I'll Take Some Bacteria With my Raw Milk

Raw unpasteurized milk suspected in bacterial infection

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you go to the grocery store and pick up a gallon of milk, it's likely been pasteurized to kill bacteria. But you can still go directly to a farm for a taste of raw milk.

Some say raw milk is healthy, but the problem is that it may contain dangerous germs that pass from the cows into their milk.

Health officials in Massachusetts are investigating if a man was infected with brucellosis, a germ not seen in the area for two decades, after drinking raw milk.

"To avoid bacterial infections, drink pasteurized milk."

Brucellosis is rare in humans. It's an infectious disease that is more typically passed between animals, but humans can become infected if they drink unpasteurized milk or eat cheese made from raw milk.

Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health are investigating a dairy in Western Massachusetts as the possible source of the infection. According to the Berkshire Eagle, the infected man was the owner of the dairy. He said he sells only 22 gallons of raw milk a week, on-site, and the rest is pasteurized.

Public health experts are concerned, because they've worked for two decades to eradicate this type of bacteria from livestock. If the case of brucellosis is confirmed, they will have to figure out if other livestock were exposed.

The Massachusetts brucellosis case comes on the heels of the news that E.coli from a raw milk dairy in California was responsible for infecting five children last year. The dairy sells all raw milk products.

E.coli is an infectious strain of bacteria that's been known to cause death.

Thirty states allow raw milk sales, while twenty states have bans on sales in some form. Raw milk advocates say that unpasteurized milk includes healthy bacteria for humans, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says there are no noticeable nutritional benefits, and it's unsafe to consume.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 24, 2012
Last Updated:
January 26, 2012