Midwest Dairy Association

Raw Milk and Food Safety

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about one in six Americans (that's 48 million people) get sick because of foodborne illness each year. When it comes to dairy products, the CDC warns that when consumed raw, “milk and products made from milk (including certain cheeses, ice cream, and yogurt) can pose severe health risks.” That's why milk products need to be pasteurized (or quickly heated) in order to get rid of bacteria and other germs that can lead to illness.

Don't fret, however, because “pasteurization does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk,” according to the CDC. It is still nutrient-rich and contains protein and carbohydrates. Visit the CDC's recently updated Food Safety and Raw Milk site for more information on raw milk.

To further address the complex issues surrounding raw milk science and policy, visit Real Raw Milk Facts. This website addresses the complex issues surrounding raw milk science and policy. The website serves as a clearinghouse for evidence-based studies, presentations, commentaries, regulations, and position statements on raw milk to provide consumers with a better understanding of key health and safety issues associated with the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products. The site content was developed and reviewed by scientists and health educators in universities, government, industry, and professional organizations.

Additional Resources

Raw Milk Fact Sheet

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized before consumption. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend drinking only pasteurized milk, because raw milk may contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, Listeria and Salmonella that can cause life-threatening illnesses. This recommendation has been affirmed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others.

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Dairy Food Safety Fact Sheet

The dairy industry takes food safety very seriously. Throughout the years, dairy farmers and processors have worked closely with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state regulatory officials to establish safety regulations and practices including the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system. As a result, American milk and dairy products are among the safest and most highly regulated foods in the world.

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Safety and Quality