Is Raw Milk Safe?

What are the risks of drinking unpasteurized milk?

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #111

Is Raw Milk Safe?

Virtually all of the milk that you buy in grocery stores has been pasteurized—heat-treated to kill micro-organisms that might make you sick. In the history of infectious disease, the introduction of pasteurization in the early 20th century was seen as a huge advance for public health and safety. Lately, however, a lot of people are saying that raw, unpasteurized milk might actually be better for you—and taste a lot better, too. But depending on where you live, you might have a hard time buying raw milk.

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Where Can You Find Raw Milk?

Federal and state regulations currently prohibit the sale of raw milk in many states and across state borders, citing concerns about public safety.  That is causing an enormous amount of frustration among proponents of raw milk—and I can understand why. It doesn’t seem entirely fair. After all, I can buy raw eggs, meat, and fish—all of which might harbor the same micro-organisms.  Assuming you understand the risks, I think you should be free to buy and consume raw milk, just like I’m free to order my eggs sunny-side up or my steak medium-rare.

The Raw Milk Debate

This debate has really heated up in the last couple of years. And unfortunately, as is so often the case, the more heated a debate gets, the more misinformation it seems to generate. A lot of what I’ve seen about raw milk tends to under-state the risks and over-state the benefits. So, while I support the end of raw milk prohibition, I’d also like to take a more dispassionate look at the pros and cons of raw milk so that you can make a rational decision.

Because this is a big topic and I want to do it justice, I’m going to tackle it in two parts. In this article, I’ll talk about the risks of raw milk and try to put them in perspective. In part 2, I’ll take a closer look at the purported benefits.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.