C.D.C.: Raw milk behind dairy disease outbreaks

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — The rate of outbreaks caused by raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk, according it the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A study was recently published in the C.D.C. journal Emerging Infectious Disease, and it reviewed dairy product outbreaks from 1993 to 2006 in all 50 states. The study compared the amount of milk produced in the United States during the time (about 2.7 trillion lbs) to the amount the C.D.C. estimated was consumed raw (27 billion lbs) to determine the unpasteurized products had a rate 150 times greater for outbreaks. Specifically, the study looked at 121 dairy-related disease outbreaks, 60% of which were linked to raw milk products. The study also found raw milk product outbreaks led to more serious illness and affected those under 20 years old more often. In fact, 60% of patients in raw milk outbreaks were younger than 20 years old compared with 23% in outbreaks from pasteurized products.

“While some people think raw milk has more health benefits than pasteurized milk, this study shows that raw milk has great risks, especially for children, who experience more severe illness if they get stick,” said Barbara Mahon, study co-author. “Parents who have lived through the experience of watching their child fight for their life after drinking raw milk now say it’s just not worth the risk.”

The study also concluded the sale of raw milk products is likely to reduce the number of outbreaks, and states that allow for the sale of raw milk likely will continue to see outbreaks.

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