In spite of looser regulations around the sale of unpasteurized milk, it's still unsafe to drink. That's the message from Stanford pediatric infectious disease expert Yvonne Maldonado, MD, who is quoted in a new story on Today.com about the relaxation of raw-milk regulations in West Virginia and Maine.
In the United States, each state writes its own rules for in-state sales of raw milk, and they vary -- a lot. Until last week, West Virginia required all dairy products sold in the state to be pasteurized, or heated briefly to kill germs. The state's new laws allow for "cow shares," in which individuals can pay to share ownership of a cow in exchange for some of the cow's unpasteurized milk. Maine, meanwhile, is considering relaxing its license regulations on farmers who sell milk directly to consumers. (Other states take different approaches, ranging from entirely banning raw milk sales to allowing it in retail stores.)
Raw-milk aficionados claim that unpasteurized dairy products are safe and have health benefits.
Not so fast, says Maldonado, who was the lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' 2013 policy statement discouraging the consumption of raw milk. In the Today.com story, she explains:
“People want to be more responsible for their sustainable environment and what they are putting into their bodies but they conflate the two issues because natural doesn’t always equal healthy,” says [Maldonado].
... “Our recommendations are evidence-based and there is no scientific evidence that drinking raw milk is better than drinking pasteurized milk and milk products,” says Maldonado, an infectious disease expert and pediatrician at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. “But we do see a very large number of diseases and illnesses from raw milk and raw milk products and the infections can be just horrible,” causing diarrhea, fever, cramps, nausea and vomiting, and some may even become systemic.