What foods get pasteurized

What are the risks associated with drinking raw milk?

Raw milk is milk from any animal that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. While it is possible to get foodborne illnesses from many different foods, raw milk is one of the riskiest of all.

Some people who chose raw milk thinking they would improve their health instead found themselves (or their loved ones) sick in a hospital for several weeks due to infections caused by germs in raw milk. Getting sick from raw milk can mean many days of diarrhea, stomach cramping, and vomiting. Some people who drank raw milk have developed severe or even life-threatening diseases, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis, and hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death.

Here are some things you should know:

  • Illness can occur from the same brand and source of raw milk that people had been drinking for a long time without becoming ill.
  • A wide variety of germs that are sometimes found in raw milk can make people sick. These germs include Brucella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coliListeria, and Salmonella.
  • Each ill person’s symptoms can differ depending on the type of germ, the amount of contamination, and the person’s immune defenses.
Who is at greatest risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk?

The risk of getting sick from drinking contaminated raw milk is greater for infants and young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer, an organ transplant, or HIV, than it is for healthy older children and adults. But healthy people of any age can get very sick or even die if they drink raw milk contaminated with harmful germs.

Can drinking raw milk hurt me or my family?

Yes. Raw milk can cause serious illnesses. Raw milk and raw milk products, including soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, can be contaminated with harmful bacteria and other germs that can cause serious illness, hospitalization, or death. These harmful germs include Brucella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.

From 1993 through 2012, 127 outbreaks reported to CDC were linked to raw milk. These outbreaks included 1,909 illnesses and 144 hospitalizations. Most of the outbreaks were caused by Campylobacter, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or Salmonella. A large number of raw milk outbreaks involve children. At least one child younger than 5 was involved in 59% of the raw milk outbreaks reported to CDC from 2007 through 2012. Children aged 1 to 4 years accounted for 38% of Salmonella illnesses in these outbreaks and 28% of illnesses caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, which can cause kidney failure and death.

Reported outbreaks represent the tip of the iceberg. Most illnesses are not a part of recognized outbreak, and for every outbreak and every illness reported, many others occur.