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CDC Report Links Raw Dairy Foods to Foodborne Illnesses

February 6, 2013

A comprehensive new government analysis of the sources of foodborne illness found that because of the consumption of raw milk products, dairy foods are the second leading source of viral and bacterial problems.

The report, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found that during a ten-year period from 1998 to 2008, dairy products caused 14 percent of the illnesses and 10 percent of the deaths. Only leafy greens had a higher incidence of illness. Part of the reason why dairy products were commonly linked to foodborne illness is that their level of consumption is high, with many Americans eating some form of dairy product every day. The other reason is that the consumption of raw fluid milk, and home-made cheeses made from raw milk, continues to grow.

The CDC report is “a compelling illustration of why NMPF has asked federal and state regulators and legislators to more aggressively oppose efforts, many of them at the state level, to expand the sales and availability of raw milk,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF. “The purported benefits of the products over pasteurized milk have no scientific validity and are impossible to prove, but the health risks are clear, as this report indicates.”

Foodborne illness sends 128,000 Americans to the hospital each year and leads to 3,000 deaths annually. To compile the report, the CDC evaluated more than 4,500 food-borne disease outbreaks from 1998 to 2008.