News / USA

Unpasteurized Milk Gains Support Despite Risks

A woman enjoys a cup of raw unpasteurized milk
A woman enjoys a cup of raw unpasteurized milk


Health authorities in Germany blame bean, alfalfa and other raw sprouts for the unprecedented outbreak of E. coli bacteria poisonings that are blamed for the deaths of 36 people and illness to 3,000 others. Sprouts can be difficult to grow safely, and raw sprouts have been linked to a number of disease outbreaks over the years. In the United States, another risky food is gaining in popularity - raw milk.

It is late afternoon at Hedgebrook Farm, about an hour and a half from Washington, and the cows are heading for the milking parlor.

Hedgebrook is one of the few places in the area where you can get raw, unpasteurized milk straight from the cow.

Customer Anna Elrod says at first, she bought it for her son’s health. “My son’s eczema cleared up completely, he never had another ear infection and the milk tastes so much better that I’ll never go back to store milk. Never,” she said.

Raw milk has a devoted following, a fact that baffles food safety advocate Sarah Klein at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “There are absolutely no scientifically proven benefits to drinking raw milk, and there are well-documented risks,” Klein said.

Such as E. coli, salmonella and other bacterial diseases that milk can carry. Pasteurized milk is heated to temperatures that reduce the number of germs, then cooled and bottled. Raw milk drinkers say it also kills the good things in milk. But Klein says it's not worth the risk.

“We went from 25 percent of our food and waterborne outbreaks being linked to dairy products to under 1 percent with the advent of pasteurization,” she said.

For that reason, it is illegal in many states to sell unpasteurized milk.

But a recent crackdown on a farmer carrying raw milk across state lines drew demonstrators to Washington this spring.

They even brought a cow and milked it on the spot. And drank the raw milk in protest.

Some have found a way around the ban on buying raw milk. They share a cow. Anna Elrod explains. “I’m not buying milk. I’m buying part of a cow. I own that cow,” Elrod said.

Hedgebrook Farm sells 25 shares of each cow, providing each part owner with about four liters of milk a week.  

Kitty Hockman-Nicholas and her family own Hedgebrook. She says the farm's raw milk is perfectly safe. “Pasteurization started out because there was a need, because of the uncleanliness that we had in the 1700s. But now, all that has changed,” she said.

Hockman-Nicholas says methods have improved since then. She says her dairy is inspected regularly and receives high marks.

But many health experts say bad things sometimes happen even at good dairies, and contamination from dirt, manure and insects can easily find its way into raw milk. Again, food safety advocate Sarah Klein.

“The United States has enjoyed safe milk for many decades now, and unfortunately many consumers are turning back to a time when milk wasn’t a safe product to drink. It’s ironic,” Klein said.

But raw milk’s backers say they will continue to fight for the right to drink milk straight from the cow.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs