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Got raw milk? No thanks!  At least that is what the CDC, FDA, many veterinarians, animal health officials, and dairy trade associations say.

Why?  According to the CDC raw milk was, and still is, a common source of bacteria.  “Before the invention and acceptance of pasteurization, raw milk was a common source of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, diphtheria, severe streptococcal infections, typhoid fever, and other foodborne illnesses.”

“The rate of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk (often called raw milk) and products made from it was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Public health officials found that raw milk was the source of dairy products in 60% of the 73 dairy-related outbreaks identified in a 13-year study.

Despite these findings, there are ardent supporters of raw milk consumption, who, along with some dairy farmers, are fighting to legalize the sale of raw milk, believing it to be healthier than its pasteurized counterpart.  Between 21 -28 states currently permit at least some sales of raw milk, but interstate sales are expressly prohibited.

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Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, describing itself as a “non-profit organization” established in 2007 to protect “the rights of the nation’s family farms, artisan food producers, consumers and affiliate communities to engage in direct commerce free of harassment by federal, state and local government interference …[has] challenged FDA’s ban on raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce.”

Despite these supporters, scientific evidence seemingly supports the FDA’s position.  According to the CDC’s 13-year review, the rate of outbreaks caused by raw milk and products made from it was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk. The study also revealed that the states where the sale of raw milk was legal had more than twice the rate of outbreaks as states where it was illegal.

Anyone interested in drinking raw milk might consider getting a dairy cow or goat of their own.  That way, the laws governing the sale of raw milk will not apply.  Just be aware that mulitple daily milkings can be time consuming, and other federal, state and local regulations apply to livestock.