Or maybe that shouldn't be too surprising as most people associate things that are raw or natural as being safer and healthier for them.
Unfortunately, drinking raw milk can be dangerous, especially for young children.
Raw MilkJust as you would have thought, raw milk is basically "straight from the cow," and hasn't been processed or pasteurized. Although most experts consider pasteurization to be one of the most important health advances of the last century, some people think that it removes nutrients and kills beneficial bacteria. They also claim that raw milk can taste better than pasteurized milk.
Is raw milk healthier than pasteurized milk? There is no research to support that raw milk is healthier or, according to the FDA, that there is a "meaningful difference between the nutrient content of pasteurized and unpasteurized milk."
Dangers of Drinking Raw MilkAccording to the FDA, raw milk can be contaminated with bacteria, including:
- Brucella species
- Campylobacter jejuni
- Coxiella Burnetii
- Escherichia coli
- Enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Mycobacterium bovis
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis
- Salmonella species
- Yersinia enterocolitica
Another big danger of drinking raw milk that some people may overlook is that raw milk is very low in vitamin D. In addition to being pasteurized, processed milk that you routinely buy in a store is typically fortified with vitamin D, which is important to keep your bones strong.
Since young children are at big risk for getting sick from any bacteria that may be in raw milk and they need vitamin D, it is important that you not give your child raw, unpasteurized cow's milk. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that "children should not consume unpasteurized milk or products made from unpasteurized milk, such as cheese and butter, from species including cows, sheep, and goats."
Keep in mind that kids should also avoid unpasteurized fruit juices, including unpasteurized apple juice and apple cider.
Lastly, raw milk is about the same as whole milk in terms of fat content and calories. Experts recommend that children start drinking reduced fat milk, which has less fat and calories than whole milk, beginning at age two, you won't be able to do that if your kids are drinking raw milk.
American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book 2006. Prevention of Disease From Potentially Contaminated Food Products.
FDA Consumer magazine. September-October 2004 Issue. Got Milk? Make Sure It's Pasteurized.
FDA News Release. March 1, 2007. FDA and CDC Remind Consumers of the Dangers of Drinking Raw Milk.
FDA. Questions & Answers: Raw Milk. March 1, 2007.