Does Raw Milk Make You Sick? We’ll Soon Find Out.

By Melissa McCart

“Wow, that’s pure, concentrated milk,” said my co-worker when I offered her a sipof raw milk. Like me, she’s a 2%-er, so any whole milk is going to be especially, well, milky: even when I poured cream off the top.

It’s delicious, though. I want to cook with it, or add it to a cup of Counter Culture coffee (I know it’s blasphemy to not drink it black).

Not pasteurized or homogenized, raw milk is developing a cult following for its health benefits, which allegedly include decreased risk of osteoporosis and resistance against asthma and other conditions.

Despite that consumption of raw milk is on the rise with over 500,000 people calling themselves frequent consumers in the US, there’s push-back for good reason. Scientists and the US government warn against it for potential contamination with listeria, E.coli, and salmonella.

This debate is quite current. In February, the Centers for the Disease Control published a study that raw milk is significantly more dangerous than pasteurized. And just last month,80 people fell ill due to raw milk contamination in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia.

In Florida, the sale of raw milk is legal for pets only. A staffer at Marando Farms said sales of raw products are brisk.

In particular, raw milk is essential for certain cheeses. “If you have a cow that’s grazing on berries and grass in the Alps, for example,” says Susan Smith, owner of Cheese Culture, “those flavors come through in raw milk. Pasteurization kills those flavors.”

Florida law allows shops to sell raw milk cheeses aged over 90 days, such as Morbier an earthy, French cow’s milk cheese, as well as a Montgomery cloth-bound cheddar from England. “The flavors are just more intense.”

In the EU, all raw milk products are legal. And here’s why: while raw milk might pose health risks, so do frozen berries, Jimmy John’s sandwiches, raw oysters, and ground beef. Is the solution to regulate those more closely too?


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