Why raw milk should be available and legal to those who wish to drink it does not rely on an argument based on raw milk health benefits, rather the onus is on the government to provide sufficcient data and evidence; including a clear risk analysis, to support their position that raw milk is a 'dangerous food'.
Raw Milk is a natural foodstuff, which as with any other food carries certain risks, but there is a growing body of evidence to support a history of anecdotal but widespread arguments that raw milk is also beneficial. Whilst we acknowledge the concerns of our own Food safety Authority and in our info-links section you can read a wide variety of information from different sources to include their concerns; we also felt it was important to add this section to our site.
Also annotated below, within our article on nutritional benefits of raw milk - but deserving of its own section on this page, is the Report from the First Annual Raw Milk Conference held in Prague in May 2011
A recently published study of over 8,300 children in rural parts of continental Europe found a significant reduction in asthma development of 41% for raw milk drinkers. They were also half as likely to develop hay fever as those who drank shop bought or boiled milk. This research has linked the benefits to whey proteins in the milk which are destroyed in the process of pasteurisation (1).
The first raw milk conference was recently held in Prague. Some of the study results included significant reductions in asthma, atopy and allergies in children who drink raw milk. In most of these studies the children drinking raw milk lived on a farm. The children in the control groups usually lived in rural areas but drank shop bought, pasteurised milk (2).
A small study has shown children who are allergic to shop bought milk and react immediately to its consumption are able to tolerate raw milk without experiencing any adverse affects (2).
You may not have heard of glutathione but it is a potent anti-oxidant manufactured in our bodies which keeps vitamins C and E (also anti-oxidants) in their reduced, active forms. Anti-oxidants are essential to keeping free radicals and other toxins under control and one of the most foundational of these is glutathione. Raw milk is one of the best sources of the amino acids needed to manufacture glutathione; unfortunately these are denatured in the pasteurisation process thus preventing the body from manufacturing it (3).
Another component of raw milk is the enzyme phosphatase which helps our bodies effectively utilise calcium. Studies have shown people who drink raw milk rather than pasteurised are much less likely to succumb to osteoporosis. Pasteurisation destroys this enzyme (4). It is also worth noting that vitamin D is essential for the uptake of calcium by the bones and this is found in the cream (it is a fat soluble vitamin).
In a study on a calf fed raw verses a calf fed pasteurised milk, the calf fed pasteurised milk developed slower, was less alert and its organs at autopsy were very different to the calf fed raw milk (5).
A recent US government report has shown that the risk of illness from raw milk consumption is very small compared to other foods. Of the estimated 9.4 million raw milk drinkers in the US (a conservative figure), on average only 42 illnesses per year are linked to raw milk. In fact the research has shown US citizens are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other food than raw milk (6).
In Europe, only 1.5% of all food-related outbreaks in the EU are caused by consumption of milk and dairy products, this includes all forms of dairy, milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream etc both pasteurised and unpasteurised (2).
Heating destroys the water soluble vitamins contained in milk including the B vitamins and vitamin C.
Pasteurisation destroys enzymes, beneficial bacteria and denatures proteins making them more likely to cause allergies or food intolerances. One of the beneficial bacteria that is destroyed during pasteurisation is Lactobacillus (lacto=milk, bacillus=rod shaped bacteria). This bacterium is responsible for the breakdown of the milk sugar lactose into lactic acid in our digestive tract. Contrary to what some people believe the enzyme lactase is not present in milk, if it was it would break down lactose before it was consumed (the lactose free milk now seen in some supermarkets has had lactase added to the milk and therefore no lactose).
Research conducted on raw milk has shown its ability to kill off pathogenic bacteria time and again, in different studies various strains of Campylobacter, Listeria, E-coli etc were injected into raw milk in massive quantities. Each time there was a dramatic reduction or total elimination of the pathogen. It is worth noting that the amounts of pathogens used would never be seen in real life (7)(8).
For further information on this Dr Ted Beals, a retired pathologist from the University of Michigan explains more about these pathogens (9).
Linda de Courcy