Raw Food Risks We’ve Already Accepted

Raw oysters eaten especially during May through November in Florida when water temperatures are high can cause a big health problem. A bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus grows rampantly in the Gulf Coast during this time. The result if you eat the raw oysters could be nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Also, your skin can blister badly for no reason at all other than the bacterial infection.

Raw oysters also contain the Noro virus, which has all of the previously mentioned symptoms except for the skin blistering.

Sushi, or raw fish, brings with it the chance – and some say probability – that you’ll end up with a parasite such as the fish tapeworm or even worse parasitic infections. Cooking destroys the parasites. Don’t believe the connection between parasites and tapeworm? Check out this UK news story about a Chinese man that developed a massive tapeworm infection and you’ll see it’s true: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2768117/Sushi-lover-s-entire-b...

Steak tartare is raw ground beef. Beef carries the E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria that creates a toxin that enters the bloodstream. From here it will destroy red blood cells in high numbers. This then causes an overload of work for the kidney, which can fail as a result. Thus, you are risking your life by eating steak tartare. Even people with less severe cases of E. coli infection often are hospitalized for a few weeks in the Intensive Care Unit.

But what about raw milk? Shouldn’t it be okay. After all, milk is something that has been consumed since the beginning of time – long before pasteurization came on the scene. The culprits for the raw milk illnesses were found to be E. coli 0157: H7, Staph aureus, Brucella, tuberculosis, Listeria, Yersinia and Campylobacter jejuni.

How Many People Get Sick From Raw Milk Now?

The facts are that up to 10 million people drink raw milk in the U.S. right now, but there were only 100-150 cases of people who became sick enough from the raw milk each year, and only two recorded deaths since 1998 according to one source. Statistics from the CDC between 1999 and 2005 showed 39 outbreaks in which unpasteurized milk or cheese from unpasteurized milk occurred in 22 states with 831 illnesses, 66 hospitalizations and one death .

How Pasteurization Came About

At the end of the 1800s and the beginning of 1900s hygiene in general was not as understood as it is now. Water sources were still regularly contaminated by animal/human feces. Running water, toilets, bathtubs and showers were not in every household. Washing your hands and face a few times a day was certainly not a regular practice.

One important tool the farmers didn’t have in 1910 is refrigeration. Ice cubes covered with hay were the way foods stayed cold and ice boxes were far from adequate. People started migrating from rural areas to cities as well, and milk had to be transported without refrigeration. It was delivered to doorsteps and placed in a metal box called the milk box. August and September were the worst months of the year for epidemics of polio and fevers to occur. With the lack of strict sanitation, testing and refrigeration, the advent of pasteurization was more easily accepted.

Since the 1920s, there have been laws to pasteurize milk and prohibit the sale of raw milk in most states. Why?

In those days the members of local, state and federal governments knew of the great nutritional value of cow’s milk for humans. But people were getting sick, sometimes gravely sick from drinking contaminated milk. People also got sick from water contamination back then.

With large epidemics occurring from time to time, something had to be done. First they introduced sanitation guidelines.

A walk in a cattle field is like walking a minefield, there is dung waiting to get you at every other step. Cows walk and may even roll in the dung so when they arrive for milking they are not pristine. Being milked by hand or machine makes no difference if there is no sanitation. In order to solve a problem of this magnitude, pasteurization was put into law. This was, at the time the only logical solution to save lives.

Raw Milk Still Not Legal in All 50 States

Today raw milk sales are legal in only a few states, under strict rules. Some states completely deny its sale. The sanitation problems in the 1900s dairies still exist to some degree today in large industrial farms where profit is more important than quality. The testing guidelines are not as strict as they would be if they were producing raw milk.

In 1980, I visited the Alta Dena dairy farm in California, the largest dairy farm in America at the time. I was very impressed by the cleanliness, sanitation, stringent testing and rules they followed to ensure raw milk was safe to consume. I read their research as well as European research papers on raw milk and decided to consume it. I raised my kids on raw milk; they are beautiful, tall, strong and have never been sick from it.

Are Both Sides of the Issues Listening to Each Other?

From the research I recently read, there is still a battle between advocates of pasteurized milk against raw milk advocates. I understand both positions. Pasteurization saves lives, yet raw milk is ideal and decreases the chance of the child experiencing allergies.

In present times, we have more technology to ensure raw milk is safe to consume. So why not revise the laws? We have all we need to make raw milk a safe food.

Just as I mentioned in the beginning of this article there are risks to consuming any type of raw food. The choice should be ours.

If you look at the 40-year history of attacks against Alta Dena Dairy and other raw milk producers in California, you have to wonder what the real reasons behind those attacks are. Is it really safety? If we follow the money, would it lead us to food irradiation of all raw food? That would be a lot of money invested in the elimination of dairies that provide raw milk.

The correct role of any public health authority is to assist producers in making the best and safest product, whether it’s poultry, beef, produce or any foodstuff. This way you can get all the health benefits of raw milk, such as the healthy digestive flora that can help your gut and immune system, with minimal risk.

If any contamination occurs beyond what is considered safe then the authority takes action to protect the public. State health departments should oversee raw dairy foods in the same manner of that of other food products.

What You Can Do to Insure Your Raw Milk is Healthy

If you are inclined to consume raw milk, make sure you meet the farmer personally and visit his establishment. Ask pertinent questions about sanitation, the care of his herd, the bacterial testing done and its frequency. Visit the store and bottling area. Small farmers know their cows by name, they know their temperament; they speak affectionately of them. They also know right away when one of them is not feeling well. They usually will discard the milk from a cow that seems unwell. They also take great care in having their cows eat a varied diet by changing their eating areas during the day.

The farmers also understand they are under scrutiny. If ever a customer would get sick from consuming their milk it would destroy them. The media would jump on the occasion to create panic, hurting the whole industry and preventing access to such a great food.

In general, if they produce raw milk, they understand proper farming and they care. If raw milk consumers claim that problems never exist, it’s a situation of avoiding reality. But on the other hand, for health departments to ignore all the evidence on the benefits of raw milk and the desire by so many people to consuming it, this is downright wrong.

One hundred years ago people were dying from consuming infected non-refrigerated milk. Pasteurization saved lives. Now with all the science of the last hundred years on our side to produce safe raw milk why continue to deny this choice to most Americans? If you still want pasteurized milk, go for it. But we should still offer the right to consume raw milk. Why not offer the same protection we get when we eat any other high-risk food such as poultry, meat, fish, raw oysters, sushi, salmon tartare, steak tartare, and raw honey?



Author's Bio: 

Angelina is an online entrepreneur. She writes about home improvement, health h& fitness and sports. She has contributed to Buzzfeed, Onmogul, Wn etc in her portfolio.