Date PostedJanuary 23, 2013

Food Safety News: Beware When Drinking Raw Milk

Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.

An outbreak in Missouri in The United States has caused several people to become sick with diarrhoea over an E.Coli 0103 contamination. The Missouri Department of Health issued a public health alert recently over the outbreak which was blamed on the consumption of locally produced “raw milk and other unpasteurized products”.

Authorities urged anyone with symptoms such as severe stomach cramps, diarrhoea, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting to seek medical attention immediately. There may also be some cases with a fever, but usually not a very high one. The infection symptoms usually last for 5-7 days. Some patients may develop haemolytic uremic syndrome due to the diarrhoea.

Read what authorities had to say on an alert issued on

missourihealthlogo_406x250-300x184Acute renal damage, microangiopathichemolyticanemia, and thrombocytopenia are the “triad of findings” that DHSS says add up to HUS. The Missouri health alert continues with advice for those making clinical decisions. It cautions that the use of antibiotics in patients with suspected STEC infections is not recommended until complete diagnostic testing can be performed and STEC infection is ruled out.

It says some studies have found that administering antibiotics in patients with STEC infections might increase their risk of developing HUS. If a patient has severe intestinal inflammation and perforation is a concern, antibiotic use may be warranted.

The Missouri public health alert includes specific instructions for medical personnel submitting patient stool samples that will be cultured to STEC O157:H7 and simultaneously assayed for non-O157 Shiga toxins. The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory is conducting the tests.

Because pasteurization heats milk and kills the germs, unpasteurized milk can be dangerous. Although some people believe unpasteurized milk is simply healthier that unpasteurized milk, studies have proven that the beneficial nutrients in milk are not affected by the pasteurization process.

Raw milk and other raw dairy products can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick. Cows and other dairy animals can carry many different types of bacteria that can cause illness in people and because these animals do not demonstrate symptoms of being sick, we are unaware that they are infected and carry bacteria. This bacterium can be carried in the milk of the animal and pasteurization is the only process that can ensure these bacteria are killed before they can cause harm to humans.

So be careful when drinking raw milk and raw milk products like certain cheeses, especially from farm stalls, unfortunately because milk, whether pasteurized or unpasteurized, smells and tastes the same, this is difficult to figure out.


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