Is Raw Milk Safe?

This is one of the most common questions that I receive from both clients and friends; "Is raw milk safe?" Especially now, when I talk about giving Kicker raw kefir, raw milk, raw butter, raw cheese,  etc. Our Oncologist made sure to tells us "No raw dairy, whatsoever!" So guess what I did? Stood up, loudly cleared my throat, put my super smart, sexy, reading glasses on, whipped out my power point presentation and told him whats up! Ok, just kidding, I have much more respect than that-and lets be honest, I am not that brave! 

In all honesty though, there are many times to listen to your doctor-most are very educated well versed in things that you and I couldn't even begin to understand.  There are times, however, to do your OWN research and educate yourself on what is best. I would argue that most of the time, when it comes to anything nutrition related, do not just jump at taking your doctors advice. Most of them have only received 1 week of nutrition in ALL OF medical school and residency! And now, most medical schools don't even require nutrition-it is an elective..GASP.  That said, they specialize in medicine, and that is where their expertise is. As a nutritionist, I specialize in….you guessed it,nutrition!

Lets talk about how raw milk got a bad wrap to begin with.  In the late 1800's, farmers began seeing a sudden influx in demand for product. As our population began drastically increasing, the demand for production and preservation of food also increased. Widespread urban growth caused by industrialization, dramatically impacted the once 'proper' preparation and cultivation of food. The way farmers were able to increase production of their product in order to meet demand, was of course to compromise the way it was produced-quantity vs quality. These farmers were buying more cattle, keeping them in closer quarters, and supplementing their feed with grain, to increase the cow's size and  milk supply. Suddenly people began getting ill and even dying from bacteria that was found to be coming from raw milk; tuberculosis, brucellosis, diphtheria, salmonella, listeria, etc. With the onset of industrialization, we began demanding more food and food that would last longer. The consequence was our health, and people began dying because of it. While many cultures up until then had thrived off of raw milk, seeing it as 'medicine,'  they were consuming a completely different form of raw milk than what began happening in the late 1800's.

Microbiologist Louis Pasteur, came up with a way to not only kill all of the bad bacteria in milk, but allow the milk to be shelf stable for a month or more, versus the week long expiration that raw milk had.  If you cook the hell out of the milk, you kill…well, everything. Not only was this supposed to save peoples lives, but it was a large profitable benefit to the dairy industry.  Thus, the pasteurization of diary was born.

You see, cows are meant to roam pasture and eat grass. They were not meant to be raised in covered barns, knee deep in their own feces. They were not meant to eat grains.  One of the reasons that conventionally raised cattle are given antibiotics, is because they get so sick from being fed corn and soy, that the only way to keep them alive, is to pump them full of antibiotics. So naturally, if you pack any animal into close quarters, feed them food they cannot digest, compromise on the care and cleanliness of the animal-you will end up with a sick animal. Therefore you get 'sick' food. So is raw milk safe? Not this kind-no way!

Not much longer after we began murdering, uh-hum, I mean 'pasrurizing' milk, more and more people began complaining of digestive symptoms; bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, nauseous. Well, we weren't dying, so no one seemed to care too much about the sudden onset of what we now call "lactose intolerance." I don't know about you, but I would totally choose diarrhea over death! But what if you could still enjoy milk without those less than glamours side effects and bonus…NOT die? Guess what-YOU CAN! Raw milk does NOT cause lactose intolerance! Even more importantly, you have a much higher chance of dying from consumption of pasteurized milk than raw. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) since 1972, there have been 422 illness and 70 deaths from pasteurized milk. There have only been 110 illness and 0 deaths from raw milk. Not to mention that the constant stress the murdered dairy is doing to your gut can eventually turn into a chronic disease, such as chrons or colitis.

Why does this happen? When you heat milk to anywhere between 160 degrees Fahrenheit (pasteurized)- 280 degrees Fahrenheit (pasteurized and homogenized). You destroy not only pathogens, bugs and bad bacteria that could be present, but you also destroy the good bacteria that is necessary to digest the milk.  According to studies found here, "pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Calves fed pasteurized milk do poorly and many die before maturity." 

