The federal government said Tuesday that fresh milk is 150 times more dangerous than pasteurized milk — a finding that bolsters the government's argument as it goes after farmers who sell unpasteurized milk across state lines.
After a 13-year review, the taxpayer-funded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said states where so-called "raw milk" is available had twice the rate of dairy-related disease outbreaks as states where those sales are banned.
And disease outbreaks from fresh milk are more serious in nature, according to the study, which found 200 out of 239 hospitalizations during the study stemmed from cases of fresh milk.
"Restricting the sale of raw milk products is likely to reduce the number of outbreaks and can help keep people healthier," said Dr. Robert Tauxe, director of CDC's division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases. "The states that allow sale of raw milk will probably continue to see outbreaks in the future."
Fresh milk devotees say pasteurization — the process of heating food to kill off bacteria — removes some of the health benefits of milk, and argue that when consumers know their suppliers, diseases from raw milk are not an issue.
But the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration say pasteurized milk has all the same benefits as unpasteurized dairy.
Sales of raw milk are governed by states, but the FDA has jurisdiction over sales across state lines and has banned them.
The issue has come to a head in recent months after the FDA sued to shut down an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania who sold to eager customers in the Washington metropolitan region.
After a judge ruled against the farmer, he said he would shut down entirely, including in-state sales, rather than fight the regulators.
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