Raw Drinks and Food, Raw Pet Food, Raw Meat, Raw Milk, Raw Water

Raw Drinks and Food

By —— Bio and Archives--March 8, 2018

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Raw Drinks and Food
Raw Milk

There are many reasons why some people think about drinking raw milk, which is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful germs. Some people want to eat less processed food. Others have heard that raw milk contains more of certain nutrients than pasteurized milk, or that it can prevent or even solve various health problems. Still others think buying raw milk is one way to support local farmers and sustainable agriculture. 1


If you’re thinking about adding raw milk to your diet, it’s important for you to understand the risks of drinking raw milk. Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. The CDC reports unpasteurized dairy products cause 840 times more illnesses and 45 times more hospitalizations than pasteurized products.2

Raw milk proponents think that the pasteurization process somehow makes the milk less nutritive. However, there are no data to support this. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Substantial data suggest that pasteurized milk confers equivalent health benefits compared with raw milk without the additional risk of bacterial infections,” and that “the benefits of these natural (raw) factors have not been clearly demonstrated in evidence-based studies and, therefore, do not outweigh the risks of raw milk consumption.” 2

A CDC report in August 2016 said that at least 17 people in Colorado consumed raw milk and became sick. Milk samples and patient samples both tested positive for antibiotic-resistant Campylocbacter jejuni which causes vomiting and diarrhea. 3

Early in 2017 and outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning was attributed to a creamery in Walton, New York that specializes in unpasteurized milk products. 4

In Colorado, the sale of raw milk is illegal, however, herdshare programs, in which a member can purchase a share of a herd of cows or goats, are legal and are not regulated by state or local authorities. An investigation identified 12 confirmed and five probably cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection. Raw milk from a herdshare dairy was the source of this outbreak. 5

The CDC reports that unpasteurized (or raw) milk is consumed by only 3.2% of the population, but along with the even smaller percentage of people who consume unpasteurized cheese (1.6%), causes 96% of illnesses from contaminated dairy products. 2

Raw Water

In the United States we generally don’t have to worry about waterborne illness. That’s because our tap water travels through a rigorous system of mechanical filtration and chemical treatment which expunges contaminants, resulting in water that’s clean, refreshing, and among the safest in the world.

Yet the founders of Live Water and other purveyors of the upstart ‘raw water’ movement seek to offer wealthy Americans a way to avoid our present system. They believe that ‘raw’ untreated water harvested from streams and springs is much healthier. 6

Proponents claim that raw water’s health benefits include naturally occurring minerals and microbes. But the reality for any inadequately treated water from the tap or a spring is that it can sometimes include arsenic, and bacteria microbes that can be deadly. 7

Unlike other healthy eating trends, like consuming only raw fruits and vegetables or insisting upon antibiotic-free clean cuts of meat, raw water is actually the opposite of clean. It’s not pure in any way, shape or form, and the only thing natural about it is the fact that potentially deadly bacteria has yet to be removed from it. It is simply put, the dumbest food trend to come along in a long time says Mike Wehner. 8

It’s not just city water that needs to be treated. Water that springs up in the apparently pristine wilderness can also make you sick—in part because animals poop. “While water flowing in the streams and rivers of the back country may look pure, it can still be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other contaminants,” the CDC warns. That’s why the agency recommends that backpackers boil water for between one and three minutes. If that’s not possible, the next best option is both chemically testing and filtering the water. 7

Again from Mike Wehner, “The best (or worst) part about this whole raw water trend is that it actually leads to water that expires just like other foods. Even the most vocal raw water proponents admits that you have to drink any raw water you obtain within a couple of months of its bottling or it will turn the bottle green with algae, like the inside of a fish tank. That sounds just great.” 8

Raw Meat

Depending on the type of animal, raw meat can contain a variety of harmful microorganisms. Raw or undercooked pork can contain Trichinella, a parasitic worm. 9

The CDC reports that several people in California found this out the hard way after consuming a traditional Laotian raw meat dish. The pork came from a wild boar that was raised on a family farm. Later on, 12 people came down with vomiting and diarrhea. Nine of the patients were septic and had to be hospitalized (two of whom were placed in the intensive care unit), senen had kidney damage and six had heart damage. 10

Raw Pet Food

Bacteria and parasites found in raw dog and cat food products can pose health dangers to pets and their owners, researchers warn. They have said there is no evidence of health benefits and that raw meat diets can cause dental and gut injuries as well as growth problems in pets, the latter as a result of a deficiency in certain nutrients, a particular issue with home prepared raw meat diets. 11

The latest study flags a further concern: pathogens. Researchers describe how they analyzed samples from 35 raw meat diet products across eight brands available in the Netherlands—a country where more than half the dog owners are thought to feed their dog at least, in part, with raw meat. The results reveal that 23% of the products tested contained a type of Ecoli that can cause renal failure in humans, while 80% of products across seven brands contained antibiotic-resistant Ecoli. Moreover, species of listeria were found in more than half of the products, while salmonella species were found in 20%, species of sarcocystis in 23%, and Toxoplasma gondii in 6%.11


  1. Casey Barton Behravesh, “Drinking raw milk: it’s not worth the risk,” foodsafety.gov, February 25, 2011
  2. Juliana LeMieux, “Drinking raw milk? Let us hurl some information at you,” acsh.org, May 16, 2017
  3. Alex Berezow, “Drinking raw milk is flunking IQ test,” acsh.org, February 9, 2018
  4. Ruth Kava, “Like Russian roulette? Try raw milk,” acsh.org, March 13, 2017
  5. Alexis Burakoff et al., “Outbreak of fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter jejuni infections associated with raw milk consumption from a herdshare dairy in Colorado 2016,” CDC, February 9, 2018
  6. Ross Pomeroy, “Raw water is insulting,” realclearscience.com, January 22, 2018
  7. Rachel Becker, “Raw water is the latest psuedo-scientific craze that could make you sick,” theverge.com, January 1, 2018
  8. Mike Wehner, “Silicon valley loves raw water that will make you sick,” New York Post, January 3, 2018
  9. Dustin Heaton et al., “Trichinellosis outbreak linked to consumption of privately raised raw boar meat—California, 2017, CDC March 2, 2018
  10. Alex Berezow, “Eating raw met is flunking IQ test,” acsh.org, March 1, 2018
  11. Nicola Davis, “Scientists criticize trend for raw meat pet food after analysis finds pathogens,” The Guardian, January 12, 2018


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Jack Dini -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jack Dini is author of Challenging Environmental Mythology.  He has also written for American Council on Science and Health, Environment & Climate News, and Hawaii Reporter.

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