Monday 21 October 2013

Is drinking raw milk safe?

There are few drinks more refreshing than a glass of cold milk straight from the fridge. We drink it raw and unpasteurised. but is this safe? The official public health line is that its not safe but a recent paper in the Journal of food protection says it is safe.

Cool, clean, refreshing and raw
I suspect that the answer is, "yes and no".

YES.... because the milk you buy in the supermarket  has never been cleaner or safer.Milk passes from the cow, through a clean closed system with  micro filters straight into a refrigerated bulk tank. We've come a long way since the 1940s when our milk was carried to customers in churns on a horse drawn milk float then ladled out into the customer's jug. That's when pasteurisation (heat treatment to kill bacteria) became universal and was probably one of the most effective public health measures ever.

NO....because we hand milk into an open container placed directly underneath the goat and its exposed to a highly contaminated environment. We do keep the goats clean, clean the udder with an antiseptic wipe, sterilise the milking pails, filters, containers etc., then its into the freezer for a couple of hours to get the temperature down as quickly as possible.As an Irish colleague of mine once said of a different problem,        " that's all very well in practice Tom, but does it work in theory?"  

No.... it doesn't work in theory for young children and soft cheese making. So on these occasions I heat the milk in a bain marie to 72C, hold it at that temperature for 15 seconds then cool it rapidly to 4C to kill the bugs.

To read a summary of the original paper go to; New Studies Confirm Milk A Low Risk Food -

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