Milk and its products are widely used for nutrition. It is an essential part of our diet. A debate has been on about the relative health and safety concerns of raw unpasteurized milk versus its pasteurized form.
Proponents that see raw unpasteurized milk as the only real kind argue that pasteurized commercially available milk is from cows fed on growth hormones and antibiotics, making its safety for human consumption suspect. They say that pasteurization destroys enzymes and beneficial bacteria and decreases vitamin content, making it unfit for human health.
On the other hand, many people now recommend avoiding unpasteurized milk for the sake of avoiding health issues caused by contamination. Raw milk’s safety concern stems from it being a good media for contamination of microorganisms, which can endanger health and safety. This health and safety concern spans all cattle such as cows, sheep, goats, buffaloes, or any other milk-producing animal. However, people in many countries continue to consume raw milk.
Many bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria can grow in raw milk. Thus, raw milk is a source of many food-borne diseases like typhoid, listeriosis, brucellosis, tuberculosis, and dysentery. This makes its safety for human health suspect. To deal with this health concern, unpasteurized raw milk is first boiled at a high temperature for a few seconds and then rapidly cooled. This procedure kills the pathogens and makes the previously unpasteurized milk fit for consumption.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a 12-year analysis on safety concerns of unpasteurized raw milk and found that 1,500 people in the U.S. faced health issues related to the consumption of raw unpasteurized milk and cheese made from it. According to the CDC, raw unpasteurized milk is 15 times more likely to be responsible for food-borne diseases than pasteurized milk. It is important to keep pasteurized milk in the refrigerator, as pasteurization alone does not guarantee safety from contamination over time.
Some people believe that apart from avoiding contamination, the added health benefits of pasteurization are that, unlike its unpasteurized raw form, it does not cause any allergy or intolerance. However, this safety and health benefit is not scientifically proven.
Consuming raw milk may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or headaches. People with weaker immunity or children and the elderly are likely to face these adverse health effects, as they cannot withstand the growth of microorganisms in their gut. People alert about their family’s health and safety should avoid consuming unpasteurized milk.
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