California's Raw Milk Suppliers Soured By Tough Bacteria Standards

California dairies are bristling under regulations that limit the amount of yucky coliform bacteria allowed in raw milk. The new health standards set a maximum of 10 coliforms per milliliter, which upsets Mark McAfee, the founder of California’s largest raw milk dairy. According to McAfee, “There’s quite a ruckus right now.” Let’s see how he frames the issue.

“This is a huge issue and it goes directly to consumer choice. Consumers are fed up with the government being in their kitchens and they want to be able to make their independent choices about food they want to eat.”

Consumer choice is good, right? But doesn’t raw milk make people sick? The helpful folks at BarfBlog point out: “before widespread adoption of milk pasteurization, an estimated 25 per cent of all foodborne and waterborne outbreaks of disease were associated with milk.”

What does California, that kitchen-occupier of a state, have to say for itself?

“We found that coliform count is indicative of a healthy and clean and wholesome production process for raw milk,” said Steve Lyle, spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Raw milk may contain salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter and listeria. If you want to guzzle a tall fresh glass of bacteria, go for it, proud American. But please offer pasteurized milk to your kids.

Raw milk producers soured on new rules [AP]
(Photo: foxypar4)


Edit Your Comment

  1. darkened says:

    I have to side with Mark on this one, he should be well within his rights to sell raw milk. He should be required by law to do everything possible to prevent contamination of it between milking and delivery and be required to label it that it has not been pasteurized with a blurb about the risks just like menus have about eating undercooked meat and be fine to sell it.

  2. Buran says:

    What, they’re not taking it seriously?

  3. Buran says:

    @darkened: And I have to side with the public health authorities, who are charged with making sure that the public is protected from disease, including known vectors like food that is unsafe. And even if these guys do their best to make sure it’s safe while they’re in possession of it, who knows what would happen when it leaves their hands?

    Your right to eat what you want ends when you start posing a danger to other people. And that’s you, unless you’re a total hermit who never has contact with anyone else.

  4. ancientsociety says:

    @Buran: Raw milk as a vector for a highly communicable disease transmitable between humans?

    Which one(s) would that be, doc?

  5. strangecargo says:

    BURAN, that same paranoid thinking is what recently got RAW ALMONDS banned in the united states. 2 outbreaks of salmonella in the LAST 10 YEARS…and BAM! Raw Almonds are no longer. If you want almonds, they are gassed with a chemical that the european union has banned. It has forced local almond farmers to purchase ridiculously expensive equipment to “pasteurize” aka gas the almonds. And if you want organic RAW almonds, those are steam heated to “kill bacteria”

    When was the last time ANYONE got sick from RAW almonds?????! It’s government meddling at it’s worst.

    If you want to drink raw milk. fine. Just be aware of it’s potential health risks as well as all the documented health benefits.

    The raw milk dairies SHOULD be held to high standards to prevent contamination…but lets not get ridiculous!

  6. DeeJayQueue says:

    @Buran: I’m sorry, but who’s twisting my arm to make me drink raw milk instead of pasteurized milk? Oh, that’s right, nobody is.

    The raw milk isn’t hurting anyone who isn’t drinking it, and there’s no law against being stupid, so I say if there’s a market for it, have at it! I know I’m not going to be drinking it, but that’s my choice, just like it’s someone else’s choice TO consume that stuff.

  7. bluebuilder says:

    How about let’s stop eating the infant food of another species all-together?

  8. QuirkyRachel says:

    Well interestingly people who are lactose intolerant can have raw dairy products. See, pasteurization kills off the proteins we need to properly digest dairy products. Not to mention that a study published in two journals (Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology 2006 Jun;117(6):1374-81, and Clinical & Experimental Allergy Volume 37 Issue 5 Page 627-630, May 2007) showed that the more raw dairy products consumed, the fewer allergies and asthma reported by participants. Raw milk is very closely inspected as it goes from cow to bottle. Since those bacteria are also often found in pasteurized products, the safety of one versus the other is not really an issue.
    [more info can be found through the Weston Price Foundation (“The Foundation is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism,”]

  9. strangecargo says:

    Bluebuilder…I agree…Cow sMilk and milk products (especially homogenized, pasteurized) are one of the most disease causing foods on the planet. Clean or not. There’s TONS of research that prove how bad cow’s milk is for humans.
    All you have to do is google it.

  10. theblackdog says:

    @DeeJayQueue: You may not be having your arm twisted to drink raw milk, but there’s a number of parents who give raw milk to their kids, those kids don’t get a choice.

  11. Red_Eye says:

    This is getting ridiculous. It has created an even more unsafe cottage industry of raw milk sold for “pet consumption only”. Since pets can have raw milk thats not inspected AT ALL this means potentially unsafe milk still makes it to people who want it badly enough.

    I understand the nanny states need to coddle Joe average moron who thinks milk originates in a plastic jug at 7-11. But much like people who choose to consume fugu (google is your friend Joe average) choosing to consume a raw product like milk or the now unavailable ANYWHERE in CA Raw Almonds should be a choice.

    Should my tax dollars pay to heal the person who gets sick from it, nahhh. But if I want raw milk to make some cheese then I shouldn’t have to contact the CDC and get a special permission slip…

  12. twitley says:

    Raw milk from certain CA herds has been shown to contain Salmonella_dublin_ on an intermittent basis. That’s one of the things that pasteurization defends against. But if you *are* going to allow sale of raw milk, which some jurisdictions prohibit, requiring a low coliform count reduces the risk. Most of pathogenic bacteria get there from cow feces, and a lower coliform count indicates a lower amount of fecal contamination.

    BTW, Buran, S. dublin sickened several people in CA, and killed a few, back when I was in public health there. It can also spread TB, typhoid, and other diseases, although I don’t recall any recent cases in the US.

  13. firesign says:

    @bluebuilder: how about not?

