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Why is there growing interest in pasteurized milk?

Why is there growing interest in pasteurized milk?
Why is there growing interest in pasteurized milk?


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Raw milk is growing in popularity, and several states have recently passed or are in the process of legalizing the commercial sale of raw milk, despite well-known health risks. andresr/Getty Images
  • Interest in raw milk is growing, and some states are moving to legalize its sale.
  • The potential change in legislation calls into question the long-standing advice to pasteurise milk, a process that removes harmful bacteria and prevents serious food poisoning.
  • False and misleading information about the health benefits and risks of raw milk is widely shared on the internet.

Do you have milk? Probably, but is it pasteurized?

Interest in raw milk is on the rise — Delaware, Iowa and Louisiana have recently passed or are working to pass bills that would legalize the commercial sale of raw milk — and the move comes at an interesting time as federal officials warn that raw milk may contain high levels of the avian flu virus. Five weeks later Refrigerated.

Efforts to deregulate the sale of raw milk also run counter to gold standard public health guidelines that require milk to be pasteurized to prevent foodborne illness. Established in the 1880s It is believed to be effective in reducing potentially dangerous diseases such as tuberculosis.

Why is there growing interest in raw milk, and why now?

“Raw milk evangelists say that because it's not pasteurized or homogenized, it contains more nutrients, more complete enzymes, and Probiotics and, Lactose intolerance I can tolerate raw milk.” Emily Van Eck“These claims are in direct opposition to established science and norms in the food industry,” says Emily Van Eck Nutrition & Wellness, MS, RD, a registered dietitian.

That's the short answer, but the long answer is complicated. Nutritionists generally believe it comes down to the same old story: money and social influence, especially in the digital age.

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.

“Despite the increased risk of foodborne illness, we are often told it is fresh, natural, unprocessed and 'safe'.” Herbstreet WayMS RD LD Street Smart Nutritionsaid: “Raw milk is not necessarily organic, and it does not necessarily have to come from cows, as goats and sheep can also produce raw milk for human consumption.”

Misinformation has given “pasteurization” a negative connotation.

“Pasteurized milk is raw milk that has been subjected to a heat process that kills harmful microorganisms.” Kathleen Garcia Benson“This is a great way to get the most out of your diet,” said RDN, a registered dietitian with Top Nutrition Coaching. The Standard Milk Act of 1924 As a means to reduce potentially life-threatening food-borne illnesses.”

of Pasteurization Milk is heated to a specific temperature (usually 161°F) for at least 15 seconds and then rapidly cooled to 39°F.

“Because it is not heat-treated to remove microorganisms, [raw milk] If ingested, they can spread bacteria and other dangerous pathogens that can lead to serious illness or death.” Maddie PasquarielloMS, RDN said.

Despite more than a century of mainstreaming the health and safety benefits of pasteurization, raw milk is back in fashion.

“Nutrition fads go together like peanut butter and jelly,” Garcia-Benson says. “Every few months, a new and interesting topic captures people's attention — and their wallets.”

Experts Healthline spoke to said:

  • Financial benefits
  • Social media
  • The desire to eat “more naturally.”
  • Lack of trust in the system

Pasquariello says the main driver of the raw milk boom is wallets.

“In the end, it almost always comes down to money,” she says. “For those spreading this misinformation, content about raw milk is clickbait and outrage generated to drive likes and comments, and ultimately help these creators' videos and content rank higher in the community's algorithms. This is how they get money and clout.”

Others make (or hope to make) money in a more direct way.

“For example, brands that sell raw milk may pay them to create content, regardless of whether they disclose contractual agreements,” Pasquariello said. “Their sales, overall, benefit from increased traffic, increased follower numbers, and importantly, from people becoming fearful of conventional foods and foods that, for example, they would normally buy every day at the grocery store. The more people become fearful of foods that are perfectly safe to eat, the more likely they are to fall victim to these conspiracy theories.”

Social media is a common denominator.

“Wellness influencers often post compelling videos with inspiring personal stories that go viral,” Herbstreit said. “Many of these influencers run lifestyle accounts with large followings, and negative stories about raw milk are rarely shared publicly, creating the illusion that raw milk is safe and legitimate.”

That illusion also includes the idea that raw milk is better because it hasn't been pasteurized.

