By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
If you’re walking through the grocery store and come across the milk aisle, chances are the dairy beverages were pasteurized – heated to remove any microbes and cooled immediately. However, there has been a recent increase in raw milk consumption, and pediatricians released a statement saying it needs to stop now.
The new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) statement warns that infants, small children, and pregnant moms should stay away from raw dairy products and enjoy pasteurized milk instead. Not only does it have the same exact nutritional value as the unpasteurized kind, there’s a lot of evidence that shows it’s much safer to consume.
For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that raw milk led to 2,384 illnesses, 284 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths from 1998-2011 alone. A more recent study from the Minnesota Department of Health found that for every 6 people that consume raw dairy products, at least 1 gets sick. In fact, the AAP notes that some raw milk contains life-threatening bacteria such as listeria, campylobacter, salmonella, brucella, and E. coli. “Why consume raw milk when the pasteurized product is safer and has no nutritional properties that have been altered or diminished?” said Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, a professor and chief of the neonatology division at the Medical College of Georgia.
Even though only 1-3 percent of dairy products in the US are unpasteurized, it’s still too much. “From a public health standpoint, this continues to be a serious problem,” stated Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University. “Each year we continue to have outbreaks in the US associated with unpasteurized milk or milk product consumption. These outbreaks are completely preventable.”
Though the AAP emphasized that pregnant mothers, infants, and children are at risk, they stress that raw milk can be a potential threat to anyone who consumes it.