be prevented through the wonder of heating your milk to 60 degrees F for half an hour.

Not really, since anyone can become immunocompromised at any time. You have the flu? Hey, buddy, your immune system isn’t at its best. Develop diabetes? Cancer? A kidney infection? You’re more susceptible to things like cryptosporidium and e. coli, and infections in general.

The risk of raw milk is also increased by the fact that if you drink from the same contaminated container every day, you’re re-infecting yourself every time you take a drink.

Yeah, they are if their hamburgers come from a place that is directly in contact with fecal matter whenever it lays down. Heating meat to an internal temp of 160 degrees F is basic food safety, and people who don’t do it are playing Russian roulette with their food.

If either of those risks could be reduced as something as simple as pasteurization, then, yeah, that would be stupid. If someone has the opportunity to buy a car that reduces the likelihood of accidents, and they opt for the one that looks pretty, that’s a foolish decision. If someone walks through a neighborhood where people are regularly mugged carrying a gold brick, then that’s foolish too.

Here’s an analogy for you: Drinking raw milk is like having sex with a stranger without protection. You can’t know for certain what is in that person’s body just by looking at him or her, so you grab a condom or dental dam or whatever. Pasteurization is fluid milk’s dental dam.

Longevity is not the only goal of life. Many folks are willing to take a few risks in exchange for an improvement in the quality of their lives. If somebody decides that the risks behind raw milk are worth a perceived improvement in flavor, or worth any other trade-off at all, it’s ridiculous to call them an idiot for making that value judgment.

I fail to see how the potential for bloody diarrhea (which can be permanent if you catch the right strain of bacteria) enriches your life.

No, I didn’t. If someone is aware of the risks and zero health benefits of raw milk, and continue to drink it after becoming aware of them, then they’re idiots. It’s like traveling at highways speeds and not wearing your seatbelt. Everything’s fine until it’s not.

Let me honestly say that you seem to know me almost as well as I know me. You also seem to know a lot about cheese regulations. I am not being sarcastic either. That is what I was about to post.

Europeans produce and eat raw milk cheeses every day with few ill effects and the FDA is very strict against them. Now I wouldn’t want to be a European (who would except someone brought up with that regime?) but I think the FDA is a little strict on the issue.

Life is a game of odds. Everyone loses in a way and dies at the end. Almost everything has some risk even if it is just driving to a doctor’s appointment. Raw milk is not high on the list of things to get worried about especially since an informed consumer can be educated about where it is coming from.

Whose saying that ? I would say that drinking raw milk never hurt any of my six cousins living on the dairy farm who consumed that product every day of their lives till they left home.

Can be even healthier. mother’s milk is never pastuerized even after beiong pumped.

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.

Are people who eat raw washed vegetables idiots as well ? Do you support irradiation of vegetables ? Not a big deal right?

How do you eliminate the health risks of oral sex given that precautions aren’t fail safe. Do you scrub hubby real hard ?

I’ve lived in Wisconsin my entire life, and all except four years of that has been on a dairy farm. We take both cheese and the milk industry very seriously around here.

I worry that with an increase in consumption of raw milk, the number of cases of illness from contaminated milk will rise and harm the dairy industry as a whole. Milk sales slumped in the early 1990s, and a contributing factor to that was the stigma against fats in the late '80s and early '90s. Should milk be publicized as a leading cause of foodborne illness, then there’s serious potential there to do bad damage to the milk industry. That would negatively impact no only my family’s earning ability, but also the economy of my state in a big bad way.

There are lot more people in the United States than in Europe, and the culture is a lot different. Here in the US, we don’t do anything by halves, and that extremism is frequently damaging.

Pasteurization is so damned simple, and removes so many of the problems presented by raw milk. People have advocated raw milk as healthier than pasteurized, but that’s not borne out by studies.

A bit of a hi-jack, but why in the hell can’t I buy ultra-pasteurized milk in the US? Well, I can if I want chocolate in it. But plain old milk? No, I have to get regular old pasteurized…guaranteed to spoil before I can consume it. Damn it, I want the ultra-pasteurized milk in an aseptic carton that I saw in the UK!

Assuming you buy milk in customary sizes, like quarts and half gallons, how long could that possibly be? Less than a week, surely? Properly refrigerated milk typically remains fresh for ten days past the sell by date, so if it is hanging around your fridge longer than that, you are just not drinking enough milk.

