The rate of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk (often called raw milk) and products made from it was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 13-year review also revealed that the states where the sale of raw milk was legal had more than twice the rate of outbreaks as states where it was illegal. The study, published Feb. 21 in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, reviewed dairy product outbreaks from 1993 to 2006 in all 50 states. The authors compared the amount of milk produced in the United States during the study period (about 2.7 trillion pounds) to the amount that CDC estimates was likely consumed raw (1 percent or 27 billion pounds) to determine the 150 times higher rate for outbreaks caused by raw milk products.Â Raw milk products include cheese and yogurt…
To illustrate this point, it is useful if we provide a hypothetical weighting of the findings in this study by the amount of nonpasteurized and pasteurized dairy products consumed. Total milk production in the United States in 2010 was estimated at 193 billion pounds, suggesting that ≈2.7 trillion pounds of milk were consumed during the 14 years from 1993 through 2006. If 1% of dairy products were consumed nonpasteurized, then during these 14 years, 73 outbreaks were caused by the 27 billion pounds of nonpasteurized dairy products that were consumed and 48 by the 2,673 billion pounds of pasteurized products that were consumed. Therefore, the incidence of reported outbreaks involving nonpasteurized dairy products was ≈150× greater, per unit of dairy product consumed, than the incidence involving pasteurized products. If, as is probably more likely, <1% of dairy products are consumed nonpasteurized, then the relative risk per unit of nonpasteurized dairy product consumed would be even higher.
Put another way: Even though Americans consume about 100 servings of pasteurized dairy for every serving of unpasteurized dairy, raw milk products were still responsible for 60% of dairy-associated outbreaks.
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