  14. Red_Eye says:

    One other thing to consider. Milk is a fixed price commodity, unlike slaughtered beef where the fastest and cheapest to market is the winner leading to huge amounts of e.coli in our beef, milk prices are set. A federal dairy cartel controls the milk prices in all but the peoples republic of California which has its own board. Bottom line is those groups set the minimum a milk farmer is paid for their product, if the need to raise costs to keep the product clean then the retailers have no choice in it. []

  15. chartrule says:

    I agree 100% with Buran

    Coliform bacteria has long been an indicator of contamination and possible presence of intestinal parasites and pathogens.

  16. Veeber says:

    @QuirkyRachel: Wouldn’t it be a better practice for those who are lactose intolerant to just not drink milk? It’s so odd that we continue to suggest that people drink something for which 70% of the adult population is unable to digest.

  17. darkened says:

    @Chartrule then don’t consume it or purchase it. People have all rights to still make their own decisions. Just as all people still have the rights to choose to not vaccinate their children. If I ever have children I will most likely never give them the MMR vaccine. While I myself was forced to have it, given the facts about it i know now I would not ever consider the risks to outweigh the possible consequences.

  18. Buran says:

    @ancientsociety: If you get infected by it and transmit it to someone else when pasteurized milk wouldn’t have carried the disease, that’s the problem.

  19. Buran says:

    @darkened: And that too is wilfully and knowingly putting other people at risk for disease when you could be doing something to mitigate that risk.

    I am disabled due to a side effect of prenatal rubella which could have been prevented by a vaccine. It’s incurable right now and I will probably have this disability for life. So you’ll have to pardon me if I speak from experience here when I take a hard line on people who know they’re doing something that increases risk for other people.

    Put yourself in others’ shoes for a change. Will drinking pasteurized milk hurt you? no. Will it taste different? A bit. Will it help others? Hell yes. But today it’s all about me, me, me, screw anyone else no matter how serious the consequences.

  20. tj2010 says:

    @Chris Vee: I’m not a doctor/scientist, but the reason people are lactose intolerant is because the process of pasteurization removes lactase from the milk. Lactase is an enzyme that helps us digest lactose. So, I guess you could say lactose intollerance is a man-made symptom.

  21. Antediluvian says:

    I’m consistently amazed at the amount of anti-organic, anti-choice opinions here at Consumerist, most of which seem to originate from the NYC-based editors.

    Would I drink raw milk that I didn’t raise myself, or from an unknown source? Not likely.

    Should I prevent someone who wants to do so from having that option? No.

    Part of hullabaloo is the politics of agri-business dairy “cartels” and part of it is a trend towards a nanny state mentality / lack of personal responsibility (except for financial matters, those are your own fault), but the majority of it is simply ignorance.

    The raw milk market is infinitesimal compared to the pasteurized milk market. It is similar to the organic movement 40 years ago. While it is highly unlikely it will have the same growth and acceptance as organic (because once it’s in a processed food, it’s no longer “raw” milk, but organic is still organic), why shouldn’t it?

    There is a huge difference between harmful pathogens in presumed clean environments (think E. coli in hamburger — you don’t expect your meat to have bacteria in it) and a known “raw” product.

    Buran is 100% wrong.

  22. ancientsociety says:

    @Buran: Again, infected by WHAT? What can you get “infected” by by drinking raw milk which is then communicable from you to others?

    Granted, if you drank raw milk, you could contract something that could harm or kill YOU, but there’s nothing you could contract that would then be communicable to others…

  23. darkened says:

    @Buran that’s unfortunate, after reading more about the risks of contracting rubella while pregnant I would far more likely consider it with a daughter, however after reading more about what effects the virus causes that gives me no reason to risk any male children to an extra chance of autism so they don’t have a virus similar to chicken pox

  24. ancientsociety says:

    @Chris Vee: Being lactose-intolerant, I can tell you it’s extremely difficult to just “not eat dairy”.

    Dairy and dairy by-products are in nearly every processed food made today. Do what I had to do and and start reading the ingredients on everything you buy next time you go grocery shopping. I can guarantee you at least 50% of the products will have some form of milk, egg yolks, whey, or lactose in them.

    I have found though that I can eat and drink small amounts of organic dairy products from time to time without it hurting me. Infer what you may but personally I think my lactose-intolerance (which happened when I turned 20) is somewhat the result of all the chemicals and antibiotics they put in dairy products nowadays

  25. Anonymous says:

    if I want to buy my milk from a local farmer why is this such a problem? The last major outbreaks of tainted food came from government regulated food sources; spinach and peanut butter anyone?

  26. I’m not sure what the problem is here.. Like most unprocessed foods, raw milk is a niche item these days. You have to go out of your way to get the stuff and the arcane laws states have put in place to get it. I myself wanted to try some as an adult, but didn’t want to feel like some prohibition era bootlegger taking back roads at night to procure it.

    There are much greater public health risks and I still buy that pastuerized white gold at my local supermarket 99.9% of the time.

  27. BrodskyLaw says:

    The ignorance here is unbelievable. Feeding your kids pasteurized dairy is like giving them liquid formica. Zero enzymes, no usable nutrition, and completely undigestible. Ever wonder why Americans are so fat, unhealthy, and stupid? It’s the processed food we eat (exhibit A — pasteurized dairy). Editors… please read more on the subject before you make silly statements about drinking a glass of bacteria. Some great places to start:


  28. asherchang2 says:

    @Antediluvian: Someone gets a serious illness from raw milk, touches their face before washing their hands, you touch their face and eat something without washing your hands, you get sick, and it was some other person’s fault. Wouldn’t you want the government to prevent a situation like this?

    What if parents give raw milk to their kids? Do those people have the right to impose on them a dangerous product just because the government should stay out of our kitchens?

  29. asherchang2 says:

    @ancientsociety: Nope. Prolly your genes. Adults are supposed to lose their lactose-digesting abilities as they grow up anyways.

  30. asherchang2 says:

    @BrodskyLaw: Pasteurized milk makes people stupid?


  31. Buran says:

    @Antediluvian: So I’m 100% wrong to say that being a selfish jerk who doesn’t care about the dangers their choices impose on other people is, well, being a selfish jerk?

