Information Update - Drinking Raw Milk: It's Not Worth the Risk

Jul 22, 2014, 16:15 ET from Health Canada

OTTAWA, July 22, 2014 /CNW/ -


Some Canadians may believe that pasteurization harms milk and that raw milk is a safe and healthier alternative. However, raw milk can contain dangerous bacteria that could make you and your family seriously sick.

What you should know

Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria that have been linked to foodborne illness (food poisoning) outbreaks. These bacteria can cause serious health conditions, ranging from fever, vomiting and diarrhea to life-threatening kidney failure, miscarriage and even death.

Canada's Food and Drug Regulations require that all milk sold in Canada be pasteurized. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria without affecting the nutritional properties of milk.
Since Health Canada made pasteurization mandatory in 1991, the number of food poisoning outbreaks has dramatically gone down. Cheeses are the only dairy products that can be made of raw or unpasteurized milk as long as they meet specific requirements prescribed by the Food and Drug Regulations.

What you should do

Canadians should not drink raw or unpasteurized milk — especially children, pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems since they are at a higher risk of developing food poisoning. Vulnerable groups especially, should also be aware that raw milk or unpasteurized milk products may be sold at farm stands or farmers' markets and they should reduce their risk by asking if the products are pasteurized before buying them.

Learn about the symptoms of foodborne illness. The most common symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever and headaches. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe.

For more information

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SOURCE Health Canada