Raw Milk: A Return to the Primitive?

It’s unfortunate that in the 21st Century the American Academy of Pediatrics has to release a policy statement regarding the danger of consuming raw milk. Over 100 years ago, Louis Pasteur discovered that heating wine could prevent it from souring by killing the bacteria responsible. The process was named pasteurization in honor of Pasteur (but the use of heat to preserve food stuffs had been practiced before). It seems that the ongoing fad of raw milk consumption represents a return to the primitive.


During my critical care fellowship, I took care of a patient who consumed raw milk who developed Campylobacter gastroenteritis and subsequent paralysis secondary to Guillan-Barre Syndrome. Though the patient knowingly consumed the raw milk, he subsequently filed a lawsuit labeling the product he consumed “defective”.


To me, the consumption of raw milk represents a dangerous return to a pre-industrial practice that needlessly increases risk. Though I believe it is each adult’s right to consume this—by definition and design—defective product, I find it highly questionable.