    It’s easy to mouth off when you (likely) haven’t personally been literally scarred for life because of someone else’s unthinking/uncaring choices.

  32. BrodskyLaw says:

    @asherchang2: Raw milk is not a “dangerous product.” I say the pasteurized variety is dangerous. Parents who give it to their kids should be arrested. Keeps your kids fat, dull, lazy, stupid and very unhealthy. Educate yourself.

  33. BrodskyLaw says:

    @asherchang2: Apparently so, judging by most of the comments posted here.

  34. asherchang2 says:

    Teat juice that contains protein, sugar, calcium, vitamins and sometimes fat is the worst thing in the world, but if you add salmonella and a slew of other bacteria in addition to enzymes that will be destroyed by your stomach anyways, it turns into this miracle food!?

  35. asherchang2 says:

    @BrodskyLaw: So you’ve never ever ever in your life had pasteurized milk touch your lips? []

  36. ancientsociety says:

    @Buran: @asherchang2:

    From the FDA website:

    ‘Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.”

    Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria are NON-COMMUNICABLE from person-to-person. Your arguments about a person who drinks raw milk somehow “infecting” others are baseless.

  37. DeeJayQueue says:

    @asherchang2: “Someone gets a serious illness from raw milk, touches their face before washing their hands, you touch their face and eat something without washing your hands, you get sick, and it was some other person’s fault. Wouldn’t you want the government to prevent a situation like this?
    Ok, that’s also how hepatitis is spread, as well as a the common cold, the flu, and myriad other bacterial and viral infections. What, is the government going to tell us that we all have to wash our hands when we go potty?

    I can’t wait till our children’s children have absolutely NO immune system because everything in the world is sterilized, while the diseases that are out there are getting more and more resistant to drugs because helicopter parents and hypochondriacs don’t feel like putting up with a little sniffle now and then. It’s not going to be bombs that kill us, it’s going to be the common freaking cold.

  38. babaki says:

    @darkened: you statements about the MMR vaccine are almost comical. its clear you only read one side of the study about autism because the wakefield study has been disproven and deemed false. In fact, every major world health organization has stated there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism. the fact that you would subject your children to a disease with a known vaccine because of a single propaganda study appalls me.

    about the raw milk. if people want to buy raw milk then let them. the risks should be made clear on the product packaging to discourage novice consumers who haven’t done their research from buying it. all of this nonsense about pasteurized milk being poison is just stupid. people have been drinking milk forever and we all turned out just fine….well most of us anyway.

    and yes, the since the diseases you can get from raw milk are all BACTERIA, it can be transmitted to other people.

  39. DeeJayQueue says:

    @babaki: while the infections are indeed bacteria, they’re all bacteria that originate and live in the intestine. This means that in order to transmit the disease you have to play in your own poo, then not wash your hands and go play tag in the office. Not only is this a great way to transmit E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria, but a host of other diseases as well, none of which are found in or caused by drinking raw milk.

    Toxoplasmosis causes brain and eye damage, and is caused by eating cat shit. So, should we get the government involved to tell us not to eat cat shit? Or should we just say, Hey, that’s not a good idea to be eating cat shit.

    If you get a bacterial infection from someone else, it’s because they didn’t wash their hands, not because they drank raw milk.

  40. Antediluvian says:

    @Antediluvian: So I’m 100% wrong to say that being a selfish jerk who doesn’t care about the dangers their choices impose on other people is, well, being a selfish jerk?

    It’s easy to mouth off when you (likely) haven’t personally been literally scarred for life because of someone else’s unthinking/uncaring choices.

    Yeah, Buran, that’s exactly what I said. You got me, I said that.

    And I stand by it.

    Well, not your personal spin on it, but the statements I made (including the one about you being wrong). But unlike you, I didn’t bring personalities into it. I said your statements were wrong. And as many others have pointed out, your statements ARE wrong.

  41. humorbot says:

    You can look here for the latest regarding the raw milk “scandal” in California. Yes, it originates from that diabolical baby-poisoner Mark McAfee himself. Pay special attention to point 2.

    And babaki, people have been drinking milk “forever” of course, but for most of that forever, the milk wasn’t pasteurized.

  42. Antediluvian says:

    To all those who are saying the government needs to protect people from consuming raw milk:

    Are you also all against legal alcohol sales? Alcohol causes far, far more problems than raw milk EVER will, and has some amount of government regulation, yet is still legal to possess and consume, and even sell. Consuming too much is not in and of itself a crime (only if you’re doing it in public). Doing things while impaired is a crime, but the government does nothing more to prevent that from happening than telling people “don’t do that or we’ll fine and jail you,” not banning the substance completely.

    I’m confused about the double-standard. And yes, I know it’s an annoying straw-man type argument, but the basis of the question is legitimate and valid: if you’re opposed to a product you claim can cause health issues among users, why not ban alcohol too?

    To those arguing about parents feeding children raw milk, do you support the government banning alcohol use by pregnant women? It is not currently illegal to drink alcohol (or smoke, or use caffeine) while pregnant (there are cases where women have been prosecuted but they’re under different laws and extreme circumstances).

    Why does this substance (raw milk) cause such uproar while alcohol does not?

  43. burgundyyears says:

    I see the nutty granola crunchers are out in force today. Charming.

  44. babaki says:

    @humorbot: its pasteurized for about 100 years. id say thats a pretty good amount time to see adverse effects.

  45. babaki says:

    @DeeJayQueue: if i was drinking cat milk, i would expect there to measures in place to make sure there was no shit in it, yes.

  46. ceriphim says:

    @darkened: You must be kidding. In the unfortunate case you aren’t, you shouldn’t have children. AUTISM IS NOT CAUSED BY VACCINES. Read the literature. When will people pull their heads out of their ***es and look at the actual data.

