CDC study finds more food-borne illness outbreaks caused by raw milk

USA Today reports on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, which found that “unpasteurized milk, touted as the ultimate health food by some, is 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness outbreaks than pasteurized milk and such outbreaks had a hospitalization rate 13 times higher than those involving pasteurized dairy products.”

The paper’s senior author and deputy director of enteric diseases at CDC, Barbara Mahon, remarked, “When you consider that no more than 1% of the milk consumed in the United States is raw, it’s pretty startling to see that more of the outbreaks were caused by raw milk than pasteurized.”

The study was “published in this month’s edition of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases,” and is said to be “one of the largest done to date.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the study “reviewed dairy-product disease outbreaks from 1993 to 2006 in all 50 states,” concluding “that milk consumption was responsible for 121 disease outbreaks, causing 4,413 illnesses, 239 hospitalizations and three deaths.”

In addition, the study showed “that the raw-milk product outbreaks led to much more severe illnesses and disproportionally affected people under age 20.”

Bloomberg News quotes Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, who said, “Restricting the sale of raw milk products is likely to reduce the number of outbreaks and can help keep people healthier.”

Notably, “the US Food and Drug Administration banned the interstate sale of raw milk in 1987 and has investigated farmers and co-op owners who provide raw milk products.”

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