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Is Raw Milk Beneficial for Your Health?

Raw milk is a natural product that can make you feel connected to the earth, but it also carries a high risk of making you sick. Recently, it has gained attention as a supposed health trend and political statement, largely driven by reports of bird flu. Some TikTokers are promoting raw milk, potentially for affiliate marketing deals. Here’s the scoop.

What is Raw Milk?

Raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurized. The regular milk you buy in stores is pasteurized as a safety measure. This process involves heating the milk to 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds to kill harmful bacteria, then rapidly cooling it.

Before pasteurization became common, milk often carried disease-causing organisms like tuberculosis, Salmonella, diphtheria, and diarrhea-inducing bacteria. Today, federal law mandates pasteurization for milk sold across state lines, and state laws require it for most milk sold within states.

Raw milk is legal in some states, with varying regulations. In some states, it’s available in stores; in others, it can only be sold directly from farms, labeled as pet milk, or through cow-share programs. In many states, all sales of raw milk are illegal.

Despite its risks, raw milk is a niche product favored by some cheesemakers and those who believe “natural” is better. The FDA has linked raw milk to 143 disease outbreaks since 1987, including illnesses from Listeria (which can cause stillbirths) and E. coli, which can spread from person to person.

Why the Buzz About Raw Milk?

Two recent developments have thrust raw milk into the spotlight. First, a bird flu virus affecting cows and birds has been detected in grocery store milk samples. While it’s not clear if pasteurization kills the virus, people aren’t contracting bird flu from milk, suggesting pasteurization is effective.

This bird flu news has led the FDA and CDC to reinforce their warnings against drinking raw milk, especially for vulnerable groups like children and pregnant individuals, due to the risk of Listeria and other pathogens.

Whenever there’s a clear public health message, there’s pushback. Some view the government’s stance on raw milk as an infringement on their right to natural, albeit bacteria-laden, products. At least one conservative group is selling “got raw milk?” shirts.

Additionally, Louisiana recently passed a bill allowing the sale of raw milk labeled “not for human consumption.” Despite the warning, some people are eager to get their raw milk, pathogens and all.

What Are TikTokers Saying?

TikTokers are promoting raw milk with claims that it’s more digestible, contains beneficial bacteria, or retains more vitamins and nutrients than pasteurized milk. However, scientific consensus disagrees. Pasteurized milk retains the same nutritional content as raw milk; heating doesn’t remove vitamins or minerals.

While pasteurization kills both harmful and beneficial bacteria, the focus is on eliminating the harmful ones. To get probiotics, it’s better to consume pasteurized milk and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt.

The Marketing Angle

Many TikTokers are also pushing raw milk for affiliate marketing. One popular video features a man touting the supposed benefits of raw milk and promoting a specific farm. He claims the milk is safe because the farm tests it, but the farm’s website lacks details on which pathogens are tested for and how.

Should You Drink Raw Milk?

The FDA advises against it. Common TikTok claims are misleading: raw milk enzymes don’t aid digestion, its bacteria aren’t beneficial for our digestive system, and it’s not more nutritious than pasteurized milk. Even with testing, raw milk can never be guaranteed pathogen-free.

In conclusion, while raw milk might seem appealing for its natural allure, the health risks far outweigh any perceived benefits.

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