Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Dangers of Raw Milk

Yet another major publication has weighed in against raw milk proponents, sneakily using actual science and scientists to combat beliefs and mysticism. The last time I tackled this issue was in Raw Milk Not For "Anyone, At Any Time, For Any Reason", reporting on an article from Time magazine. This year's version is from U. S. News and World Report, which ran several articles on milk, including Kerry Hannon's Raw Milk Is Gaining Fans, but the Science Says It's Dangerous.

Although the number of raw milk drinkers is tiny, probably not more than 500,000, Hannon noted that "From 1998 to May 2005, raw milk or raw-milk products have been implicated in 45 foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States, accounting for more than 1,000 cases of illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that's probably an understatement, the report notes, since foodborne illnesses often go unrecognized and unreported."

How bad is raw milk?

"It's like playing Russian roulette with your health," says John Sheehan, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Division of Dairy and Egg Safety. The dangers, he says, range from mild food poisoning to life-threatening illness. "One complication that can arise as a result of infection with E. coli O157:H7 is hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause acute renal failure, especially in the very young or the elderly," Sheehan says. "There are absolutely no health benefits from consuming raw milk."

Hannon does a good reporting job on the article, which included quotes from actual medical studies of raw milk's potential benefits.
Indeed, it's only in the case of asthma and allergy that some evidence exists to suggest a possible protective effect. A study published in the June 2006 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology by researchers at the University of London analyzed the diet of 4,767 children in Shropshire, England, and found that those who lived on farms and drank raw milk had significantly fewer symptoms of asthma, hay fever, and eczema. Children who drank raw milk were 40 percent less likely to develop eczema and 10 percent less likely to get hay fever than their peers who didn't drink raw milk. A second European study of nearly 15,000 children published in the May 2007 issue of Clinical and Experimental Allergy found that children who drank raw milk were less likely to have asthma and hay fever. Still, both reports warned that raw milk often harbors pathogens, and neither recommended consumption of raw milk as a preventative measure.

The important point to take away from those statistics is not that raw milk reduces asthma, hay fever, and eczema, because it probably doesn't. The important point is that more exposure to potential allergens while young, which is more likely for kids who grow up on farms, may reduce future sensitivity.

That's a point I foreshadowed a couple of days ago in 4X Food Allergies in Black Male Children, when I quoted Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky, a Brooklyn-based pediatrician and allergy expert, as saying "Some studies have shown that being on a farm has a protective effect against allergies." This is likely one of the studies he meant.

Dirt is better for you than raw milk, in the long run.

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Unknown said...

this is utterly ridiculous regarding raw milk. a number of my holistically conscious friends have been on raw milk, even with raw fresh eggs and honey friend for 10 years and hae never had a problem. They also look great. We are not meant to pasturize!! talk about hard on the body!Many cultures have thrived on raw milk!

Anonymous said...

So, according to these numbers a person has about a .025% chance of any kind of illness from raw milk in aby given year. Scary.....

Anonymous said...

Je vous invite à lire mon témoignage "l'affaire du lactose" et "un scandale médical et social " sur mon site : // ainsi que de nombreux renseignements sur l'intolérance génétique primaire au lactose et ses conséquences graves : la CBGC ( colonisation bactérienne chronique du grèle ) et la malabsorption du fructose