Joe Mercola’s website has always been a “target-rich environment” for quack hunters. His rants against vaccines, his incorrect flu information, his support of homeopathy, and just about everything else at his website comes free of evidence and full of unfounded assertions (as well as some seriously side-splitting giggles).
But his latest post up at—where else?—the Huffington Post is patently dangerous. It is entitled, “Why You Shouldn’t Drink Pasteurized Milk”. If he had gone into the high caloric content of milk, the possible uses of alternative sources of calcium and other nutrients derived from milk, etc., it might have been an interesting piece. But instead it is a plea to drink “raw” (unpasteurized) milk. To those of you who already do this, I apologize for my next statement; it’s aimed not at you but at professionals who should know better:
WHAT A FEROCIOUSLY STUPID IDEA!
Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a temperature that kills most of the pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria. And milk, no matter where it comes from, is a great medium for growing pathogenic bacteria. Since pasteurization became common in the U.S., milk-related illnesses have dropped from about 25% of food-borne illnesses to almost none. That’s a good thing. And that was back in the day when the milk came from small family farms, the very places that raw milk enthusiasts say we should get our milk from to avoid illness.
The toll from raw milk
During 1998–2005, a total of 45 outbreaks of foodborne illness were reported to CDC in which unpasteurized milk (or cheese suspected to have been made from unpasteurized milk) was implicated. These outbreaks accounted for 1,007 illnesses, 104 hospitalizations, and two deaths (CDC, unpublished data, 2007). Because not all cases of foodborne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with unpasteurized milk likely is greater.
Here is a brief rundown of what raw milk has done for us in the last few years:
- Pennsylvania, 1994, 29 people sickened by Salmonella, more than half children under 7.
- Pennsylvania, 1983, 57 people sickened by Campylobacter.
- Washington State, 1999, 54 sickened by multi-drug resistant Salmonella from raw milk cheese