Medical Fun Facts Podcast

MFF0013: Raw milk

The only time when raw milk makes sense. Drinking straight from a nipple.

Content notice: I get a little ranty and some people may get offended.

In the last episode, I mentioned I was going to do a show on raw milk. As soon as that show went live a story was published in an Australian medical news magazine that reported on a coroner’s findings from an Australian case that involved a child who died. The raw milk was supplied for cosmetic use and the container was labelled not for human consumption. The child’s parents, however, despite the written warning on the carton fed their child this raw milk that can legally be sold for cosmetic use. As a result, the relevant jurisdiction’s lawmakers passed legislation that would see people fined up to $AUD60,000 for knowingly consuming or causing someone else to consume raw milk. All producers of raw milk must also add a bittering agent to make the raw milk unpalatable. Failure to do so also results in a substantial monetary fine.

A very quick search of ProMED-mail for unpasteurised (you’ll have to use the USA spelling unpasteurized) milk (and also try raw milk) will demonstrate more than enough how stupid it is for people to purchase and consume raw milk or raw milk products.

Before I go on, I want to mention that I posted a status update on Facebook and a friend commented about how she has regularly drunk raw milk. You’ll see my reply. I’ve also milked cows and consumed the milk straight from the teat and also milk that had been stored refrigerated and served the next day with breakfast. I remember loving the layer of cream. The difference is that as a result of urbanisation, people are producing raw milk for commercial purchase. People who live a long way from the dairy property are buying this product. There is uncertain control about the storage and transportation process. It could take days for the milk to get to the consumer. Remember this is unpasteurised milk. Remember that close to the cow’s udder is the cow’s anus. As far as I know, farmers don’t secure and plug the anus to prevent faecal contamination not to mention the bacteria that come off a swinging tail and hair that falls out etc. Any bacteria in the raw milk are free to multiply in the lovely enrichment broth which is milk. Refrigeration helps but remember what I said in episode 12, Listeria monocytogenes can readily multiply at 1 °C.

If you know me at all you know that I have a food blog called Yummy Lummy (that’s at if you’re interested). Back in November 2013, ate at a restaurant and a waiter tried to impress me by explaining the local Bocconcini was made using unpasteurised milk. I queried this and he told me it was legal. The next morning, I rang the local authorities and reported what had happened. I explained that my assumption was the waiter was trying to impress me and I find it hard to believe such a well-known restaurant would do anything dangerous and illegal. The local environmental health officers immediately visited the restaurant, interrogated the manager and inspected the place. It turns out the cheese was safe and not made from unpasteurised milk.

Perhaps you think I’m an unreasonable wanker for reporting a restaurant. Fair enough. Maybe I am. What I do know is that people die because stupid people knowingly supply and sell a dangerous product to stupid people who have this idiotic belief that raw milk has magical healing and wellness powers. Not only do people die but outbreaks of serious infectious diseases occur which can incapacitate a lot of people which affects not only their health but their ability to work. Some serious infections result in organ failure and permanent disability. I just cannot imagine how a parent can play a game of Russian roulette and give raw milk to their children.

So the message of this show is don’t support the trade of raw milk.

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