Wow. People arguing for the right to eat food that was long ago determined to be relatively unsafe, and easy, universal methods were found to make it much safer. At least, I think that’s what people are arguing for. Yeah, let’s go back to the good old days of one in three babies dying before age five, and people living to 35. To hell with all these newfangled inventions like pasteurization, hand-washing and vaccination.

This is one hell of a weird thread.

Well, the genral attitude of the linked thread seems to be, “I drink raw milk all the time and I’m fine!” The only problem with that it’s not all right for a whole hell of a lot of people. I don’t call about 40 percent of the population an insignificant figure.

That’s a nice anecdote, by the way. I’m glad things worked out for your cousins who had been exposed to the pathogens present on a farm for their entire lives while drinking raw milk, unlike, say, people who grew up in a city and have spent only brief amounts of time around livestock.

I don’t even know what the hell this means or how it responds to what I wrote.

Unless they’re milking by hand or using a system that milks each cow into a separate container, and then bottling directly from the cow, it’s probably put into a bulk holding system of some kind, even if it’s only a bucket. Nobody I know has used a milking system that uses separate canisters since the 1980s.

Hmm, I don’t know. Are those vegetables exposed to e. coli and campylobacter just lying there in the garden? If they’re fertilized with non-composted manure, then, fuck yes, scrub them. Otherwise it’s kind of stupid to eat unwashed vegetables.

One, I’m not married. Two, people who are married and living together have a lot more of the same flora and fauna in their bodies than someone who doesn’t live on a farm does with a cow. And, yeah, sometimes people spread disease through oral sex. You can’t pasteurize a person. But you can pasteurize milk.

You have no idea how much I agree with you.

I bet the people who are arguing against pasteurizing milk wash their hands after going to the bathroom. I mean, just because there’s a slim chance you might spread bacteria and viruses isn’t any reason not to wash your hands after wiping your ass.

First, it takes more than 60 degrees F to pasteurize milk–but you knew that ;). Second, you’re absolutely right. You’re also definitely more likely to contract rabies from pasteurized milk than you are from soy milk. IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND! It is a totally bogus risk! You are overreaching by including it, plain and simple, and it makes you look foolish. If you would only focus on the real risks–e.g., salmonella–then you’d look much less foolish. Let this little point go, or else show a single time since humans started drinking other animals’ milk that rabies has thereby been contracted.

I say it’s never happened, and for good reason: the rabies virus doesn’t survive long at all outside of a living host.

Yes, food safety isn’t rocket science. Gastronomy isn’t a science at all: it’s an art. Safety isn’t the main reason I eat food. It isn’t in the top five reasons that I eat food. And if someone finds that a negligible risk of a disease is worth the increase in flavor, and if you come along and call them stupid for that, I’ll come after you and suggest that you’re blind to the pleasures of life that make life worthwhile, or else that your imagination is so stunted that you cannot conceive of someone finding a pleasure where you happen to not find one.

I don’t drink raw milk, but I can respect those who do, as long as they don’t make false claims about its benefits. I drink pasteurized milk, but I don’t have much respect for those who make false claims about its benefits.


There are several hundred different serotypes of E. coli. The strain most commonly implicated in food poisoning is O157:H7. Your garden variety strains that live in the digestive tracts of most mammals are harmless and do not usually cause disease. So E. coli does not automatically equal bloody diarrhea/death.

Given that you’re the one that attacked the fact that rabies has been found in milk, and made it into a much larger issue than the four things that have definitely been communicated through raw milk, I think that makes you into a bit of a disingenuous twit. That rabies has never been communicated to a human through milk hardly detracts from the fact that people have died from other infections caused by it.

And now that you’re arguing that gastronomy is an art, and a visceral pleasure is much more important than something that’s a substantial risk to 40 percent of the population, well. I can hardly argue with art, can I?

Seriously. Pasteurization has been proven to reduce the risks of contaminated milk. If someone wants to ignore those risks, then they are free to, but I still think it’s stupid of them to do so when avoiding those risks is a very simple thing. To skip over food safety for something as fleeting as a glass of milk or a ribeye is not worth it to me.

Thank you for the backdoor insults, though. I’ll treasure them always.

