Consumers want “natural” foods, and in response, food processors are removing artificial colors and flavors. A related consumer interest in clean labels has food companies reducing the number of ingredients in their recipes and/or removing ingredients with “chemical-sounding” names. The raw foods movement rejects processing of any type, and advocates are pushing for legalized sales of raw milk.

The dairy processing industry, for the most part, does not favor raw milk sales. In addition, federal government and many state health agencies discourage consumption, saying consumers receive no extra benefit from drinking raw milk compared to pasteurized milk.

The scientific journal Nutrition Today asked Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research director and UW-Madison Food Science professor John Lucey to review some of the popularly suggested health benefits that are being made by some members of the public and media regarding the benefits of raw milk consumption. Lucey is also writes The Cheese Doctor column for Dairy Foods.

Lucey reviewed more than 50 scientific articles related to this topic, and also read various websites from groups that advocate for raw milk consumption.

Raw milk does not provide health benefits like improved nutrition, lactose intolerance or better digestion

In his peer-reviewed article, published in the July/August edition of Nutrition Today, Lucey found that there is no convincing evidence to suggest that the consumption of raw milk provides any health benefits related to improved nutrition, lactose intolerance or better digestion.

The article, “Raw Milk Consumption: Risks and Benefits,” points out that raw milk, because of how/where it is produced, is not inherently safe and carries a significant and well-documented food poisoning risk. Even milk from healthy cows can contain pathogens due to possible contamination during milking or storage. Pasteurization destroys these harmful bacteria and is widely considered a major step forward in improving public health.

Raw milk routinely contains pathogens that cause serious illness even death

According to Lucey “the increase in the popularity of raw milk consumption is a significant concern because surveys of raw milk have shown that it routinely contains human pathogens which cause serious illness every year and even death in some cases. Popular claims about its health benefits are unsubstantiated myths. Pasteurized milk has an excellent safety record and provides wonderful nutrition.”
Read “Raw Milk Consumption: Risks and Benefits” in full at the Nutrition Today website.