Drinking Pasteurized Milk is Dangerous

by Ann Marie Michaels on January 9, 2008

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The Associated Press reports:

Dairy Linked to 3 Deaths, Miscarriage

By DENISE LAVOIE – 1 day ago

BOSTON (AP) — At Whittier Farms dairy, the fifth-generation owners brag of the quality of their Holstein cows and still deliver milk right to your door, in glass bottles. Customers like the products because they are a hormone-free taste of old New England.

But health officials now say three elderly men have died and at least one pregnant woman has miscarried since last June after drinking bacteria-contaminated milk from the dairy’s plant in Shrewsbury, about 35 miles west of Boston.

All were infected with listeria, which is extremely rare in pasteurized milk. It is more often found in raw foods, such as uncooked meat and vegetables, and processed foods such as soft cheeses and cold cuts.

The outbreak is believed to be only the third time listeria has ever been linked to pasteurized milk in the United States, said Dr. Alfred DeMaria, state director of communicable disease control.

“We know something is going on; we just don’t know what it is,” DeMaria said. “We just need to find out how the bacteria is getting into the milk.”

Listeria bacteria are often present in manure and are commonly found in soil and water. Pasteurization is supposed to kill listeria.

Sally Fallon compiled a list of U.S. government documented outbreaks of food-borne illness from pasteurized milk for Ted Elkins, Deputy Director for Maryland’s Office of Food Protection and Consumer Health Services.

Here is that list:

1945—1,492 cases for the year in the US
1945—1 outbreak, 300 cases in Phoenix, Arizona.
1945—Several outbreaks, 468 cases of gastroenteritis, 9 deaths, in Great Bend, Kansas
1976—Outbreak of Yersinia enterocolitica in 36 children, 16 of whom had appendectomies, due to pasteurized chocolate milk
1978—1 outbreak, 68 cases in Arizona
1982—over 17,000 cases of Yersinia enterocolitica in Memphis, TN
1982—172 cases, with over 100 hospitalized from a three-Southern-state area.
1983—1 outbreak, 49 cases of Listeriosis in Massachusetts
1984—August, 1 outbreak S. typhimurium, approximately 200 cases, at one plant in Melrose Park, IL
1984—November, 1 outbreak S. typhimurium, at same plant in Melrose Park, IL
1985—March, 1 outbreak, 16,284 confirmed cases, at same plant in Melrose Park, IL
1985—197,000 cases of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella infections from one dairy in California
1985—1,500+ cases, Salmonella culture confirmed, in Northern Illinois
1987—Massive outbreak of over 16,000 culture-confirmed cases of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella typhimurium traced to pasteurized milk in Georgia
1993—2 outbreaks statewide, 28 cases Salmonella infection
1994—3 outbreaks, 105 cases, E. Coli & Listeria in California
1993-1994—outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis in over 200 due to pasteurized ice cream in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin
1995—1 outbreak, 3 cases in California
1995—outbreak of Yersinia enterocolitica in 10 children, 3 hospitalized due to post-pasteurization contamination
1996—2 outbreaks Campylobactor and Salmonella, 48 cases in California
1997—2 outbreaks, 28 cases Salmonella in California

That’s a whole lot of outbreaks from supposedly safe pasteurized milk!

Could it have anything to do with the fact that these animals are kept in confinement and fed a diet of grain that makes them sick?

Studies show that factory-farmed cattle have 300 times more pathogenic bacteria in their digestive tracts than cattle that are allowed to openly graze in pastures.

Peck, John E. “Spinach Crisis Reflects Need For Smaller Farms,” — The Capital Times, A8, October 2, 2006

Now let’s talk about raw milk.

According to the Weston Price Foundation:

Pathogens Can Multiply in Pasteurized Milk and Other Foods but Not in Raw Milk

Campylobacter in chilled raw milk (4o C):
Day 0 = 13,000,000/ml
Day 9 = less than 10/ml (1)

Campylobacter in body temperature raw milk (37o C):

Bovine strains decreased by 100 cells/ml in 48 hrs
Poultry strains decreased by 10,000 cells/ml in 48 hrs (2)

Note that the protective components work more quickly to reduce levels of pathogens in warm milk than in chilled milk.

1. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 1982;44(5):1154-58
2. Mikrobiyolji Bul,1987:21(3):200-5

And yet…

Raw milk is often blamed for causing infection with Listeria Monocytogenes, a deadly food pathogen that can cause severe illness and fetal death, premature birth or neonatal illness and death.

Let’s look at the facts:

In a 2003 USDA/FDA report:

Deli meats caused 515 times more illness from listeria than raw milk
Pasteurized milk caused 29 times more illness from listeria than raw milk

On a PER-SERVING BASIS, deli meats were TEN times more likely to cause illness than raw milk.

FDA: “Raw milk is inherently dangerous and should not be consumed”

Where are the FDA’s charges that deli meats are “inherently dangerous and should not be consumed? Where is the FDA’s exhortation to “everyone charged with protecting the publish health” to “prevent the sale of deli meats to consumers”?

In a response to a Freedom of Information request, the Centers for Disease Control provided data on raw milk outbreaks 1993-2005—a 23-year period.

In this report, CDC listed NO cases of foodborne illness from raw milk caused by listeria during the period.

Let me repeat that:

The CDC listed NO cases of foodborne illness from raw milk caused by listeria for the past 23 years.

Recently the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has suspended sales of several dairies and issued inflammatory press releases, claiming listeria monocytogenes in the milk.

Independent tests have shown NO listeria in the milk and in all cases sales were resumed. There were no illnesses.

Is the PDA trying to falsely build a case that listeria is a problem in raw milk?

Raw Milk Safety in California

Since 1999:

40 million servings of Organic Pastures raw milk, not one reported illness
; in 1,300 tests, no human pathogens ever found in the milk, or even in the manure on the farm.

19 recalls of pasteurized milk products during the same period.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa January 10, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Great post with lots of factual information. You’d convince me if I wasn’t already a believer!


Barb January 22, 2008 at 7:05 AM

I think the problem with the statistics relating to raw milk is the fact that there is a low number of consumers. If the same number of people who drank raw milk drank pasteurized milk, then you would see an increase in illness.


Laura December 10, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Thank you. Yes I believe so.


cheeseslave January 22, 2008 at 7:54 AM

Hmm… I am trying to make sense of this argument.

As I posted above, Organic Pastures has sold 40 million servings with no reported illness.

Do you think 40 million is a small number?


Alisue July 5, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Nope it is not a small number, but then some won’t change their mind for anything..:( sad!


George June 13, 2008 at 1:34 PM

Americans drink more than 250 million servings of milk every day. The dairy industry delivers 40 million servings of milk almost 4 times daily. Over the period in question, Americans have consumed 40 million servings of milk about 20,000 times over and with only 19 recalls.

There are benefits to raw milk, but food safety is not one of them. If you get raw milk, it’s important to get it from a reputable dairy such as Organic Pastures. The cow share programs here in the Northwest haven’t had as good of a safety record and people have gone to the hospital with E-Coli despite the fact that the friendly bacteria in raw milk make it more difficult for the harmful organisms to multiply.


cheeseslave June 20, 2008 at 1:01 PM

I think that’s true with any food — that you have to find a trusted source. Whether it’s raw milk or cheese or spinach or tomatoes or Malto-Meal (which was recently found to be contaminated with salmonella and had to be recalled).


Lee Cullens September 7, 2008 at 6:51 PM

To help others more fully understand the whole milk issue, and why people believe what they do about milk, I’ve completed my most recent journal entry entitled “Is Soda Pop or Milk Healthier?” which can be seen at http://achinook.squarespace.com/

My best to you and yours,
Lee C


cheeseslave September 7, 2008 at 9:18 PM

Thanks for sharing this, Lee.

It’s a great article. I’m going to make a post linking to it.

