In its Aug. 27 newsletter, NMC (formerly the National Mastitis Council) highlights the issue of raw milk. Few food safety issues have had such a long history and intensity as the debate over the question: "Milk, to pasteurize or not to pasteurize?" it reports.
The pros and cons of pasteurization have been debated since 1908 when Chicago required the pasteurization of all milk unless it came from tuberculin-tested cows. Recently, the debate has resurfaced, with several states examining their requirements related to the direct sale of raw milk to consumers.
NMC reports that earlier this year, the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), in collaboration with the Raw Milk Subcommittee of the Dairy Quality and Safety PDG, organized a session devoted to "Raw Milk Consumption: An Emerging Public Health Threat?" which was held in Arlington, Virginia. An excellent summary of the session from Food Protection Trends, June 2009, can be found here.
The NMC Research Committee, at the request of the NMC Board of Directors, is currently developing a proposed position statement on the consumption of raw milk. The document will go back to the Board for further review.
Raw milk consumption continues to be an issue with people who believe it has superior qualities over pasteurized milk and are willing to risk ingesting harmful pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella.
The soon-to-be-published September 2009 Bovine Veterinarian contains an article about the dangers of raw milk, and an excellent chart that examines any differences in milk components between pasteurized and raw milk. The article will be posted soon on www.bovinevetonline.com.
Geni Wren, Editor
Bovine Veterinarian Magazine