“The desire to reduce overall food processing and growing interest in home cooking on social media are also influencing the raw milk trend,” Garcia-Benson added.

Finally, data shows that trust in government and its institutions is at an all-time low in 2023. Pew Research Center The report found that fewer than two in 10 Americans said they trust the government in Washington to do the right thing “almost always” or “most of the time.”

“These claims are becoming more prevalent at a time when fear-mongering is common and enthusiasts seeking 'natural remedies' are increasingly distrustful of government agencies, like the FDA, that regulate milk production to keep people safe,” Van Eck said.

“Food freedom” is a buzzword touted by raw milk advocates.

“Everyone has the right to make an informed decision about their health, but there are real consequences that can be avoided by choosing raw milk, and it comes down to weighing the risks and benefits (in this case, the risks and not the actual benefits),” Pasquariello said.

Experts who spoke with Healthline believe true informed consent requires the right information, and they helped clear up some common misconceptions currently circulating about raw milk and pasteurization, including:

Myth: Pasteurization reduces the nutritional value of milk

This myth has been consistently debunked by data and dietary experts.

“Although some advocates claim that pasteurizing milk causes the loss of B vitamins, there is no significant decrease in vitamin or mineral content during pasteurization,” Pasquariello said.

the study Published in 2014 B12 has been shown to survive pasteurization even when heated for 16 seconds.

“There is absolutely no need to fear the process that occurs during pasteurization; many cite 'protein denaturation' as a way to spread fear,” Pasquariello added. “Protein denaturation is an important part of digestion any time you eat food, allowing your body to use the amino acids that are the building blocks of protein for a variety of cellular functions. Not only is it nothing to be afraid of, it's essential to your health.”

Myth: People who are lactose intolerant can safely drink raw milk

Van Eck said there is no truth to this common claim either.

“Lactose is lactose,” she says, “and this belief arose from the erroneous claim that raw milk contains lactase, the enzyme needed to break down lactose. People who are lactose intolerant have low or no functioning lactase.”

Fermented dairy products are a safer, easier-to-digest option for people who are lactose intolerant because “they contain less lactose because the lactose is partially broken down by the bacteria in fermented milk,” Van Eck said.

For the same reasons, drinking raw milk does not prevent lactose intolerance, Herbstreit explained, noting that “raw milk advocates often try to discredit small studies.” Since 2014. ”

The study was small (16 participants) and suggested that raw milk does not reduce symptoms of lactose malabsorption.

“It is notable that although this is an older, very small pilot study, the authors acknowledge important limitations,” Herbstreit said. “They also noted that the study design and participant feedback could inform future study design. However, at this time, no further studies have been published that extend this hypothesis.”

Myth: Eating raw milk will protect you from disease

Experts say the opposite is true.

“Raw milk is Salmonella “Dairy farms are a hotbed of bacteria, including E. coli and E. coli,” Garcia-Benson says. “Even in the cleanest dairy farms, cross-contamination can occur due to the close proximity of the udders to the cow's waste.”

Pasquariello agreed, stressing that claims that the conditions in which animals are kept reduce pathogens and make raw milk safer are not true.

“The environment in which an animal lives doesn't affect the bacterial content of its stomach or whether that content is safe for humans,” Pasquariello says.

Experts also believe that drinking organic raw milk is not an effective way to reduce harm.

“Organic milk can still carry pathogens that can be problematic for humans,” Pasquariello said.

Regarding avian influenza, Research in 2024 It was suggested that laboratory mice fed raw milk from infected cows had higher virus levels in their respiratory tracts.

There is a growing interest in raw milk. However, raw milk is not pasteurized, which means it has been heat-treated to kill bacteria that can cause illness. Food poisoning Like typhoid fever.

Pasteurization has been used for over a century.

Nutrition experts say raw milk's current popularity is driven by an interest in financial gain from influencers and brands, social media, a desire to consume healthier foods and a distrust of government institutions.

However, claims that raw milk is more nutritious or free of pathogens are false. In the latter case, the opposite is true: raw milk, including organic raw milk, is more likely to contain pathogens.

Experts recommend consuming pasteurized milk, highlighting that it is a safer option and is rich in nutrients such as protein and calcium.




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