Ann Marie


Mike Fix January 4, 2010 at 6:51 AM

As an ex Dairyfarmer we allways drank raw milk. Have a look at dairyfarmers chidren. I bet they need less medical attention than the rest of the poulation.
A friend of mine who was working in a large milk processing comany was allowed to collect the drainage of the pasteurising line. This milk was fed to 22 bobby calfs all of which exept two died in a short period of time. Reason presumably the milk was nutritionally defficient and the enzimes necesarry for digestion were destroyed by pasteurisation.
Thanks for your article. Mike Fix


Laura December 10, 2013 at 10:24 AM

so many suppositions. Are they indeed healthier? Childrena re at greater risk frm death from raw milk and raw juices. So I don;t think so. Too much romanticizing. This is a safety issue we need to take it more serious than romantic dreaming of past memories as children seeing farmers. What are we in a storybook?


cheeseslave January 4, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Wow, thanks for sharing that Mike. How sad.

A friend of mine told me her mother grew up on a dairy farm drinking raw milk. All of the kids in that family were free of braces and cavities. They grew up healthy, hardy and strong and to this day are free of most degenerative disease.

Her father grew up in the city on storebought pasteurized milk. All the children on that side of the family had cavities and braces and as adults, all suffer from degenerative diseases.


Laura December 10, 2013 at 10:22 AM

not very scientific. the odds are it was from genes.


JB February 20, 2014 at 12:46 AM

“not very scientific. the odds are it was from genes.”

Ummm, no.

Weston A. Price documented that children who grew up with a traditional diet always had perfect dental arches, no cavities, and a strong jaw line, whilst their siblings raised on a more modern one had a weak jawline and horrendous teeth. You can read his book, Nutrition and physical degeneration, at:



Christine Cronau briefly explains about the correlation between eating grains and crowded dental arches, in this lecture about how vital saturated fats are for us:


Pottenger’s studies (granted, on cats) concluded that each generation on an unnatural diet dramatically impacts the next one’s health and fertility, and that after just 3 generations, reproduction completely halts. This is directly due to the lack of nutrition, NOT genes.



Terry Wahls cured her own multiple sclerosis by changing her diet. Can’t recommend this video enough. Genes, or nutrition? You tell me.



Jason Rivera April 29, 2010 at 3:12 AM

A few workers in our area got Salmonella poisoning. It is a good thing that they did not die and they have fully recovered. ~


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LeahS July 11, 2011 at 9:32 AM

I drink raw milk. But I do think those numbers are skewed. Raw milk makes up a TINY fraction of the milk consumed in the US.


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George from Innovations for Seniors February 4, 2013 at 10:42 AM

We would like your permission to publish your article “Drinking Pasteurized Milk is Dangerous” on our website. We will give you credit and add your link.

George Youket
IFS, Senior Editor


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Laura December 10, 2013 at 10:21 AM

I would disagree that raw milk is safer. I have one anecdotal story which symbolizes a bigger issue that these stats don’t show. The specific illnesses from pasteurized milk may be less severe and easier to get over than the ones from raw milk. This is a hugely important distinction. This may be why us as amateurs often cannot truly compare things. Us then making such a huge decision we influence others possibly to their detriment-a huge responsibility.

The raw milk question came up on a Mama’s website I belong to. Only one woman had first hand knowledge of the question from her own family. She came from a dairy family that drank from their own cows. Several of her family members developed a very serious ailment from it. The kind that takes months to recover from or you never do(this part from memory-may be wrong) All I know is she would never touch it because of this happening. It was a very serious illness.

There is too much romanticizing of folks who own cows who never got sick. Pasteurization is not a conspiracy it is truly important. The reason you see more illness from pasteurized milk is because there is a huge percent more milk pasteurized than not. It is a numbers game.

Let us not be stupid-smart. Smart enough to look into something but too stupid to make a smart choice with the info.


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Don Cossaboom February 16, 2014 at 5:50 PM

to me we play in our food too much.Need to get back to the o natural product.Concerns with milk,i never had any while drinking milk straight from the farmers Storage tank or from the cow and kept cold in the refrigerator.


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