Raw milk health risks under review
Sat, 05 Jan 2013 6:31p.m.
By Ingrid Hipkiss
Since the 1950s, New Zealand’s commercial milk supply has been pasteurised – treated with heat to kill bacteria – and most of us have swallowed the official position, that untreated milk is potentially dangerous to drink.
But there's a growing trend of consumers wanting their food in a natural state, and that includes milk. They say raw milk is not only safe, it's better for you, and a major study is underway to see if they're right.
Most of us buy our milk pasteurised and from a dairy or supermarket fridge. But for mums like Angela Jones that's changing. She's one of thousands of townies making a regular trek to a trusted farmer to buy raw milk at the farm gate.
“[It is] really just for a lifestyle choice,” says Ms Jones. “It’s important for me to know where my food is coming from and less processed has got to be better.”
Raw milk devotees say it's a natural pro-biotic and boosts immunity and is suitable for children who are lactose intolerant or allergic to treated milk.
“The pasteurisation process actually creates histamines in milk, and that's what a lot of children especially are allergic to,” says Debbie Swanick of Organic NZ.
Studies of children raised on farms suggest raw milk protects against allergies and asthma.
Massey University has just begun a $1.2-million study into the potential health benefits.
“What we are going to do in this study is to assess whether raw milk exposure in an urban sample of children also protects against allergies and asthma,” says Professor Jeroen Douwes.
But he says raw milk can harbour dangerous bacteria. That's backed up by the official stance that drinking raw milk poses serious health risks.
“Raw milk contains a number of illness-causing bacteria, bacteria like campylobacter, salmonella, e coli that can be really, really serious,” says Carol Barnao of the Ministry of Primary Industries.
She says there are more than 4 million cases of gastro-enteritis in New Zealand every year. The cause of most cases isn't known, but in five years, 79 cases have been officially linked to raw milk.
“I don't believe it has health risks,” says Ms Jones. “The milk we have is tested everyday. I have faith and trust in that and I just don't believe we have to have food as heavily processed as what we're being told we do.”
The sale of raw milk is controversial. 3 News struggled to find farmers who'd let us film them selling it.
Raw milk sales are banned in countries like Australia and Canada, but it's sold in the UK and some US states. Here, the sale's limited to five litres per person per day. But the Government is currently considering increasing that limit.
In the meantime the raw milk recommendation is spread by word of mouth, and Facebook pages connect customers with co-operative farmers.
“If you have a taste of the raw milk compared to commercial milk it tastes like you're drinking cream,” says Ms Jones. “It’s just incredible and it’s not the cream factor that’s the difference. It’s the lack of process. It tastes like it should taste.”
It is an acquired taste that more people are giving a go.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
18/05/2013 12:50:04 p.m.
There is very little nourishment in pasteurised milk. It is mainly dead "filler". Calves fed on it usually die within 30 days. Until I was into my 'teens, I, along with my family, consumed raw milk and we all enjoyed rude good health. Raw milk is REAL food, with many health benefits, and there are no health risks associated with raw milk from healthy livestock farmed in proper conditions. For those who want it, or, in some cases, need it, raw milk should be freely available in any quantity required and present marketing restrictions should be abolished. The anti raw milk scaremongering should be seen for what it is; blatant profiteering by a large corporate in cahoots with a blinkered health system. When it comes to food, we should all have unrestricted freedom of choice.
15/05/2013 12:21:40 p.m.
Our parents/grandparents grew up on raw milk without all the added hygiene safeguards we have today & they were a darned sight more healthy than this generation ... allergies, cancer, numbers of weird illnesses, - old and young are far less healthy today. What is with that? I don't buy into this scaremongering on raw milk one bit. I frankly think it just hits the pockets of corporate profits.
27/04/2013 12:29:27 a.m.
Bought up on raw milk with no problems as our town milk supply is one of the most tightly regulated in the world.
Milk is taken & a basic test done before the farmers milk is added to the pickup tanker. Further tests are done on each farmers milk at the factory. Any milk outside of the required parameters sees the farmer face a hefty fine.
All dairy cows are TB tested annually.
A group of locals are looking at getting a house cow between them & have no problems using the milk for their families. These families do have children but want to know the origin of the milk they consume, & the health & wellbeing of the cow
Better to know their milk comes from one tested cow with good quality milk than multiple unidentified animals
12/02/2013 11:03:37 p.m.
As an ex-dairy farmer, cows ARE NOT injected with hormones to produce more milk (at least in this country). The only thing we injected was an anti-parasitic, and if we didn't do that we'd have had very unhealthy animals..
22/01/2013 11:24:23 a.m.
