Raw milk is milk from cows, goats, sheep, or other milk-producing animals that is unpasteurized. Pasteurization is a heat-treating process that removes harmful contaminants from milk, including bacteria (E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonela), viruses (norovirus), and parasites (giardia) that are responsible for many foodborne illnesses. Proponents of raw milk believe that pasteurization removes nutrients from milk, however many beneficial nutrients of milk such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, D, and E are not affected by pasteurization. It is estimated that around three percent of the population consumes raw milk, and 82 percent of reported foodborne disease outbreaks from dairy from 1973 to 2009 were caused from raw milk.
States are charged with regulating the sale of raw milk within its borders. The Raw Milk: Risks of Consumption and State Regulation of Sales fact sheet highlights the hazards of consuming raw milk, the misunderstandings of raw milk health benefits, and state regulation of the sale of raw milk.