You are probably thinking "At least if I drink any kind of cows milk, I can get a good source of calcium, building strong bones and good teeth. Oh and all those movie stars with the mustaches? They totally have strong bones and amazing teeth." WRONG! Pasteurized milk,  leaches calcium from the body, since this enzyme-less artificial, modern food cannot be easily metabolized. The processes of removal from the blood takes a lot of calcium stores from the teeth and bones. The definition of pasteurization is removal of all enzymes via heat. One of the enzymes in milk thus denatured is phosphatase. Its purpose? Calcium absorption. Without phosphatase, calcium absorption doesn’t happen.  Nice try, marketing and advertising! 

What makes REAL raw milk not just healthy, but safe? According to the Raw Milk Institute, "Raw milk contains many components that kill pathogens and strengthen the immune system. These include lacto-peroxidase, lacto-ferrin, anti-microbial components of blood (leukocytes, B-macrophages, neutrophils, T-lymphocytes, immunoglobulins and antibodies), special carbohydrates (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides), special fats (medium chain fatty acids, phospholipids and spingolipids), complement enzymes, lysozyme, hormones, growth factors, mucins, fibronectin, glycomacropeptide, beneficial bacteria, bifidus factor and B12-binding protein.  These components are largely inactivated by the heat of pasteurization and ultra-pasteurization.  This five-fold protective system destroys pathogens in the milk, stimulates the immune system, builds healthy gut wall, prevents absorption of pathogens and toxins in the gut and ensures assimilation of all the nutrients.  So powerful is the anti-microbial system in raw milk that when large quantities of pathogens are added to raw milk, their numbers diminish over time and eventually disappear."  For a discussion of scientific papers showing the pathogen-killing properties of raw milk, see Does Raw Milk Kill Pathogens? by Dr. Ted Beals."

What I find very disturbing about the conventional dairy industry is that inspection of dairy herds for disease is not required for pasteurized milk. In fact, there is absolutely no accountability for conventional dairy farmers and no reason for them to 'pursue' excellence. The milk from 100 different farmers is all sent to the same processing plant and poured into one, very large, steel container to be murdered at 160-280F. So why would Farmer John care to do anything out of the ordinary to make a better product, when his product is going to be thrown into the mix with Farmer Joe, Farmer Tom and Farmer Bill? Whats most disturbing is that during the processing of pasteurized dairy, workers have to remove the slime and pus from the milk (which is produced only by sick, unhealthy cows) by a process called centrifugal clarification. So just think, while you are sipping on that glass of good ol' doctor recommended, pasteurized milk-you may as well be sipping on some slime and pus, mmmmmm. 

A good, raw milk dairy farmer that is following clean practices, has to undergo an unreal and almost unrealistic amount of inspections and government testing.Organic Pastures Dairy is the largest raw milk dairy farm in the USA and spends the majority of its funding on testing. In fact they test each and every batch for pathogens and all bacteria. These test are all available for the consumer to review upon request. California standards for human consumption raw milk require fewer than 10 coliforms, fewer than 15,000 live bacteria per ml and absolutely no pathogens. Organic Pastures Dairy averages about 1500 beneficial living bacterial per ml and NO test has ever detected a human pathogen in their raw milk samples. Ever. But, conventional dairy's (pasteurized milk) permits 100,000 bacteria per ml for milk going to be pasteurized  which can include pathogens (this is arguably the reason why milk is pasteurized). 

I would NEVER allow my child, especially a child that is battling a life threatening illness, to consume conventional, pasteurized dairy, but I make sure that Kicker gets his daily dose of raw dairy to help build his immune system, bones, digestion, brain, and overall health. Oh and just another benefit of raw milk…..Bacteria found in the bio diversity in raw milk triggers Killer T- Cell differentiation, which destroys cancer cells. So is raw milk safe? Absolutely!  Especially for those fighting disease! Remember that it is important to ensure that your raw milk farmer follows good, safe farming practices. Contact your local Weston A. Price chapter leader for a resource local to you for raw milk! Raw milk does a body good!




At the beautiful Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno, CA!


Season Johnson

Season Johnson, B.A., NTP uses her knowledge in preventive healthcare and nutrition science to educate families on how to achieve real health in a real-life way. Through a nutrient dense diet, detox remedies and healthy living, she is helping her 3 year old son, beat cancer and thrive during conventional treatment.