Our weekly news column bringing the most current, non-biased health
information to the consumer.
March 15, 2011
A Publication of QVHD
The Choice is Yours: Raw or Pasteurized?
By: V. Deborah Culligan, RN, MPH,
Deputy Director QVHD
InWe live in an amazing
world, with a wealth of information at our fingertips every day. Because
of this, we are better equipped to investigate the answers to some of our
questions. We are also bombarded with news 24/7, on every topic from
politics to health. As we move into our “go-green” phase, we have become
more suspicious of chemicals we use and consume. This suspicion has
extended itself to the foods that we eat. Sometimes there are justified
concerns about past practices that may not be great for our health. But
other times, we are swayed by incorrect information or beliefs that can
lead to harm.
Some people subscribe heartily to the concept of
“natural” or “organic” foods. For the most part, this is a safe way to eat
(although often more expensive.) However, when it comes to raw dairy
products, this is not the best strategy to apply. Some people believe that
pasteurization of dairy products harms milk and have turned to raw dairy
products. Other persons are concerned about the use of hormones in milk.
If you are one of these persons, you need to know that you are risking
contracting some serious illnesses that pasteurization prevents. Such
diseases include listeriosis, typhoid fever, diphtheria and brucellosis.
The bacteria that cause these diseases are especially dangerous to
pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with weakened immune
Pasteurization is a process that kills harmful
bacteria in milk using heat. It does not affect the
nutritional value of milk. Because the process does not kill all of the
kinds of organisms that can cause spoilage (not disease) you must
refrigerate most real dairy products. An FDA Food Facts article offers the
following facts about milk and the pasteurization process:
- Pasteurizing milk does not cause lactose intolerance and allergic
reactions. Both raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause allergic
reactions in people sensitive to milk proteins.
- Raw milk does not kill dangerous pathogens by itself.
- Pasteurization does not reduce milk's nutritional value.
- Pasteurization does not mean that it is safe to leave milk out of
the refrigerator for extended time, particularly after it has been
- Pasteurization does kill harmful bacteria that cause human
- Pasteurization does save lives.
Health concerns about unpasteurized products go beyond milk. Any
unpasteurized dairy product including soft cheeses, yogurt, pudding and
ice cream, can lead to illness. Organisms that can be present include (but
are not limited to) staphylococcus aureus, campylobacter, salmonella, E.
coli, Listeria, mycobacterium tuberculosis, mycobacterium bovis, brucella
and yersinia. Listeria is of particular concern in women who are pregnant.
This pathogen (germ) can cause miscarriage, fetal death or illness or
death of a newborn. It is very serious. Pregnant women should not consume
unpasteurized dairy products. This includes Mexican-style soft cheese such
as Queso Fresco, Panela, Asadero and Queso Blanco.
In the 10 year
period from 1998 to 2008, there were 1,614 reported illnesses associated
with unpasteurized dairy products. This actual number of illnesses is
likely higher as not all cases of illness get reported. While most persons
recover from such illnesses, there have been deaths and miscarriages
associated with unpasteurized dairy products. The choice is yours: raw or
For more information on this topic, district
residents (Bethany, Hamden , North Haven and Woodbridge ) can call
Quinnipiack Valley Health District, 203 248-4528 or request on line,
|An Ounce of Prevention is a
publication of the Quinnipiack Valley Health District, located at
1151 Hartford Turnpike, North Haven, CT 06473. Telephone:
248-4528. An Ounce of Prevention is
written by V. Deborah Culligan. The articles are published in the following local newspapers, The Advisor &
The content is provided as health education and
information to help you make health decisions. It is not intended to
be legal or medical advice, or substitute for recommendations made
by your health care provider. Address all comments to the district