Government Data Proves Raw Milk Safe

Thanks to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease control, we finally have the numbers we need to determine the statistical safety of drinking raw milk. Turns out, raw milk really is safer than just about any other food out there — including spinach, peanut butter, and eggs. The risk of contracting an illness from contaminated raw milk is ridiculously small, particularly when you consider the amount of resources the federal government is pouring into undercover investigations of raw milk farmers, raids of buying clubs and co-ops, and creating an anti raw milk campaign.

For years, we’ve known exactly how many people in the U.S. get sick from drinking raw milk (an average of 42 per year). What’s been missing is the baseline — the number of raw milk drinkers in the U.S. In 2007, the CDC conducted a survey to determine the number of raw milk drinkers. And would you believe it? It took them until just a few months ago to make the data public! Running the numbers, it’s not hard to see why…

From a recent press release by the Weston A. Price Foundation:

“At last we have access to the numbers we need to determine the risk of consuming raw milk on a per-person basis,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation that provides information on the health benefits of raw, whole milk from pastured cows.

The key figure that permits a calculation of raw milk illnesses on a per-person basis comes from a 2007 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) FoodNet survey, which found that 3.04 percent of the population consumes raw milk, or about 9.4 million people, based on the 2010 census. This number may in fact be larger in 2011 as raw milk is growing in popularity. For example, sales of raw milk increased 25 percent in California in 2010, while sales of pasteurized milk declined 3 percent.

In addition, Dr. Beals has compiled published reports of illness attributed to raw milk from 1999 to 2010. During the eleven-year period, illnesses attributed to raw milk averaged 42 per year.

“Using government figures for foodborne illness for the entire population, Dr. Beals has shown that you are about thirty-five thousand times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk,” says Fallon Morell. “And with good management practices in small grass-based dairies offering fresh unprocessed whole milk for direct human consumption, we may be able to reduce the risk even further.”

“It is irresponsible for senior national government officials to oppose raw milk, claiming that it is inherently hazardous,” says Dr. Beals. “There is no justification for opposing the sale of raw milk or warning against its inclusion in the diets of children and adults.”

According to Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, “Where raw milk is concerned, the FDA has an agenda apart from protecting the public health. The agency wants to restrict and discourage the sale of unprocessed dairy products. This will have the effect of denying freedom of choice.”

“Every time there is a possible connection between illness and raw milk, government officials issue dire press releases and call for bans on raw milk sales,” says Fallon Morell. “However, these numbers fail to justify the government opposition and prove what we’ve known all along, that raw milk is a safe and healthy food.”

So, there you have it! Raw milk is SAFE, and we know how to make it even SAFER. Put cows out to pasture. Let them eat rapidly growing green grasses. Keep milking facilities well-cleaned and sanitized. Use modern refrigeration and stainless steel holding tanks. Keep milk cold while transporting it. If you choose to drink raw milk, only drink this “good stuff.” Don’t drink raw milk that’s been intended for pasteurization (this usually comes from confinement dairies, and isn’t particularly healthful or clean.) It’s so simple, really!

(photo by suzieblackmon)


    • Ben says

      Well it shows that you were lucky, I grew up drinking raw milk and ended up with scarlet fever from drinking raw milk..

      • Melissa says

        Scarlet Fever is caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria (the same bacteria that causes Strep Throat), which CAN be transmitted through foods like raw milk, eggs, ice cream, chicken, etc. but it is more likely to be transmitted through inhalation or touch (close contact). In order for the food to be contaminated, someone who is infected must come in contact with the food. So it is possible for a person to become infected with Scarlet Fever from consuming Raw Milk products, but it is more likely that an individual would become infected at school, their workplace, etc. from an infected individual.

      • Karen says

        I had scarlet fever twice as a child…yes, and I lived. Fact is, I lived in New York City and had never drunk raw milk. I think you were misinformed

    • ramani rangan says

      Most of all, If the product involves an animal, i.e. a cow for raw milk. When it is time for the cow to die that it feel no fear and feel no pain.

  1. April Miles Thornton via Facebook says

    I saw this and found it quite compelling. But for some reason, people are still convinced there must be something terribly dangerous about drinking fresh milk. I happen to think there’s something terribly dangerous about consuming the majority of foods sold at my local grocery store. :)

  2. says

    April, I was just discussing the fact that we have in this country a thing called a “health food store.” It’s a shame that a person can’t walk into just any grocery store and come out with healthy food.
    It’s amazing how much retail space is dedicated to imitation food.

  3. April Miles Thornton via Facebook says

    Yes, although even our health food stores often sell a lot of junk, too, unfortunately. But at least they provide many healthy foods that can’t be found at the regular grocery store. :)

  4. says

    This is so timely! Listen up world! The government just disproved themselves. Now, if only we could get them to pay attention to common sense and actual health of the people instead of big business dollars… “thirty-five thousand times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk”

  5. says

    It’s baffling to me that so much energy is put into keeping people from accessing raw milk when other riskier foods are given the green light. Imagine the good that energy could do if it were put in the right direction. In the mean time, every time I pick up my milk I feel like I’m negotiating an undercover drug deal.

