A new report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that raw milk and cheese products cause 96 percent of foodborne illnesses linked to contaminated dairy products. This means that these unpasteurized products cause 840 times more illnesses and 45 times more hospitalizations than pasteurized dairy products.
Researchers used publicly available outbreak data to look at the correlation between the consumption of raw milk and cheese and bacterial illnesses such as Shiga toxin–producing E. coli, Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter spp. Most of the U.S. illnesses analyzed were linked to Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp.
Proponents of raw milk consumption rave about its positive health effects, pointing out that leafy green vegetables actually cause more foodborne illnesses than dairy products. However, just this year, at least two deaths have been attributed to the raw dairy products produced by New York-based Vulto Creamery.
The authors of the CDC study believe that if the consumption of raw dairy products continues to grow, so will the rate of foodborne illness.
The agency’s official study--Outbreak-Related Disease Burden Associated with Consumption of Unpasteurized Cow’s Milk and Cheese, United States, 2009–2014--can be found in the June 2017 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a CDC publication.
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