skip to content, health centers and clinics, search, accessibility statement
  • Home
  • Topics
  • Services
  • Health Coverage
  • Connect with CCHS: 

Raw Milk & Your Health

Milk and milk products are nutritious but consuming them raw can put your health at risk. Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized or heated to 161°F for 20 seconds. The pasteurization process kills harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick. "Organic" milk has a different meaning related to how the cows are raised, and it may or may not be pasteurized.

Bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella and Listeria can contaminate raw milk during the process of milking dairy animals. These bacteria can cause diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, stomach cramping and vomiting, and even more severe symptoms that may include: kidney failure, paralysis and chronic disorders. Young children, infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of becoming dangerously sick from these bacteria.

Anyone who consumes raw milk or products made with raw milk such as cheese, ice cream, yogurt or pudding can become sick. Consuming even very small amounts of contaminated raw milk or raw milk products can be enough to cause illness . Raw milk products may smell or taste fine and still contain harmful bacteria.

To protect your health, choose milk products that have been pasteurized or made with pasteurized milk.