    Are you one of those people who believes only nature’s remedies are best and take advice from “scienticians”, too? In that case I’ve got some magnets to sell you…

  47. Buran says:

    @ancientsociety: Fine. You want me to do the search you’re too damn lazy to do? 5 lousy minutes?

    Here’s the answers your high horse is too high for you to look down and see.

    FDA and CDC Remind Consumers of the Dangers of Drinking Raw Milk

  48. j-bird says:

    Most people are seriously confused about milk.

    Pasteurization has little to do with health and everything to do with practical matters. Without pasteurization, the transport, distribution, and sale of industrial milk and cheese as we know it would be impossible.

    Pasteurization is the worst thing you can do to milk and organic pasteurized milk is just as bad as non-organic milk. Nearly ALL commercial pasteurized dairy is very unhealthy and should be avoided. Pasturization destroys all enzymes and nutrients in milk.

    When one reaches raw milk you truly have a healthy product but even then one can have different grades. Better yet would be from cows that were nearly exclusively grass-fed.

    Nobody can deny raw milk consumption is growing in America, as it is one of the healthiest foods anyone could consume. It simply has more nutrients. Raw milk is also less allergenic, it tastes better, and it is not associated with any of the health problems surrounding pasteurized milk such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea and cramps. Even people who have been allergic to pasteurized milk for many years can typically tolerate and even thrive on raw milk.

    Raw milk is an outstanding source of nutrients including beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidolphilus, vitamins and enzmes, and it is, in my estimation, the finest source of calcium available.

    The pasteurization process, which entails heating the milk to a temperature of 145 degrees to 150 degrees F and keeping it there for at least half an hour and then reducing the temperature to not more than 55 degrees F, completely changes the structure of the milk proteins (denaturization) into something far less than healthy. While the process certainly destroys germs and bad bacteria, it also destroys the milkë­© beneficial bacteria along with many of its nutritious components.

    Pasteurizing milk destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12, and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria and promotes pathogens. You may notice that raw milk left out will sour naturally but pasteurized milk will rot. This is because the beneficial bacteria in the raw milk helps to keep putrefactive bacteria under control. Pasteurized milk, however, does not have any of the beneficial bacteria left to keep it from rotting.

    Pasteurized cow’s milk is the number one allergic food in this country. It has been associated with a number of symptoms and illnesses including:

    Gastrointestinal bleeding
    Iron-deficiency anemia
    Skin rashes
    Colic in infants
    Increased tooth decay
    Increased tooth decay
    Growth problems in children
    Heart disease
    Recurrent ear infections in children
    Type 1 diabetes
    Rheumatoid arthritis

    There is also a problem with a protein enzyme called xanthine oxidase which is in cow’s milk. Normally, proteins are broken down once you digest them. However, when milk is homogenized, small fat globules surround the xanthine oxidase and it is absorbed intact into your blood stream. There is some very compelling research demonstrating clear associations with this absorbed enzyme and increased risks of heart disease.

    Most people have been so conditioned to believe that the healthy growth of their children’s bones is dependent upon receiving calcium from processed cow’s milk that they view milk commercials as more of a public service announcement than an attempt by businessmen to sell a product.

    As with any food, fresher is always better and this applies to milk as well. Fresh raw milk is creamier and better tasting than pasteurized milk that has a shelf-life of several weeks. Ultra-high-temperature milk can be stored without refrigeration for about six months.

    Obtaining raw milk can be a challenge but it is well worth the effort to seek out. I would suggest contacting a dairy farmer and asking him or her to buy the raw milk directly.

    It is technically illegal to sell in many states but many people tell them they are using the milk for their pets. Alternatively, another strategy that has stood nearly every legal test is the cow-share program. One merely purchases a small ownership of a cow for $10 or $20 and then the farmer is able to sell you the milk from the cow as you are part owner and it is perfectly legal to drink raw milk from your own cow.

  49. ancientsociety says:

    @Buran: Are you blind? I just to a quote FROM THE EXACT SAME SITE. And anyway, that doesn’t prove your point (and I’ll say this once more) about communicable diseases considering it talks about bacterial infections which are NON-COMMUNICABLE. So the only way your specious logic about people becoming vectors for pandemics by drinking raw milk is if that person had a bunch of people consume his or her bodily waste.

  50. darkened says:

    @ceriphim: No, it just seriously comes down to I completely distrust the FDA and it’s “studies” that are so biased, it’s unbelievable. While the link between autism and the MMR vaccine might be entirely correlated and correlation does not imply causation, ignoring it anyway still is generally naive. I’d gladly have taken a 2nd type of chicken pox than have even given myself a correlated connection to autism.

    It’s the same reason I would never have used the chicken pox vaccine, flu vaccine and similar, these vaccines offer very little benefit to our bodies and risk numerous complications from usage. While I now understand the MMR shots have an importance for protecting women from passing it on to their fetuses, what benefit does it offer males?

    In this day and age these are all easily treatable in the extreme rare cases any person gets them in the first place. Rebulla is treated with tylonel. Injecting a permanently immune system changing serum into anyone’s body shouldn’t be taken so lightly so you don’t have to take a couple of cold medicine pills!

  51. TechnoDestructo says:

    You know what you get when you mix 10 coliforms into a milliliter of raw milk?

    A milliliter of coliforms.

  52. babaki says:

    @TechnoDestructo: a shit shake!

  53. asherchang2 says:

    @Antediluvian: Because while raw milk is only a health issue, alcohol is a traffic safety issue, an acute poisoning issue, a criminal and violence issue, and for some people a moral issue.

  54. themediatrix says:

    People. From the AP article:

    “Coliforms are a group of bacteria commonly found in the environment, most of which *do not cause disease.* … We found that coliform count is *indicative* of a healthy and clean and wholesome production process for raw milk,” said Steve Lyle, spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.”

    Coliforms do not cause disease. And just because a lower coliform count is associated with a clean production process, that doesn’t mean it is the result of, or responsible for, a clean production process. This is an example of regulating something just to make us feel better about it.

    There’s no science behind this decision.

