Is Raw Milk Safe?

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Skimming the cream from raw milk
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Over the past three years, the popularity of unpasteurized milk – or raw milk, as it’s sometimes called – has grown across the country. Advocates say heat-treating milk destroys enzymes and nutrients, while detractors say it's necessary to keep people from getting sick. Battles over how milk is sold and regulated have exploded. 

Ten states, including Maine, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, have made it legal to sell unpasteurized milk in stores. Meanwhile, other states are fighting to make it easier to purchase. In Wisconsin, Governor Jim Doyle indicated last month that he’ll sign a bill – already passed by the senate and assembly - legalizing and regulating the sale of raw milk between farmers and consumers. In Massachusetts, raw milk supporters this week protested the fact that they ONLY have this right. They’d like to be able to buy milk from more places than the state’s 27 regulated farms. And in many states like New Jersey, raw milk supporters secretly run unpasteurized milk across state lines.

If you’re not part of the milk wars, you might be wondering: Why are people fighting so hard to drink milk that’s not pasteurized? And is it safe?

David Gumpert is the author of The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights. He says that, under the right circumstances, raw milk is safe. And Bill Marler is an attorney who represents foodborne illness victims. He’s also the editor of realrawmilkfacts.com. He says that raw milk can be extremely risky to people’s health.