Dangers of dairy: What you need to know about raw milk

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Consuming raw food has emerged as a popular detox and diet trend, but is it really safe...

Consuming raw food has emerged as a popular detox and diet trend, but is it really safe to consume raw dairy? Proponents of the trend claim raw food speeds weight loss and increases energy while clearing up skin problems and reducing the risk of some diseases. This is based on the idea that cooking food reduces it's nutritional value. With milk, that means you are potentially consuming unpasteurized goods.

Raw equals unpasteurized

Raw milk is simply milk that has not been pasteurized. The lack of pasteurization is what makes raw milk dangerous. Harmful organisms normally die during pasteurization, which is when milk is heated to kill disease carrying organisms such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria. Without pasteurization, these microorganisms are still potentially swimming in your milk and suspended in thicker dairy products such as cheese.

Avoiding the risks

Whether you believe in the value of a raw food diet or have doubts, the importance of food safety cannot be stressed enough when it comes to your family's health.

  • Check the label on all milk-based products before buying. Look for the word pasteurized. If you do not see it, you cannot count on the contents of the container having been pasteurized.

  • Ask the vendor if the milk or milk-based item has been pasteurized. If you cannot confirm the safety of the product, it is best to pass on buying the item.

  • Try a hard cheese such as cheddar or an extra hard cheese such as Parmesan if you really want to try a raw milk product. For all the other cheeses, make sure the label indicates pasteurization.

  • Apply some heat if you end up with a raw milk product or if you have doubts about the pasteurization of a product you already have. According to the CDC, raw milk needs to be heated to at least 161 degrees for a minimum of 20 seconds to be safe.

  • Keep it cold. While heating kills bacteria in milk, even pasteurized milk needs to be kept cold to be safe.

Whether you are considering a raw food detox or a raw food diet and want more information, or you simply want to protect your family from the dangers of raw milk, it is a good idea to discuss concerns about raw milk with your local Atlanta physician.

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