Raw Milk Linked to Hundreds of Hospitalizations for Foodborne Illness
Currie, Donya, The Nation's Health
Health news at the national and federal levels
Outbreaks linked to unpasteurized milk are common and can lead to severe illness, a recent study found.
The rate of disease outbreaks linked to unpasteurized, or raw, milk was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That study was based on a 13-year review of dairy product outbreaks reported in 1993-2006 in all 50 states.
The study, published Feb. 21 in Emerging Infectious Diseases, also found states where the sale of raw milk was legal had more than twice the rate of outbreaks as states that do not allow the sale of raw milk.
"Restricting the sale of raw milk products is likely to reduce the number of outbreaks and can help keep people healthier," said Robert Tauxe, MD, MPH, deputy director of CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. "The states that allow the sale of raw milk will probably continue to see outbreaks in the future."
The study included 121 dairy-related disease outbreaks that caused more than 4,400 illnesses, 239 hospitalizations and three deaths. In 60 percent of those outbreaks, state health officials found raw milk products were the cause. Nearly all of the hospitalizations were in people sickened by raw milk outbreaks. Raw milk products include cheese and yogurt.
The study also found raw milk product outbreaks led to more severe illnesses and disproportionately affected people younger than age 20. In those outbreaks that tracked the ages of those affected, 60 percent of patients were younger than 20 compared to 20 percent in outbreaks from pasteurized products. …