  55. ceriphim says:

    @darkened: How about preventing permanent injury/disfigurement/death? Chicken Pox can be quite dangerous if you get it as an adult, hell, in some cases even if you aren’t. How about Polio? Should we have kept people from getting polio vaccines because there was a potential side effect? How about being crippled because you didn’t take it at all?

    What about the societal effects on the large scale? What if your son passes Rubella on to a pregnant woman? Measles especially is only dangerous because it is insanely contagious, and because of the large number of complications that result from a huge outbreak, which would overwhelm health care resources.
    You may be on lone crank who feels it’s in your own best interest not to use these vaccines, but what right do you have to expose other people and society at large by not preventing your children from spreading these diseases to others?

  56. humorbot says:

    Frack, man. Everybody got their britches in a bunch about this stuff. I don’t even drink milk (I crunch my granola down with soy, thank you very much burgundyyears), but I do believe people should be permitted to purchased raw milk. At the very least, those producers of raw milk who amount to a percent of a percent of a percent of the total milk produced in this country should not be subjected to intentionally malicious and deceptive regulation. It’s true that once in a while someone could get sick. It’s also true that pasteurized milk can have immuno-depressive effects and, along with all the other processed garbage we eat, all sorts of long-term impacts that are not as neatly alarmist as coliform in the baby’s bottle.

    The issues are bigger, and have less to do with raw milk specifically than commercial scale food production at large. After all, feedlot beef–something most consumers never think twice about eating–was the source of the e. coli that contaminated bagged spinach back in summer and resulted in more deaths than raw milk ever has. Have there been any substantial changes in regulation or consumption of either the beef or the spinach since?

    It’s a lot easier to pick on those little hippy-dippy raw milkers, no?

  57. SuperSally says:

    One communicable disease you can get from raw milk is TB. And you can’t really tell if a cow is tubercular until it’s almost dead–there aren’t a lot of symptoms. There were people who died of milk related TB when my mom was a kid, and that wasn’t so long ago–she was born in 1946.

  58. Buran says:

    @ancientsociety: Are YOU blind? You apparently don’t learn from the very website you quote!

    But just to hammer in my point that you’re wrong, here are more links that took me 5 minutes to find:

    Communicable disease associated with milk and dair…[J Infect. 1986] – PubMed Result


    News Release


    E. coli 0157:H7 Infection


    And in case you’re missing my point and going to whine that it’s none of my business, it is considering what “communicable” means:

    communicable – Definitions from

    You DID know that E. coli and Salmonella, both of which are a danger of raw milk, ARE COMMUNICABLE DISEASES? The very site I quoted lists those as hazards, and yet you called me blind!

    I cited that site for a reason. Too bad you failed to do your research and see why.

  59. Buran says:

    @Antediluvian: Choice is OK — until you put other peoples’ health and life in danger. Read up on the links I posted above. Do you remember the E. coli spinach outbreak that was killing people a while back? THAT is why the opinion is anti-choice.

    “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”.

  60. krunk4ever says:

    Once again, fails to give both sides of the story and appears to be quite biased against raw milk. Stories like these may get you more hits, but only further distinguish you guys from a reliable and trustworthy news source.

  61. krunk4ever says:

    I personally don’t drink raw milk. In fact, I drink ultra-pasteurized milk. However, I have nothing against those who drink raw milk.

    Did you know when you drink expired pasteurized milk, YOU WILL GET SICK. However, raw milk will only turn sour after some time and is STILL perfectly drinkable.

    For those who know nothing about raw milk besides what Consumerist and what this article claims, please read: []

  62. krunk4ever says:

    I personally don’t drink raw milk. In fact, I usually drink ultra-pasteurized milk. However, I have nothing against raw milk and if people prefer raw milk, I say give them that choice.

    For those who only know of what raw milk based on what Consumerist and this article tells you, I implore you to straighten your facts before continue this debate: []

    Did you know that if you drink expired pasteurized milk, YOU WILL GET SICK. Raw milk does not expire, it just turns sour and even drinking sour raw milk will not get you sick.

  63. ceriphim says:

    @krunk4ever: Jesus. I was about to yell “PLANT” until I checked your post history. Instead, you’re just… Calling The Consumerist biased against raw milk (?) and advocating for an unpasteurized milk website. Aight…

  64. Antediluvian says:

    [I ask why all the fuss over raw milk when not over alcohol which has similar health consequences]
    @Antediluvian: Because while raw milk is only a health issue, alcohol is a traffic safety issue, an acute poisoning issue, a criminal and violence issue, and for some people a moral issue.

    And my further reply:
    All those issues you raise boil down to health issues. Traffic safety: health. Acute poisoning: health. Criminal: huh…. maybe not that one. Violence: health, big-time. Moral: back at health, much like people with various diseases or conditions are considered by some to be immoral (think AIDS, leprosy, depression, etc).

    Alcohol kills and injures bazillions of people each year, costs the economy katillions of dollars in lost productivity, and yet we’re still allowed to drink ourselves into oblivion if we want to. Hell, you can even make your own at home (up to a certain amount, and don’t you dare distill anything).

    And don’t get me started about how alcohol spreads disease: think of all those STI’s transmitted due to drunken indiscretions and beer goggles.

    The tone of my comments in this post are light-hearted, but the facts are real (not the made-up number words, obviously).

    But suddenly with raw milk, the parallels get tossed aside.

    I disagree. I think they should be compared, and that the personal freedom we extend to alcohol drinkers should be extended to those who wish to consume raw milk.

    You cannot claim raw milk is going to be responsible for chaos and while ignoring the accepted reality that is alcohol.

    I’m willing to bet that alcohol spreads more disease in a single night than raw milk does all year.

    And here we go:
    From Buran’s link to the FDA website:
    From 1998 to May 2005 CDC identified 45 outbreaks of foodborne illness that implicated unpasteurized milk, or cheese made from unpasteurized milk. These outbreaks accounted for 1,007 illnesses, 104 hospitalizations, and two deaths. This is based on information in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the week of March 2, 2007. The actual number of illnesses was almost certainly higher because not all cases of illness are recognized and reported.

