United States raw milk debate
- Main article: Raw milk
- 1 Background
- 2 The debate
- 3 References
- 4 External links
Commercial distribution of packaged raw milk is prohibited in most countries. However, 28 US states allow sales of raw milk, and in other parts of the world, raw milk can often be bought directly from the farmer. In England, about 200 producers sell raw, or "green top" milk direct to consumers, either at the farm or through a delivery service. Raw milk is sometimes distributed through a share program, wherein the consumer owns a share in the dairy animal or the herd, and can be considered to be consuming milk from their own animal. In the United States, Arizona, California, and Washington allow raw milk sales in retail stores with appropriate warning labelling.
Despite warnings by public health officials, some people advocate consumption of raw milk products. Proponents say that beneficial components of milk are destroyed by pasteurization, specifically immunoglobulins and the enzymes lipase and phosphatase, which are inactivated by heat. Raw milk contains vitamin B6, but the heat treatment may cause as much as 20% of the vitamin to be lost. Pasteurization also kills some of milk's naturally-occurring bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, useful for the culturing of yogurt. Raw milk proponents point out that these "friendly" bacteria aid digestion and boost immunity.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300 people in the United States got sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk in 2001, and nearly 200 became ill from these products in 2002. "Drinking raw milk or eating raw milk products is like playing Russian roulette with your health," says John Sheehan, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Division of Dairy and Egg Safety. "We see a number of cases of food-borne illness every year related to the consumption of raw milk." 
Milk collected or stored in unsanitary conditions may harbor a host of disease-causing organisms (pathogens), such as the bacteria Campylobacter (Campylobacteriosis), Escherichia(E. coli O157:H7), Listeria (Listeriosis), Salmonella (Salmonellosis), Yersinia (Yersinia enterocolitica), and Brucella (Brucellosis). Pasteurization consistently removes all of these pathogens, though they can be reintroduced if the product is handled carelessly. Common symptoms of food-borne illness from many of these types of bacteria include diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headache, vomiting, and exhaustion. Healthy adults typically recover from such food-borne illness within a short period of time, but others may have symptoms that are chronic, severe, or life-threatening.
People with weakened immune systems, such as elderly people, children, and those with certain diseases or conditions, are most at risk for severe infections from pathogens that can contaminate raw milk. In pregnant women, Listeria monocytogenes-caused illness can result in miscarriage, fetal death, or illness or death of a newborn infant, and Escherichia coli (E.Coli) infection has been linked to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition that can cause kidney failure and death.
In late 2007, the debate received media attention in California, where limits on the bacterial counts legally allowed in commercial raw milk have come up for legislative review.  The news agency Reuters named the raw milk debate as first on a list of the top eight health issues of 2008 . In November, 2007, United States Congressman Ron Paul introduced a bill (HR 4077) to legalize interstate transportation of raw milk 
Arguments of pasteurization supporters
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cite numerous cases of serious or fatal infections caused by raw milk, with E. coli O157:H7 being the most important because it can cause the hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a life-threatening condition.  In a CDC report, numerous cases were traced to raw milk from a cow-share program in Cowlitz County, Washington. After five children were hospitalized, a court order was issued to bring the farm into compliance. 
A review of infections associated with raw milk contends that pasteurized milk is just as nutritious as raw milk, so that there is neither a scientific nor an aesthetic reason for choosing raw milk products. 
Arguments of raw milk supporters
Advocates of drinking raw milk name various health benefits they attribute to raw milk that are lost in the pasteurization process, and claim that raw milk can be produced as hygienically as pasteurized milk.  
Cheesemakers hold that cheeses produced from raw milk have distinctive complexity and depth of flavor absent from pasteurized-milk cheeses. Ultrapasteurized and UHT-treated milk is nearly impossible to use for cheesemaking.
A slide by slide rebuttal to the FDA powerpoint presentation, shows that of 15 outbreaks cited by the FDA, not a single one demonstrates that pasteurization would have fixed the problem, that 93% lacked either a valid statistical correlation with raw milk or a positive sample, and half lacked both. Even with the FDA's highly biased numbers[neutrality disputed], raw milk would not be any more dangerous than deli meats.
- ^ FDA Document - "Got Milk? Make Sure it's Pasteurized"
- ^ "Bid in Assembly to repeal tough new raw milk standard", San Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 2008
- ^ http://features.us.reuters.com/wellbeing/news/084EE9CE-AF54-11DC-BE9B-FC980DA5.html "Top Health Issues of 2008," December 20, 2007]
- ^ Free Trade in Unpasteurized Milk by Ron Paul
- ^ A Stitch in Haste Another Quick Example of How Ron Paul is Not a Libertarian
- ^ CDC on fatal infections from raw milk
- ^ CDC Court Order to cow-share program
- ^ Study on nutrition of pasturized milk vs. raw milk
- ^ Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products: Safety, Health, Economic, and Legal Issues.
- ^ The Health Benefits of Raw Milk.
- ^ Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, 117(6):1374-81 (June 2006)
- ^ Clinical Experimental Allergy, Volume 37, Issue 5, pages 627-630 (May 2007)
- ^ Raw Milk Cheesemakers’ Association. American Raw Milk Cheese Presidium Mission & Protocol.
- ^ Jim Wallace. All About Milk. New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.
The public debate
Warnings about raw milk
- British Columbia Ministry of Health: Raw Milk - A Risk to Public Health
- U.S. FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition: Position statement on sale/consumption of raw milk
- CDC: Highly increased risk of contracting salmonella dublin infection from raw milk
- University of Guelph Food Safety Network: Summary of raw milk disease outbreaks
- Why Raw Milk Should Be Avoided - Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Promoters of raw milk
- Campaign for Real Milk by The Weston A. Price Foundation
- Real Milk For Me! (Informational & activist links for raw milk enthusiasts)
- Here on Earth: Radio interview with Sally Fallon and Dr. Ron Schmid on the benefits and politics of raw milk