Milk & Human Health
With so many options to choose from and a mass of conflicting information online, it can be hard to decide which dairy products are the safest to consume.
We hope whatever kind of milk you choose to buy, that you support the small farmers in your community and encourage them to test their milk regularly for your safety!
Raw vs. Pasteurized
Nutrient content aside, raw and pasteurized milk can be safe or dangerous depending on how hygienic the original producer is and how the milk was handled from production to consumption. Pasteurization reduces the risk of ingesting milk-borne pathogens while extending the product's shelf life. See what the Federal Food and Drug Administration says about it here.
Most state laws permitting the sale of raw milk require the milk to be purchased on farm or directly from the producer to ensure the consumer has an opportunity to assess the cleanliness of the operation. Check out our Dairy Database to find out what the Raw Milk Regulations are in your state!
Conventional vs. Organic
The terms "conventional" and "organic" can be used to refer to a wide variety of issues, including the following:
- Antibiotic residues
- Pesticide Residues
- GMO feeds
- Animal welfare
- Nutritional value
- Environmental impact
The Organic Standards developed by the National Organic Program (NOP) under the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) are lengthy and complex.
This Fact Sheet on Organic Production and Handling Standards may answer many of the questions you have. Additional fact sheets can be found here.
Johne's Disease & Leukosis Virus
Johne's is an infectious wasting condition of cattle and other ruminants caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (Map). In a 2007 study, the USDA found that 68.1% of American dairy herds were infected with Map. The US Animal Health and Plant Inspection Service's (APHIS) claims commercial pasteurization inactivates the Map bacteria in milk, though the UK's Food Standards Agency found it in 2% of commercial milk. The organism has been detected in humans with Crohn's disease and has similar symptoms. APHIS states that a few studies have shown it to be opportunistic in people with compromised immune systems.
In cattle, the Leukosis virus is known as Bovine leukemia virus. APHIS found it to be HIGHLY prevalent in US dairy herds in a 1997 study, between 87-99% of herds included infected individuals. The most recent survey from the Merck Veterinary Manual estimates that 44% of dairy cattle are infected. A 2014 study at University of California Berkeley found that "BLV in human tissues indicates a risk for the acquisition and proliferation of this virus in humans," and additional research was needed to confirm a link between BLV and human breast cancer.
We tested an array of milk from our store shelves for Johne's & Leukosis here in our FDA-Certified Lab using the ELISA method and found that only in UHT (ultra-high-temperature processed) milk were the antibodies for the disease and virus NOT present. This is likely due to the intensive process of UHT pasteurizing milk. While the UHT milk seems safe in so far as it tested negative for Johne's and Leukosis, many have raised concerns about the digestibility of such intensively processed milk.
If you are unsure about the safety of the milk you are consuming, send us a sample for testing. We offer test packages for consumers as well as producers so you can rest assured.