    That’s a little over 1000 illnesses and a hundred hospitalizations over 7 years, and two deaths.
    Seven years. Call it six because the text is imprecise. Even tripling the number (since the FDA suggests it’s actually higher), we get
    3000 illnesses in 6 years = 2000 illnesses per year
    300 hospitalizations in 6 years = 50 per year
    6 deaths in six years = 1 death per year.

    Alcohol: in the year 2000 alone:
    85,000 deaths due to alcohol consumption, including
    16,653 deaths due to alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes
    “Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000” by Ali H. Mokdad, PhD, et al.
    JAMA, March 10, 2004 – Vol 291, No 10
    Clarification issued January 10, 2005.
    Cited by []
    Retrieved 2007-12-28

    I’m going to stop there and leave the illness and hospitalization stats research as an exercise for the reader.

  65. Antediluvian says:

    The gist of my above (long) post:
    Alcohol kills more people, injures more people, and spreads more disease EACH DAY than raw milk does all year.

  66. asherchang2 says:

    @supersally: Wonderful. And with the drug-resistant strains of TB coming up, all we have to do is quarantine raw milk drinkers and we can rid society of the worst of the Luddite fascists.

  67. Antediluvian says:

    And frankly, with better (easier) regulations and oversight for the raw milk producers:
    – illness and disease could be tracked back to certain producers
    – consumers could be alerted of outbreaks
    – outbreaks could be prevented (pull sick animals out of production and not sell known-contaminated product)

    Prohibition didn’t work well with alcohol, it’s not working well with drugs, and it’s not a good idea for raw milk either.

    BTW, as I said before, I personally would not likely choose to drink raw milk, but I support that right for others. I also choose not to do drugs (other than alcohol), but support that right for others.

  68. asherchang2 says:

    @Antediluvian: Even though your treatment of all of alcohol’s sociological ramifications as health-related is very suspect, the raw milk/alcohol comparison is a false analogy anyways. Alcohol is a drug.

    Raw milk is a food, which potentially harvests more pathogens than anything else tolerated by the FDA. California’s regulations aren’t banning the stuff anyways, they’re just making sure that raw milk doesn’t harbor too much potentially harmful bacteria. What’s wrong with that? There’s a set limit to mouse hairs and insect parts in our peanut butter. Don’t consumers have the right to be assured that there’s a cap to impurities in the products that they buy?

  69. asherchang2 says:

    oops, “harbors”, not “harvests”

  70. asherchang2 says:

    @j-bird: Where have I seen that list of ailments before? Oh yeah, in PETA’s scare tactics campaign against any and all milk consumption whatsoever. Great. Way to borrow from the pro lunatics.

    Everyone! The milk you’re drinking right now causes CANCER!!!!

    (btw, very few people have allergies to milk. Were you talking about lactose intolerance?)

  71. Antediluvian says:

    @Antediluvian: Even though your treatment of all of alcohol’s sociological ramifications as health-related is very suspect, the raw milk/alcohol comparison is a false analogy anyways. Alcohol is a drug.

    I will vehemently defend the issues surrounding alcohol (ab)use as health-related, but I do agree with you that alcohol is a drug, and (raw) milk is a food. I disagree that this difference invalidates the comparison. I also started the analogy with a disclaimer about a strawman argument.

    (Oddly enough, the FDA is the Food AND Drug Administration — who knew?.)

    I’m not informed enough to comment on the validity of your statement that “raw milk … potentially [harbors] more pathogens than anything else tolerated by the FDA.” But let’s assume it’s correct on its face.

    Well, SOMETHING has to have the most “potential” pathogens if we’re ranking products, right? And the word “potential” give a lot of room to wiggle. But say we’re talking about only dairy products. Given that ALL other dairy products have been pasteurized, the sole unpasteurized product OF COURSE could “potentially harbor” more of EVERYTHING (helpful wee beasties as well as pathogenic ones) than the pasteurized products.

    And as I said above, I don’t have problems with regulations that actually allow for the sale of raw milk. I’m concerned about policies that effectively regulate the product out of existence.

    Of course consumers have a right to KNOW what “impurities” are in their products, and to make a choice based on that information. At some level, the free market will settle some of these questions, provided there’s enough opportunity.

    Think back to the issue of rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone). In New England, many consumers and dairies wanted milk produced without rBGH, and now some brands carry labels stating “no artificial growth hormone.” Informed consumers can choose which products to purchase.

    I can’t believe I just used a pro-capitalist approach to support milk freedom. Didn’t see that one coming.

  72. Red_Eye says:

    @Buran: Welcome, are you a US citizen? Didn’t you realize this country is about an individuals rights not the controls put in place by the nanny state? Or at least it was when it was founded.

    And regarding my right to swing, if you choose to not participate in certain issues don’t put your nose in the business. From the articles you have quoted good sanitation practices will prevent the communicability of every disease. If you want to live in a bubble then go get in one, leave those of us willing to take a risk alone.

    CERIPHIM re:Chicken pox During 2003 and the first half of 2004, CDC received
    reports of eight varicella-related deaths. The age of the decedents
    ranged from 1 to 40 years. Six of the eight deaths
    occurred among children and adolescents aged Between March 1995 and July 1998, the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) received 6, 574 reports of health problems after chickenpox vaccination. That translates into 67.5 adverse events per 100,000 doses of vaccine or one in 1,481 vaccinations. About four percent of cases (about 1 in 33,000 doses) were serious including shock, encephalitis, thrombocytopenia (blood disorder) and 14 deaths.

    Lets see 14 deaths from the vaccine, over 3 years versus 8 in one year for the disease. Of course the 8 were spread over the entire population which is much larger than the vaccination group in those 3 years. Keep in mind though that the two numbers will be cumulative, some will die from disease and some will die from vaccine so while we may have prevented some natural infections we may be causing more deaths.

