My good friend Mary Falk once referred to raw milk as “manna from heaven.” Today’s Wall Street Journal issued this press release: “New Studies Confirm: Raw Milk a Low-Risk Food”. Drawing from a Journal of Food Protection publication, three quantitative microbial risk assessments (QMRAs) demonstrate that unpasteurized milk is a low-risk food, contrary to previous, inappropriately-evidenced claims suggesting a high-risk profile.
Today, even (if not especially) within the dairy industry itself, raw milk is regarded as a dangerous food, whereas cheese is considered to be comparatively safe. That cheese may be safer could take into consideration the fermented nature of cheese with its lower pH level (the more acid environment tending to thwart pathogenic contamination) as well as the salt in cheese – salt being the great preservative that it is. The myths surrounding raw milk abound, which could have something to do with the word “raw.”
The peer-reviewed QMRAs demonstrate a low risk of illness from unpasteurized milk consumption for each of the main pathogens attributed to dairy: Campylobacter, Shiga-toxin inducing E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus. This low risk profile of raw milk is attributed to immunologically-susceptible groups as well as to healthy adults.
Anecdotally, in my two decades as a cheese guy the cheeses crafted from raw milk have enjoyed far longer shelf lives than their compromised milk counterparts.
- Max McCalman