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Is Raw Milk Better for You?

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My mother grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and she talks about drinking truly fresh milk, right after milking the cows. The taste, she says, is wonderful and unlike any other milk you can get today. Back then, she wouldn't drink the milk at school because it had been pasteurized and she didn't like the taste.

A renewed debate has started up again about allowing raw milk to be sold commercially. Currently, the sale of raw milk is prohibited in 23 states. The reason? Raw milk is not pasteurized, and safety experts say it is unsafe. The FDA and CDC recommend only pasteurized milk because of the risk of E. coli, listeria, and salmonella in milk. The CDC cites reported illnesses of 1,007 and 2 deaths from raw milk between 1998 and May of 2005.

Proponents of raw milk say the pasteurization of milk kills important enzymes and destroys nutrients. I wasn't sure about these claims so I looked up the National Dairy Council's stance on raw milk. They say in their Raw Milk Fact Sheet that there isn't any "scientific evidence to suggest that there is any meaningful difference in the nutritional value of pasteurized and unpasteurized milk." Also, Vitamin D is not added to raw milk, but it is added to pasteurized milk.

Pasteurization 101

Milk is heated to a temp of at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 15 seconds and then rapidly cooled.

My opinion: If there is not a nutritional difference, I am going to go with the one that has had bad bacteria killed off. Sounds safer to me. Why take the chance?

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Healthy Fats

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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