  73. Buran says:

    @Red_Eye: You can take a risk all you want when it doesn’t affect anyone else. Not when you put other peoples’ lives in danger. I’m not going to allow that risk to happen when it can and will harm other people who didn’t choose to undertake that risk. I’m already handicapped once for life from someone else’s stupid choices. I’ve been there. How about I rip out your ears and see how you like it, and tell you that there’s no treatment to make you whole and probably won’t be til after you (and I) die?

    I suppose you’re also the sort who puffs away on cigarettes in public places, fuck anyone who doesn’t want to get lung cancer from the crap you spew back out into the air other people have to breathe.

    So if you want to get drunk in the privacy of your own home, or smoke in your own home, or do whatever stupid shit you want that won’t do a damn thing to other people, fine.

    The second you do something that can and will harm other people (and yes, even the most well-intentioned of people can and do spread disease when they’re sick) you have crossed the line.

    Individual rights? Seems like all you give a damn about are yours, not anyone else’s right to good health and absence of harm.

  74. Antediluvian says:

    @Red_Eye: You can take a risk all you want when it doesn’t affect anyone else. Not when you put other peoples’ lives in danger. I’m not going to allow that risk to happen when it can and will harm other people who didn’t choose to undertake that risk.

    And this is how my posts comparing raw milk to alcohol lose strawman status and become real.

    Buran, I feel for your situation (and as I stated, I’m pro-vaccine) but your argument doesn’t hold water here. In addition, you consistently attack the person, not the person’s argument, losing credibility in the process.

    Raw milk doesn’t cause disease. Poor sanitation — anywhere — allows disease to spread. Proper sanitation — all along the processing chain, including the consumer — prevents disease.

    I’m also okay with people eating their steaks rare, and their eggs runny (two things I personally don’t care for). Poached eggs? Traditional Caesar salad dressing? Chocolate mousse made with egg whites? Raw eggs in protein shakes?

    All have potential for serious illness, but none of those are illegal, nor should they be.

  75. ppiddyp says:

    I don’t think there’s been research that has shown a _causal_ relationship between raw milk consumption and lowered asthma/allergy rates and off the top of my head I can probably think dozens other factors that could be at play here. Why put yourself at risk? Pasteurization is one the biggest public health advances we’ve made. Sure, not that many people die now from drinking raw milk, but how large is the pool of people drinking raw milk??

    That said, I firmly believe in the individual’s right to put themselves at whatever risk they want to. However, before a person puts themselves in harm’s way they need to be aware of the risks and benefits of what they’re doing. And here’s the problem: most people that drink raw milk probably don’t understand the risks or benefits very well.

    Just going on my personal experience with raw milk consumers, I’d say there aren’t many of them that understand or trust clinical or epidemiological research. Mostly they’re drinking raw milk because some HIGHLY unreliable source told them it’s good for ’em. These are the sort of people who ignore good public health research because it’s a tool of the corporatocracy, but put tons of faith in ‘research’ that’s really just conjecture and/or marketing put out by a skeezy ‘healthy living’ industry.

    Read the comments above about raw milk’s alleged benefits. I don’t see too many sources cited. Mostly it’s a lot of wild statements about raw milk’s magical healing properties that send up instant BS detector flags for me. Just because some raw milk special interest group tells you it’s healthy, doesn’t make it so. Just because you want/need to believe something is true doesn’t make it so, either.

    When in doubt, search Pub Med.

  76. Antediluvian says:

    @PatrickAustin: I’m not a fan of homeopathy either, but there are tons of people who swear by it, scientific method be damned.

    Lots of wild statements, BS flags and all. But if people want to do it, I say go ahead, but be mindful.

    Same with raw milk.

  77. Buran says:

    @Antediluvian: How exactly is “when you do something that harms other people, it crosses the line” a personal attack? Wow, now you’re attacking ME for having a belief that I apply to everyone and everything. How is THAT not a personal attack?

    If I individually call you stupid, that’s a personal attack. I didn’t call anyone stupid in the post, just stated my (from personal experience no less) belief.

  78. Antediluvian says:

    @Buran: The part I quoted wasn’t the personal attack. This was the your personal attack in that post:
    I suppose you’re also the sort who puffs away on cigarettes in public places, fuck anyone who doesn’t want to get lung cancer from the crap you spew back out into the air other people have to breathe.
    Well, actually, it continues to the end of your post, but that’s where it started.

    You continue,
    Wow, now you’re attacking ME for having a belief that I apply to everyone and everything. How is THAT not a personal attack?

    Here are two sources that might help clear that up for you:
    Personal Attack from Wikipedia: []
    Ad Hominem from Wikipedia:

    Obviously I’m not attacking you for holding opinions. I’m attacking your ARGUMENT (thus my phrase, “your argument doesn’t hold water here”). I’ve also said you were “100% wrong” but none of my statements was a PERSONAL ATTACK. At no point in this thread did I EVER personally attack you, your misinterpretation @Buran here notwithstanding.

    But here are some others FROM you in this thread:
    Put yourself in others’ shoes for a change. Will drinking pasteurized milk hurt you? no. Will it taste different? A bit. Will it help others? Hell yes. But today it’s all about me, me, me, screw anyone else no matter how serious the consequences.
    It’s easy to mouth off when you (likely) haven’t personally been literally scarred for life because of someone else’s unthinking/uncaring choices.
    Fine. You want me to do the search you’re too damn lazy to do? 5 lousy minutes? Here’s the answers your high horse is too high for you to look down and see.
    Are YOU blind? You apparently don’t learn from the very website you quote! But just to hammer in my point that you’re wrong, here are more links that took me 5 minutes to find:

  79. Buran says:

    @Antediluvian: Wow, you really must have nothing to do if you’re going to bitch about other peoples’ posts.

    The first one was not a personal attack. It was an “I’m speaking from experience here, are you? Try to look at it from that point of view” request.

    The second one said “likely”, to avoid actually making an attack, and pointed out a truth that if you aren’t speaking from experience, it’s easy to think that what you are doing is no big deal. Again, not an attack.

