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Is It Safe to Drink Raw Milk?

We’re starting to see ripples of the trendy raw food diets take over the food and health space on social media. The most popular version of this diet is eating raw and unprocessed foods. And, yes, that includes unpasteurized milk.

While online “experts” claim that drinking raw milk has more benefits than pasteurized milk, we’re here to immediately debunk that. You will receive the same nutrients from pasteurized milk as you would from raw, unpasteurized milk. This includes milk’s proven health benefits like supporting bone health, heart health, brain health and more.

Our main concern is if consuming raw milk is safe at all, since it’s not been pasteurized to kill off any harmful bacteria. Here’s what to know if you’re interested in this trend and what you need to keep in mind before making the swap.

What’s the Difference Between Organic and Regular Milk?

Is It Safe to Drink Raw Milk?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raw milk can carry harmful bacteria due to the lack of pasteurization. These can include bacteria responsible for foodborne illnesses, like E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and more. Common symptoms of these infections include diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea and vomiting. Adults over age 65, children younger than 5, immunocompromised individuals and pregnant people may experience more serious symptoms.

Named as one of the “riskiest” foods by the CDC, raw milk may also put you at risk for more severe diseases, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can result in paralysis and hemolytic uremic syndrome, a rare yet life-threatening disease that can cause kidney failure or stroke.

And while it may seem like raw milk is safe when you know where it comes from, there’s just as much risk when sourcing milk from your local farm.

Is It Safe to Eat Raw Eggs?

“Raw milk can get contaminated in many ways,” the CDC writes. “Healthy animals can carry germs that are harmful to people. Germs in these animals’ poop can get into raw milk and contaminate it. Good safety practices can reduce the chance of germs getting in raw milk, but not completely eliminate it.”

The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other reputable organizations strongly advise humans to only consume pasteurized milk. Milk that has been bottled, sealed and refrigerated after pasteurization is very unlikely to contain harmful germs that can cause sickness.

The Bottom Line

Raw milk isn’t safe to drink, as it has not been through the pasteurization process to kill off harmful bacteria.

The CDC and FDA urge consumers to only drink pasteurized milk to reduce their risk of dangerous foodborne diseases. If you or a family member is experiencing symptoms of illness after consuming raw milk, contact your health care provider immediately.

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