AAP warns of foodborne illness from raw milk

AAP warns of foodborne illness from raw milk

Pregnant women, infants and children should stay away from raw, unpasteurized milk, the nation’s largest group of pediatricians said Monday.

In a policy statement published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in the journal Pediatrics, the group advises against the consumption of pasteurized milk and dairy products, going so far as to support a U.S. ban on the sale of raw milk overall.

Raw dairy is milk taken directly from cows, goats and sheep that doesn’t go through the pasteurization process to kill harmful bacteria. Pasteurizing heats milk to at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 15 seconds, then rapidly cooling it. This process is used for an estimated 99 to 97 percent of dairy products in the U.S., the AAP says.

Prior to the adoption of wide-spread pasteurization in the 1920s, people were routinely affected by bacteria harbored in the milk that caused serious illness, including tuberculosis, diphtheria, listeriosis and E. coli enteritis, which caused serious illness and even death. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 148 cases of illness linked to raw milk were reported from 1998 to 2011.

According to Dr. James Malow, infection control specialist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, infants, young children and pregnant women are particularly at risk for such food borne illnesses due to a suppressed immune system. In addition, anyone with a suppressed immune system, such as anyone undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer, should take the same precautions.

“There is absolutely no scientific data to show that raw milk has any health benefit,” Dr. Malow says, answering claims by some that unpasteurized milk might protect children from developing some chronic conditions, such as allergies and asthma. “But there is significant risk, particularly to those who are immune-suppressed. The bottom line is that it’s an unhealthy, unnecessary risk.”

Dr. Malow points out that the CDC has reported that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause food borne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illness caused by pasteurized milk products.

“And this applies not just to the milk itself, but to all milk products made with unpasteurized milk,” he says. “Cheese, yogurt and ice cream made with raw milk all pose an excessive health risk and should be avoided.”

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  1. Nice article, Tim. By the way, if you go to http://www.Mercola.com, ( the world’s largest opt-in health newsletter in the world), you will find over a hundred articles, based on research, that promote just the opposite. There are also studies showing that the “scare” numbers of problems are not accurate (the statistics are played with a little to make raw milk look bad.) I also remember a study that showed lab rates immune systems rapidly declining in direct proportion to the amount of dairy in their diet, and a rapid improvement in their immune system in direct proportion to the lessening of pasteurized milk in their diets. Only in America.

    Who to believe? Who to believe? We are the only industrialized country that drinks pasteurized milk. It has a longer shelf life, that’s for sure. Some of our friends from Europe expressed wonderment at long our milk stays “fresh”‘ in their refrigerators compared to back home.

    Check out some of the hundred plus articles on raw milk, Tim. You might find them interesting.

    Keep up the good work, Tim. Articles on good health are truly needed in our society, including this one. It gives us a lot of Food For Thought. There is so much to learn.



    • Hi, Tom. Thanks for sharing this information. We want everyone to have the information they need to make educated decisions about their own health. Thanks for reading!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.