Raw milk

Raw milk

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized.


Humans consumed raw milk before factory farming methods coinciding with the industrial revolution, when large populations congregated into urban areas detached from the agricultural lifestyle to which they were accustomed. Up until that point, individuals and families owned their own goats, cows and other livestock and milked them on a daily basis.

Legal status


Commercial distribution of packaged raw milk is prohibited in many countries. However, 28 US states allow sales of raw milk, and in other parts of the world, raw milk can often be bought directly from the farmer. Raw milk is sometimes distributed through a share program, wherein the consumer owns a share in the dairy animal or the herd, and can be considered to be consuming milk from their own animal.

In Middle East

Human consumption of raw camel milk is very popular in the Middle East, especially in rural areas. In many large cities there are people who sell raw milk, although some large cities are illegalizing that due to hygiene issues.

In Africa

Although milk consumption is fairly low compared to the rest of the world, in tribes where milk consumption is popular, such as the Maasai tribe, milk drunk is typically unpasteurized.

In Europe

Milk is typically consumed unpasteurized in rural areas of Europe, and raw milk can typically be found in small amounts at stores in large cities.

Production of raw milk is illegal in Scotland. It is legal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the only registered producers are in England. About 200 producers sell raw, or "green top" milk direct to consumers, either at the farm or through a delivery service. The bottle must display the warning "this product has not been heat-treated and my contain organisms harmful to health", and the dairy must conform to higher hygiene standards than dairies producing only pasturised milk.

In Asia

In rural areas of Asia where milk consumption is popular, milk is typically unpasteurized. In large cities of Asia, raw milk, especially from water buffalo, is typical. In most countries of Asia, laws prohibiting raw milk are nonexistent or rarely enforced.

In Australia

Raw milk for drinking purposes is illegal in all states and territories, as is all raw cheese. This has been circumvented somewhat by selling Raw milk as 'bath milk'. An exception to the cheese rule has been made recently for two Roquefort cheeses. There is some indication of share owning cows, allowing the "owners" to consume the raw milk, but also evidence that the government is trying to close this loop hole.

In Canada

The sale of raw milk directly to consumers is prohibited in Canada under the Food and Drug Regulations since 1991.

Section B.08.002.2 (1)

no person shall sell the normal lacteal secretion obtained from the mammary gland of the cow, genus Bos, or of any other animal, or sell a dairy product made with any such secretion, unless the secretion or dairy product has been pasteurized by being held at a temperature and for a period that ensure the reduction of the alkaline phosphatase activity so as to meet the tolerances specified in official method MFO-3, Determination of Phosphatase Activity in Dairy Products, dated November 30, 1981.

However, like the United States, Canada permits the sale of raw milk cheeses that are aged for at least 60 days.

In the United States

Most states impose restrictions on raw milk suppliers due to concerns about safety. Every state but Pennsylvania, California, New York, and Maryland has passed the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance originally proposed by the United States Public Health Service in 1924. The most recent version is called the 2003 Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. All 50 states permit the sale of raw milk cheeses that are aged for at least 60 days.

South Carolina, Arizona, California, Connecticut, and Washington allow raw milk sales in retail stores with appropriate warning labeling, or ostensibly labeled "for pets only".

Raw milk may be sold from the farm in 28 states under varying restrictions. In California, Connecticut, Maine, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and New Mexico it may be sold in stores. Washington State allows raw milk to be sold with restrictions. Some states allow raw milk to be sold "for animal consumption" only.

Although it is illegal in Indiana, Colorado, Michigan and Ohio for a dairy to sell raw milk, consumers are able to lease part of a cow (a "cow share") or part of a herd (a "herd share") to obtain raw milk. In Michigan, for example, "milk groups" have been formed in which suburban families take turns travelling to a distant dairy farm to obtain the week's raw milk for all the members of the group.

The FDA reports that, in 2002, consuming partially heated raw milk and raw milk products caused 200 Americans to become ill in any manner .

Debate in the United States

Although agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and numerous other world-wide regulatory agencies say that pathogens from raw milk make it unsafe to consume, certain organizations such as the Weston A. Price Foundation in its "Real Milk" campaign say that raw milk has health benefits that are destroyed in the pasteurization process, and that it can be produced hygienically.


External links

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