    The third one is the truth. Five minutes looking into the dangerous organisms the page I cited would have drawn the same conclusion that I was forced to plainly lay out when the evidence was right there. It really did only take me five minutes to be able to find specific examples of the danger. If you’re going to make claims in a discussion, you should be able to back them up. I found the evidence and quoted it.

    The fourth one was a direct response to me being insulted. I didn’t pull that line out until it was used as a direct attack on me, like the “is reading comprehension not your thing?” insult I see flying all over the place. You know, that “do unto others as you’d have done unto you” thing. You fling it at me, I fling it at you.

    But whatever, it seems that if you’re going to accuse ME of misunderstanding, you certainly did misread me.

    Maybe I need to start putting “THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON YOU” disclaimer on everything I post that is not actually an attack. You certainly can attack someone’s beliefs or their (lack of) bothering to actually inform themself on an issue without insulting the person.

  80. Antediluvian says:


  81. Antediluvian says:

    Oh, and so people don’t just think all pasteurized milk is home-free on the problems front:
    DPH Issues Consumer Warning for Milk Products Sold at Whittier Farms in Shrewsbury
    Boston – The Department of Public Health (DPH) is issuing a warning to consumers not to drink any milk products from Whittier Farms in Shrewsbury because of listeria bacteria contamination.

    Four cases of listeriosis infection have been identified by DPH. The cases occurred in June, October and two in November. DNA fingerprinting conducted by the State Laboratory Institute showed that the bacteria causing these infections came from a common source. Samples collected showed product contamination.

    Health authorities inundated with calls about tainted milk

  82. Buran says:

    @Antediluvian: What? You asked. If you don’t believe me, I’m sorry. That’s the truth of the matter.

  83. jimconsumer says:

    @asherchang2: You said, “What if parents give raw milk to their kids? Do those people have the right to impose on them a dangerous product just because the government should stay out of our kitchens?”

    My response: You’re damn right people have that right. The government has no business telling me how to raise my children. Raw milk is not a “dangerous product” and people catch the same diseases every day eating supposedly “safe” food bought at the local grocery store. So, yes, if I want to feed my children raw milk, that is my business. Period.

    Now, if my children are constantly sick because I’m feeding them poorly handled raw milk all the time, that’s a different story, but you go talk to some families who drink raw milk and find out how often they or their kids get sick. This is not a big scary dangerous thing like some would have you believe.

  84. TribalDruid says:

    @Buran: Many cases, studies, and facts all show that pasteurized milk has a very dirty track record. Raw milk has a trail as well. But where did this raw milk come from? Small-scale farmers? Conveniently this is all swept out of view from public attention. Why does such information remain shrouded?

    Could it relate to the inherent power of the dairy industry or even how much the FDA and USDA have tied up in such an empire? Should we be careful of enveloping ourselves so tightly in defense of something that we don’t fully understand or comprehend?

    This is not to say that we aren’t correct in many respects, but drawing conclusions based on surface analysis and strengthening a sense of self in order to uphold a conceptual belief in the mind doesn’t support reality. Nor does it help others by rigidly drawing conclusions. One must be prepared to relinquish deep seated beliefs.

    I feel it is very powerful to question the motive or motivation behind the groups attempting to subjugate or usurp the power of small groups of individuals. At times it seems we place far too much faith in establishments w/o a true understanding of what they are defending, who they are profiting, or how much they have invested in what they defend. And even much less into understanding what these establishments are comprised of.

    The deep seated belief here is that pasteurized milk is a safer substance; that essentially through means of pasteurization a much safer product is fashioned. Oftentimes what follows this assumption is that perhaps pasteurized milk is somehow better, and healthier. The obvious pressed ‘belief’ is that raw milk is an inherently dangerous substance unfit for consumption due to a high risk of harm. Notice the fear involved. Where did we first encounter these ‘conditioned’ beliefs? Was it in school? The young mind is easy to mold and establish foundations within. This is where we adopt the concepts of what we mistakenly accept as truth. The unconscious depths are teeming and riddled with this sort of information. The FDA, USDA and dairy industry have certainly taken hold of this opportunity in conditioning, have they not?

    Why has pasteurization only been in effect for the past century? What diseases and health issues have we seen an incredible & dramatic increase in over the past century? Who or what industries benefit from disease and degeneration? Who benefits from producing synthetic chemicals as an advertised means of cure? Who would reap gains from educating the people on the reversal of health through natural substances such as raw milk? Who benefits from asking such questions, wisely, openly, earnestly, and with a compassionate view? We can be honest.

    Cows raised in confinement, injected with an endless array of antibiotics, laden with hormones and fed absolutely unnatural diets might lead one to assume that perhaps the milk coming from such a living creature would not be very safe for consumption. But certainly the aforementioned scheme is the method used to produce milk on a mass-scale. This is certain, is it not? The profits involved with sales of agro-chemicals, hormones, antibiotics are reaped heavily for the corporations that can indulge the assumed necessity of raising animals in this fashion. And it is at this stage we see pasteurization, homogenization, and irradiation setting up shop.

    Could you imagine the tragedy involved with consumption of these denatured, destroyed and ultimately diseased foods in their raw state?

    Yet it seems even with this ‘sweep it under the rug, worry about it later’ approach we still run into a gamut of problems and consequences. Who would of thought?

    Who is to blame? The only answer that can truly be assumed is that I am. We’re all in this together.

  85. TribalDruid says:

    The majority of the limited number of raw milk outbreaks (many unconfirmed) stemmed from commercial dairy industries. I don’t include them here. I do however include a few links showing the harmful track record of pasteurization:









    If individual human-beings are unable to look deeply into the nature of their own mundane daily life-situation and contemplatively seek the truth of their own nature without distraction, than why ever would we assume a collective harmony? We look at pixels amid a grand-interconnected interrelated flow of interactions that produce results which we then attempt to freeze and assume for truth, as though what we were seeing was somehow static, something separate. It seems that mindfulness is key.

    Enjoy yourselves.