    • KristenM says

      Are you speaking about the CDC survey data about the number of raw milk drinkers or the info on the raw milk illnesses? If the analysis of the rate of illnesses, etc., it will be published in the upcoming issue of Wise Traditions, and will probably be compiled online shortly after that.

  6. Melissa Jane Arana Carey via Facebook says

    Does anyone know where we can get our hands on the gvt reports. Are they all from CDC? Thank you!!!

  7. Colleen says

    If they really want to do some research, they ought to follow 2 groups of kids/adults, one drinking raw milk and one drinking the toxic garbage Big Ag calls “milk”. Let’s evaluate each group’s health, how many times they go to the doctor/get sick, health of teeth, etc. THAT would be the true test of which “milk” is really safe!

  8. says

    I’m assuming you all know the risks of consuming raw milk during pregnancy. One of the saddest funerals of my life was a infant miscarried at 6 months with a Listeria infection directly transmitted through raw milk.

    • Tom M Culhane says

      Actually, raw milk is probably the safest thing a woman can consume during pregnancy. People, seek out raw milk drinkers and listen to their testimonials, no tooth decay, never been to a doctor, great health, so many diseases healed. You do not absorb the minerals with pasteurized, the real world evidence shows this. I highly doubt this listeria story is true, but even if it’s one of the 42, balance that against the millions with health benefits, lives saved…

  9. Chris and Christi says

    We have our own milking goats and love the freedom of being able to enjoy fresh raw,naturally homogenized milk from these animals. We can only hope that our government will see eye to eye on the truth of the safety in digesting raw milk from cows and goats.

  10. says

    It is really sad that they had to put so much effort into determining if it is safe or not – I mean 42 people get sick a year? That’s pathetic. Too bad they didn’t have a study that showed how many people get sick from the stuff they call milk in the supermarket.

  11. says

    So good to hear it verified! I never got sick drinking raw milk and spooning raw cream onto my carrots.

    However, I and my son got a weird rash of pimples after drinking raw goats milk from a friend. When I looked into it I reached the conclusion that her hygiene wasn’t excellent and that the goats may have been staph carriers, as our rash looked awfully staphyloccocal. This bears out the fact that raw dairies need to be scrupulous about hygiene – as we were in the old days before all those nasty antimicrobal sprays!

    x x x

  12. Http:// says

    Is the government ever right with their actions? Seriously?! I don’t drink raw milk as I don’t do dairy outside of butter and whey here and there. But, these stats are great news!

  13. says

    I am sorry for those who have had poor — or even tragic — experiences with raw milk. However, I find the anecdotal anti-raw-milk comments irrelevant. What we raw-milk proponents are NOT saying is that there is ZERO risk — there are 42 cases yearly of poisoning from contaminated raw milk — we’re saying that the risk is INFINITESIMAL compared to other food-borne illnesses. It’s sad that a few can have a terrible experience with something and the bad word spreads like wildfire. But what these numbers are saying is that, in spite of the few reports of illness from raw milk, the RISK is extremely low.

    • Tom M Culhane says

      Unfortunately the govt has been slandering raw milk for a long long time. The pharmaceutical cartel makes billions off a sickly, demineralized population. Raw milk would heal so many. I doubt the “tragic” stories here are genuine. Out in the real world I only hear good things about it. It IS accurate to say there’s no risk, because it reduces the risk of serious illness and miscarriage, ie drinking it is safer than not drinking it.

  14. Peggy G. says

    Unfortunately, the only illnesses that are counted tend to be those that cause digestive symptoms. There is no solid data on things like allergies and autoimmune problems caused by pasteurized milk, caused by the immune system’s reaction to the dead bacterial protein that is left in the milk from heating. I have celiac disease and thought that it was good enough to drink homemade kefir made from the best local, organic, grass-fed, but lightly pasteurized milk I could find. It gave me significant sinus congestion and digestive symptoms. After switching to raw milk? The kefir not only causes no sinus congestion, it clear my sinuses if they are congested from something else. And my tummy is calm and happy. My hubby says he will never go back to drinking pasteurized.

  15. Cassie Powell says

    The risk IS low..until you contract a deadly pathogen from raw milk…as my five year old daughter did and who is now on her 12th day in the hospital with e.coli/HUS. She is receiving dialysis bc her kidneys are shut down. Now its personal and being one of those 42 per year is catastrophic for our family and we are fearful of raw milk. We are in Knoxville, TN.

  16. Christie Blunted Viewz via Facebook says

    That’s just nasty. I wont be able to keep you in my list anymore. Good Luck w your cow obsession!

  17. Tika Wolff via Facebook says

    I can’t drink the processed stuff, it has to be organic or raw or else my stomache kills me

  18. Sara Turner via Facebook says

    I switched from the store bought milk to local, raw milk and my nasal congestion — which I deal with 95% of the time — disappeared. I’m sold!

  19. Mary Light via Facebook says

    I have used raw dairy over the years and always felt it was very superior to anything commercial, and healthy and safe.

