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USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine



Is raw milk good for my family?

Unpasteurized milk is the beverage of choice for young calves and kid goats, but choosing it for your family could be a "raw deal," say nutritionists at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. 

There is no scientific evidence that the living organisms in raw goat's or cow's milk make it nutritionally superior to pasteurized milk or can enhance human resistance to disease. But, what is well-documented are the numerous cases of food-borne illness linked to raw milk consumption. 

Milk is a perfect food for growing e. coli, salmonella, listeria, and other bacteria that can and do make milk-loving humans ill.  Even buying raw milk from certified producers is no guarantee it's free from contamination.

Another concern is whether the rabies virus can be transmitted to humans through unpasteurized milk products. Because the answer to this is unknown, Massachusetts health officials have taken the precautionary measure of inoculating any human who recently drank raw milk from cows found to have rabies.

So for safety's sake, stick with pasteurized milk products, which are heated to kill disease-causing organisms, particularly when feeding young children, pregnant women, the chronically ill, and the elderly, who are all at risk for serious food-borne illness.

Also caution children not to consume raw milk when visiting petting zoos or farms on school field trips.

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