Why you shouldn't drink unpasteurised milk


Thursday, 04 May, 2017


Illnesses and hospitalisations are forecast to rise as consumption of unpasteurised dairy products increases. If such consumption doubles, the mean number of outbreak-related illnesses that occur annually will increase by 96%.

Demand for ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ products is high and growing, with consumers believing that these attributes equate with food safety. While this simply isn’t true, the consumption of unpasteurised milk is giving rise to public health concerns.

Writing in the May issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Solenne Costard, Luis Espejo, Huybert Groenendaal and Francisco J Zagmutt estimated outbreak-related illnesses and hospitalisations caused by the consumption of cow’s milk and cheese contaminated with Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter spp. using a model relying on publicly available outbreak data.

In the US, unpasteurised milk is consumed by only 3.2% of the population, while cheese made with unpasteurised milk is consumed by only 1.6% of the population. Yet these products cause 96% of illnesses resulting from consuming contaminated dairy products.

This means that unpasteurised dairy products are 840 times more likely to cause illness and 45 times more likely to cause hospitalisation than pasteurised products.

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