Anwen Tapper wrote:
I live on a lifestyle block and milk our Saanen goat each morning. We drink the milk raw and make cheeses. It is simply delicious, fresh and creamy. I cannot handle the watery plastic taste of storebought cow milk anymore. BUT in order to keep safe I wash and sterilise my milking gear and glass bottles carefully each day, wash the udder well, monitor my goats health and only store the milk in the fridge for 3 days before using, or it goes out to the pigs. For mass produced milk for the general public pasterisation is safer, considering travel times and trying to monitor hygiene on thousands of udders every single day. What I object to is trying to prevent people buying their raw milk fresh from the farmer. It is a matter of consumer choice. How can we allow sales of 5L if it is truly unsafe? It makes no sense. Many more people get sick each year from their own unhygienic food practises. Not to mention the legal sale of alcohol and cigarettes, if you want to talk about risk of harm. If you enforce food laws for the sake of monetary gain to the dairy industry you are veering away from a democratic society. Let people choose their food - the number prepared to go to lengths to obtain raw milk are no great threat to Fonterra.
15/01/2013 3:24:13 p.m.
Firstly, healthy dairy cows are not injected with anything. they are healthy, so don't need medicating. if a sick cow is inoculated or medicated it is sequestered from the herd and milked separately and that milk is dumped or used on the farm. tanker drivers test for inhibited substances like antibiotics before pumping onto the truck.if a test comes back positive then the pat hits the fan for that farmer.
the problem with unpasteurized milk is the time between udder and consumption. if you're buying it from the farm and the cows are healthy and you consume it within 24 hours, then yes it would be a very good option for your family's wellbeing, if not then you WILL have problems. As an aside homogenization is very safe. the only issue is it shortens its life if allowed to warm up to room temp. you'll have worse issues with any margarine available.
9/01/2013 1:58:10 a.m.
Scott Korkowski wrote:
As a dairy farmer, I drank whole milk my whole life. I agree that whole milk has health benefits. I also agree that the dairy farmer makes the quality by keeping the scc down and the bacteria low by doing right procedure and keeping cow health a priority.
7/01/2013 7:14:02 a.m.
We just need a nice graphic campaign on TV showing the benefits of unpasturised milk. Lets start with standard farming practises today which include not washing the teats unless they are quite dirty, where it used to be more teat washing. No doubt we can get a nice video of some cowmanure covered teats having the cups applied, and then the following picture of the advocates telling you this is better for you!The amount of such contamination is very low, but its still their. By pasturisation it takes a low risk and makes it much smaller. NZ is about the least tollerant of poor quality milk in the world. Why? Because Fonterra is tougher on its suppliers than anyone else. If farmers cared less, they would have more non-milk stuff in our milk, but they dont, as they would get grades on their milk if they did, and grades are very costly in the pocket, often costing more than the milk is worth for the contamination applied to other milk. Farmers do care about milk quality, as it costs them not to care. Compare this to other countries where they have legislated to allow filth and poisons in the milk, to support dirty farming practises!In the 50's we also had our school milk program, and the milk sitting out in the sun without refrigeration to unhealthily grow bacteria for our school kids to drink.
6/01/2013 6:03:36 p.m.
All your comments are extremely interesting, and everyone has valid points. There are always risks and benefits to anything that we consume, regardless of what it is, where it is sourced, manufactured, processed and handled. However, who has had to live with the consequences of forced policy and medical practices. I grew up in a country where it was impossible to source raw milk and where prescribed antibiotics were handed out almost like candy. This was done because the government and its advisers though this was the most prudent course of action as a result of studies undertaken, but few actually listened to or even considered real world situations. Well meant but unfortunate. I speak out of experience. I was highly intolerant to dairy, to the point that within the first 10 years of my life I had developed Chronic Ear infections (requiring antibiotics) which resulted in the loss of my eardrums, by 10 I was 90% deaf. At 10 my family immigrated to New Zealand and spend 3 years on a farm. My Mother had heard of the benefits of raw milk via our GP and very tentatively started me on it. I didn’t react, in fact the infections subsided, within a year I was booked for my first ear surgery, and given back my hearing (you have no idea what effect that has). We later moved into a small town and no longer had access to raw milk so switched to shop bought milk. My intolerance reoccurred. There are two reasons for this; first the process of pasteurisation, artificially creates an enzyme that should not be in milk; second the antibiotics and other medication that is used on the animals. To this day I can still not touch bought milk, but I can have raw milk. At least I now have a CHOICE, a choice to do what is best for MY health. There are many others out there like me who have and are still suffering from this, the least we can do is provide them with a choice for health without being ostracising or chastising them for doing so when the alternative is crippling.
6/01/2013 3:36:14 p.m.
Zelda Wynn wrote:
We always bring home raw milk from Manawatu when visiting from Auckland. It is so yummy. Liked to video on farm. Lucky Wellington people can buy 2 litres packs of raw organic milk.
Car manufacturer Ford has announced that it's stopping vehic...
In a medical first, doctors used plastic particles and a 3D ...
More than 50 New Zealanders die of asthma every year – about...
A spokesperson has confirmed today tourists will be able to ...
A visiting researcher says New Zealand needs to do more to h...
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.