Food safety is important to the future of animal agriculture. A large part of the population of the United States consumes milk or dairy products in some form every day. In 2009, 607 pounds of milk were consumed per capita in the United States (USDA, 2011). This large consumption of milk can be explained by its nutritional benefits. Milk stimulates good bone health, smooth skin, and a strong immune system. Milk also prevents ailments such as hypertension, dehydration, dental decay, and even some forms of cancer. According to Dr. Schweitzer of the Global Dairy Platform, dairy products are the most nutritious foods available and have high concentrations of essential nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, and protein (Dairy Herd Network, 2010).
Raw milk can be defined as milk that comes straight from the cow (Waldron, 2012). After milking, the milk is not sent to a processor to be pasteurized. Raw milk consumption is becoming nationally recognized. Raw milk advocates state that pasteurizing kills good bacteria and destroys enzymes used by humans to absorb calcium. It has been stated that pasteurization is associated with allergies, diabetes, and other diseases (Bren, 2004). The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and during the pasteurization process, vitamin D is added to the processed milk so that the body may absorb calcium. The reasons people consume milk, regulations created by public health concerns about raw milk, and the consumers’ right to drink raw milk as they please are becoming an issue to the Food and Drug Administration and consumers alike.
Many consumers feel that raw milk has a greater nutritional value than pasteurized milk (Candelaria, 2011). Raw milk is very high in protein. The human body requires eight essential amino acids that can be provided by drinking raw milk (Candelaria, 2011). Another benefit of raw milk is that it contains immunoglobulin, a milk protein that provides resistance to viruses, bacteria, and bacterial toxins and may help reduce symptoms of asthma (Candelaria, 2011). Raw milk is also high in vitamins and minerals; it contains all the essential vitamins and minerals the human body needs. 60 enzymes occur naturally in raw milk that break down starches, fats, and protein and make them more available for the body to use (Candelaria, 2011). Science can back raw milk’s nutritional benefits. In the May 2007 issue of “Clinical and Experimental Allergy”, evidence provided showed specific health benefits in children who drank raw milk. The study of 15,000 children produced results of fewer symptoms of hay fever as well as a reduction in asthma symptoms (Lohrey, 2011).
Many consumers are lactose intolerant. This is due to the lack of the enzyme lactase. Lactase breaks down lactose in the villi of the small intestine (Ng, 2010). Lactobacilli are a type of bacteria that aids in the digestion of lactose, and lactobacilli is present in raw milk and allows the body to digest it efficiently (Penninger, 2011). Pasteurization removes these bacteria from milk, leaving the body to digest the lactose on its own. If consumers are lactose intolerant, they may be able to digest raw milk with fewer side effects.
Improper pasteurization and improper handling of milk after pasteurization can introduce harmful bacteria (Penninger, 2011). Records of food poisoning from pasteurized milk date back to 1945. According to the “Supplemental Report In Favor of Grade A Raw Milk”, there have been more cases of this recently (Penninger, 2011). Risks are present in both types of milk; however, consumers may choose raw milk because it is easier to trace its source which, to consumers, decreases the chances of contamination and illness (Penninger, 2011).
Raw milk has greater nutritional value but more negative effects than pasteurized milk (Chandler, 2011). Articles that provide positive information about raw milk consumption generally end with a warning that if consumers...