Also, milk is pasteurized at about 160 degrees F. :smack: I got excited.

Look, all you have to do is back away from that point. I’m not being disingenuous, I’ve said that from the beginning. It’s as if I said, “Smoking is dangerous! It causes lung cancer, and emphysema, and spontaneous combustion!” The fact that the first two points are legitimate doesn’t make the last point any less absurd. Indeed, repudiating the absurd and unsupportable point makes the overall warning more sensible.

I dunno. Can you? Do you deny that food is an art form, and that many people put its pleasures among their favorite pleasures?

That’s fine that it’s not worth it TO YOU. It betrays a failure of understanding of the human condition to insist that it’s stupidity that motivates those who DO find it worthwhile.

Any time! I know you started the thread with the utmost in politeness and respect for others, after all.


I’ve also not picked on other things in your OP that deserve picking on, such as the hysterical warning about the dangers of leaving a pitcher of milk on the counter for eight hours (always a good plan), or the suggestion that dopers who drink raw milk risk polio (given that the last incident of wild polio transmission in the US was almost 30 years ago, I think this danger is just a wee bit overhyped). It’s more as if I said, “Smoking causes cancer and emphysema, and spontaneous combustion, and Satanism, and coke-snorting, and if you leave burning cigarettes in your bed, you could burn down your house!”

You way overreached. There are legitimate concerns about raw milk to be sure, but polio? Hahahaha!


Agree completely.

What “regime” do you mean? Care to elucidate?

Except for all those cases where e. coli in water systems has been traced by to cattle or e. coli outbreaks have been traced back to raw milk. Like here. Or here. Or here. The last link is especially concerning, as 13 percent of the people consuming the raw milk had diarrhea. Nearly 40 percent of the people who drank more than 3 cups of milk in a day got sick.

E. coli doesn’t always equal bloody diarrhea, but sometimes it does. Why shouldn’t people be spared that through, I dunno, pasteurization?

Fine, I’ll drop it.

I’m a diabetic. If I used “But it tastes so good!” as an excuse to frequently consume candy and sweets, wouldn’t you call that stupid? The risk for exposure to e. coli or campylobacter grows every time you consume raw milk, just like the damage done by sweets to a diabetic person grows with every sweet consumed.

I don’t deny that food is a pleasure for many people, but the pleasure has to be tempered with knowledge that there are risks inherent in the consumption of raw milk. To say, “But it hasn’t happened yet!” ignores the many people that it has happened to. Ignoring the risks creates a false sense of security, and when that bubble pops, people do things like sue farmers who may or may not be at fault.

You’re such a sweet man for ignoring so many valid points. You get extra special nitpicking brownie points for that.

Apparently it’s enough of a concern for the FDA to list it consistently on their materials about the dangers of raw milk. I wonder why that is? Maybe because cattle are imported from Mexico, and there were reported cases of polio there as recently as 1990? Or because they want people to be aware of the risks posed by raw milk, instead of floating along in a coccoon of ignorance?

It’s not safe. But if you know the cow, you also know that milk has not been mixed in with hundreds of other cows milk, thus increasing the chances by a hundredfold.

Thus, this is why most small family farmers and their families don’t have such a constant issue with milk borne diseases.

Not safe- safer. Safe enough for me anyway, given my extremely strong immune system, etc. Nor was it something I did or would do often, just once every few years when I go visit the family farm. YMMV of course.

Buying bulk raw milk from a dairy is too dangerous for me, however. Sure, the risk is low, but a low risk taken every day for years will catch up with you. I have done this for maybe 10 weeks in my whole life.

And, although I admit there’s a tad of danger, I have also “jumped from a perfectly good airplane” and gone into Great White Shark infested waters off the Fallarons. Not to mention eating a taco from a sidewalk vendor in Ensenada. Danger is relative, and informed adults can make choices for themselves that are not 100% safe.

That being said, I don’t like seeing raw milk being sold. My small-l libertarian mind is wary of completely banning it, but I don’t see how we can stop the informed adults who know and accept the rick they are taking from giving some of that milk to their kids. Kids are at a special risk for these things, too.

So, if you’re on the farm and decide to try some “straight from the cow” to see what it’s like- sure. oTOH, feeding it every day to your kids is not a good idea.