Debate over unpasteurized milk heats up

 
By Carrie Johnson • Published: August 25th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
Play
Play

The two sides are at war, locked in a fight filled with accusations, secrecy and political wheeling and dealing. On one side are raw milk advocates, who claim the substance is a vitamin- and enzyme-rich miracle cure for asthma, gastrointestinal distress and other illnesses. On the other, public health officials who fear unpasteurized milk is filled with potentially lethal germs. The battlefield has spilled onto the Internet as well as the country’s statehouses and courtrooms as the F-D-A attempts to crack down on sellers. So who’s winning, the foodies or the feds?

The sale of raw milk is legal in only ten states and is banned in another ten. In the rest, consumers can only purchase it at a farm via a cow share, which basically allows people to buy shares in a cow so they’re drinking their own milk. It’s also illegal to ship raw milk over state lines.

So why all the regulation? The F-D-A says it’s simply trying to keep people safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also view raw milk as dangerous. That’s because milk can be contaminated with pathogens such as salmonella or e-coli, which are transmitted through unclean udders or milking equipment. Heating the milk to one-hundred-and-sixty-one degrees for at least fifteen seconds kills all the potentially harmful germs. But raw milk enthusiasts say this heating, or pasteurization, also destroys health-giving vitamins, enzymes and minerals.

The debate isn’t going away any time soon. Both sides have launched Internet sites aimed at winning converts and influencing policymakers. They may not be crying over spilled milk, but they sure are fighting over whether or not it should be pasteurized.