“Is Raw Milk Safe?”
This is one of the most common question I receive from clients and friends, especially when I would talk about giving Kicker raw kefir, raw milk, raw butter and raw cheese during his cancer treatment. Our Oncologist even made sure to tell us, “No raw dairy, whatsoever!” But guess what I did?!
I stood up, loudly cleared my throat, put on my super smart, sexy, reading glasses, whipped out my PowerPoint presentation and told him what’s up!
Ok…just kidding! I actually have much more respect for him than that, and let’s be honest…I’m not that brave!
But, in all honestly, there are many times it is necessary to listen to the doctor. Most of them are very educated and well-versed in all things that most of us can’t even begin to understand. However, there are times when it is important to do your OWN research and educate yourself on what is best.
I would even argue that most of the time when it comes to anything nutrition related, it is best to not just jump in following your doctor’s advice. In fact, most doctors only receive 1 week of nutritional education in ALL of their medical school and residency! And now, most medical school do not even require nutrition as part of their required curriculum. It is an elective!
That being said, a doctor specializes in medicine, and that is their expertise! And as a nutritionist, I specialize in…nutrition!
Let’s talk about how raw milk got a bad wrap.
In the late 1800’s, farmers began seeing a sudden influx in product demand. The population was drastically increasing, and as a result, the demand for production and preservation of food also increased. Therefore, this widespread urban growth caused by industrialization dramatically impacted the once “proper” preparation and cultivation of food.
Farmers found that by compromising the way milk was produced, they could more easily increase production to meet the new demand. Quantity vs. quality became the focus. So, farmers bought more cattle. They kept them in closer quarters. And they supplemented their feed with grain to increase the cow’s size and milk supply.
However, people began getting ill and started dying from the bacteria found in this form of raw milk. Tuberculosis, brucellosis, diphtheria, salmonella, listeria were some of the specific consequences. And while many cultures up to this point had thrived off of raw milk, seeing it as “medicine,” those other cultures were consuming a completely different form of raw milk.
In addition, industrialization increased the demanded of making food that would last longer. Therefore, Microbiologist Louis Pasteur came up with a way to not only kill all of the bad bacteria in milk, but it would also allow the milk to be “shelf stable” for a month or more. This was in comparison to the week long expiration date that real raw milk had.
Basically, he cooked the hell out of the milk, which means…it killed everything!
So, not only was this new “form” of milk supposed to save people’s lives, but it was also to be a large profitable benefit to the dairy industry. And thus, pasteurization was born.
- Cows need to roam pastures and eat grass.
- They do not need to be raised in covered barns, knee deep in their own feces or to be fed grains, corn or soy.
And one of the reasons conventionally raised cattle are given antibiotics is because they easily get so sick from this new diet that they can’t digest and their cramped environment. So, naturally, if you compromise the care and cleanliness of the animal, you will end up with a sick animal and “sick” food.
So, is raw milk safe? Yes, absolutely! However, it needs to be good quality…keep reading so I can explain.
The Effect of Pasteurization
Not much longer after beginning to murder…uh-hum…I mean “pasteurize” milk, more and more people began complaining of digestive issues, such as:
However, because these issues didn’t cause people to die, no one seemed to care about the sudden onset of “lactose intolerance.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I would totally choose diarrhea over death! But, what if people could still enjoy milk without those less than glamorous side effects and NOT die? Well, guess what…YOU CAN because raw milk does NOT cause lactose intolerance. And an added bonus…a person has a much lower chance of dying from consuming raw milk than from pasteurized milk.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), since 1972, there have been 422 illnesses and 70 deaths from pasteurized milk. Whereas, there have only been 110 illnesses and 0 deaths from raw milk. And let’s not forget the constant stress that the murdered dairy puts on a person’s gut and can eventually turn into a chronic disease, such a Crohn’s or colitis.
Now, let’s talk how pasteurized milk harms the gut.
When milk is heated between 160 degrees F (pasteurized) to 280 degrees F (pasteurized and homogenized), not only are the pathogens, bugs and bad bacteria that could be present destroyed, but the good bacteria necessary to digest milk is also destroyed. This study even states,
“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 may be wondering, “what if I at least drink any kind of cow’s milk. Can’t I can get at least a good source of calcium to build strong bones and good teeth?”
Pasteurized milk leaches calcium from the body since this enzyme-less artificial, modern food can’t be easily metabolized. So basically, the processes of removal from the blood takes a lot of calcium stores from the teeth and bones.
And maybe I should have said this earlier, but the definition of pasteurization is the removal of enzymes via heat. Well, one of the enzymes in milk denatured is phosphatase, whose purpose is calcium absorption. So, without phosphates, calcium absorption doesn’t happen!
So, what makes REAL raw milk not just healthy, but safe?
This is a question that I often get asked when having this conversation. Well, the Raw Milk Institute states,
“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-pasterization. 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.”
And for a discussion of scientific papers showing the pathogen-killing properties of raw milk, I recommend, Does Raw Milk Kill Pathogens? by Dr. Ted Beals.
What’s really disturbing?
Personally, what I find very disturbing about the conventional dairy industry is that inspections of dairy herds for disease is not required for pasteurized milk. In fact, there is absolutely no accountability for conventional dairy farmers, and they have no reason 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 to 280 degrees F. 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?
And sadly, what’s even more disturbing is that during the processing of the pasteurized dairy, workers have to remove the slime and pus from the milk, which is produced only by sick, unhealthy cows. This is done with 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. Ok, I am sorry, I will stop.
A good, raw milk dairy farmer…
…follows clean practices and has undergone an unreal and almost unrealistic amount of inspections and government testing!
California standards for human consumption of raw milk requires fewer that 10 coliforms, fewer than 15,000 live bacteria per ml and absolute no pathogens. Well, Raw Farm USA, the largest raw milk dairy in the USA, averages about 1,500 beneficial living bacteria per ml and NO test has ever detected a human pathogen in their raw milk samples. Ever!
Plus, they spend the majority of their funding on testing and test each and every batch for pathogens and bacteria. These tests are available upon request for consumers to review.
In comparison, conventional dairy (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.
Basically…I would NEVER allow my child, especially one fighting a life threatening disease, to consume conventional, pasteurized dairy! But, as if all of the above isn’t enough, one more very important benefit of raw milk is that the bacteria found in the bio-diversity of raw milk triggers Killer T-Cell differentiation, which destroys cancer cells! Therefore, I personally make sure that Kicker gets his daily dose of raw dairy. I want to help build his immune system, bones, digestion, brain and overall health!
So…is raw milk safe?
YES!! RAW milk does a body good, especially for those fighting disease!
Just remember that it is important to ensure that your raw milk farmer follows good, safe farming practices. If you need help finding a local resource, contact your local Weston A. Price Chapter Leader.
,how do I find a Weston price chapter?
I grew up on raw milk from our own cows. Never had a test done and all seven of us survived! Next generation has kidneys stones, rotten teeth from birth almost, Lactose intolerance ( Even my mom and brothers now have lactose intolerance, and they had raw milk for years without a problem. We have seen depression and ADD rise also. Could this be part of it too? I always believed that milk was good for you and can not figure out why the teeth were so sick when they drank so much milk. Thanks
Love this! But I’m not sure where to buy and what brands are best for raw dairy products..
Hi Kate, As I mentioned above, we love Organic Pastures. So if you live in California, that would be a great option. If you don’t, you can always use this site as a way to find good local options: https://www.realmilk.com/real-milk-finder/