Consumers Urged to Avoid Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products

THURSDAY June 12, 2008 -- Consumers should not consume raw (unpasteurized) milk or raw milk products because of the risk of E. coli O157:H7 and other infections, warn researchers who studied a number of cases involving children in California.

In September 2006, the California Department of Public Health was notified that two children had been hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, one of the most common causes of sudden, short-term kidney failure in children. Both children had consumed raw milk in the week before they became ill. One of the children was confirmed to have E. coli O157:H7 infection.

In the following three weeks, four more cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection were identified in children who'd consumed raw cow milk or raw cow colostrum produced by the same dairy.

The findings were published in Friday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 1998 to May 2005, raw milk or raw milk products were implicated in 45 food-borne illness outbreaks that resulted in more than 1,000 cases of illness in the United States, according to the CDC.

Because illnesses caused by raw milk continue to occur, additional efforts are needed to educate consumers and farmers about this issue, the study authors said.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about milk safety.

Posted: June 2008


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