  20. Rich Hurd via Facebook says

    When I can get it, yes. It’s far superior to the crap you get from the stupormarket.

  21. Mari Morgan via Facebook says

    Yup. Got a big mug of iced decaf chai latte with Brookford Farm milk right next to me.

  22. Crystal Moore via Facebook says

    When I had a connection that made the regular trip down to nearly Waco to pick up… unfortunately it’s not all that easy in Texas. ><

  23. Yase Benche via Facebook says

    raw cow milk is good for baby cows, raw goat milk is good for baby goats. No animal’s milk is good for humans, nature just didn’t plan it that way.

  24. says

    We have a right to buy raw milk and juice in stores. There are a lot more deadly things in the stores like Tylenol and alcohol. If the government keeps going we won’t be able to buy fresh produce or meat anymore because of the “risks.” It’s crazy. Why don’t they just label it as risky and let us make the decision.

  25. Marcia Bresson via Facebook says

    The laws against it make no sense to me. Yes, there might be certain people who should be careful. But there are people who are allergic to peanuts, and they aren’t illegal. There are people who should not eat raw foods because they are getting chemo, and those foods aren’t illegal. Why are all of us banned from getting something because a small group of people might not tolerate it well? Why can’t that small group be warned and the rest of us be free to eat/drink what we want?

  26. Laura Wheeler via Facebook says

    So the real question here is, how many people per year are getting sick from PASTEURIZED milk? And how do the percentages compare? I’d stake money on raw being safer, because of opportunistic contamination in processing facilities AFTER Pasteurization, in which case the milk has no natural defense left, and the nasties just run rampant.

  27. Rachel McElroy via Facebook says

    I never thought I’d say this, but YES. I’ll never go back to the pasteurized/homogenized stuff, even if it’s organic.

  28. Alex Koski via Facebook says

    If raw milk could be safety removed from a cow by hand and not by machine…I would totally do it.

  29. Christina Beisel via Facebook says

    It’s not really a victory if politicians won’t read it. This was documented in our fight for raw milk legislation in Montana last year but didn’t change the FDA’s stance that raw milk is dangerous.

  30. Christina Beisel via Facebook says

    It’s not really a victory if politicians won’t read it. This was documented in our fight for raw milk legislation in Montana last year but didn’t change the FDA’s stance that raw milk is dangerous.

  31. Simi Amiet via Facebook says

    really, not long ago they were charging people who carried it over state lines… how ridiculous…

  32. Yase Benche via Facebook says

    Why the hell would any adolescent person drink other animal’s baby food, no matter if it’s raw or pasteurized.

  33. Rick Dove via Facebook says

    Leo, the advent of filthy , chemical laden, factory farms hell bent on making huge profits at all costs , is the reason for pasteurizing, and homogenizing raw milk!!!

  34. Tricia Shaffer Martinez via Facebook says

    Er, so why do I get food poisoning EVERY time I have anything other than cheese that is made with raw milk (no matter the source)? I tried to use raw milk for about a year, and tried many different sources! Obviously there are some bacteria in it that can make us sick. We are so so lucky to live in a world that has pasteurization for foods like milk. I am so grateful.

  35. Brandis L Roush via Facebook says

    homogenization has absolutely nothing to do with health, for starters. It is done purely for aesthetics. And pasturization only became necessary when cows were brought into cities, where they didn’t have enough space and were conditions were highly unsanitary (this isn’t an issue anymore, but now CAFO’s are). Milk raised the right way, on pasture, and handled correctly is perfectly safe to drink raw.

  36. Ellie A. Akers via Facebook says

    This came out YEARS ago. This is an old article not sure why it is being treated like a new one.

  37. A. NORDYKE says

    So much rhetoric here… seems like I’ve heard it all somewhere before. Unless you’ve experienced the grave illness of your own small child and watched them fight to live… because YOU spent $7.50 a gallon (for the raw milk you were led to believe – by the same language repeated here – was perfectly safe for your family) and proudly filled their little sippy cup with that creamy milk… you really cannot speak with any authority. You can spout numbers, sure. But let it be your toddler or your first grader … (Am I making some of you a little uneasy and unsure if you should put that milk on the table tomorrow morning? I hope so.) You’d never let it cross your doorstep again, and you know it. Tom Colgate – you accused me of fabricating my story because I used a phrase you’d heard spoken before. (I said I was forever changed.) So now it’s my turn to point out a term you raw milk folks like to use. You like to say that we are “slandering” raw milk. Well, to quote my favorite line from the Princess Bride (ha!) … “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Google says the definition of slander, as a verb, is to “make false and damaging statements about (someone)”… So you see, one cannot slander an inanimate object. Regardless, I’m sure you must have been paid by the raw milk movement to say that because my local raw milk advocates said the same thing.
    42 is TOO many, people!!! We’re not talking your run-of-the-mill food poisoning here. We’re talking life-threatening illness complete with organ failure. Go read my post on Food Safety News if you’d like to know how contaminated raw milk affected my family (unless, like Tom, you really believe government agents snuck in and sabotaged our milk jars… then I guess our story would be irrelevant to you).

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