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Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized, a process where food and drink is heated to kill the bacteria that can cause illness. Pasteurization destroys germs such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli. In addition to killing the bad germs, pasteurization also kills good bacteria and some beneficial enzymes (although research shows no meaningful difference in nutritional values between unpasteurized and pasteurized milk, and the important nutrients found naturally in milk are not significantly affected by heat). Both the US Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly warn consumers of the dangers of harmful bacteria in raw milk and raw-milk products such as yogurt and cheese. Pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, older adults and children are considered at particular risk for illness.
However, modern safety techniques, including sanitary and refrigerated storage and transportation, as well as regulated inspections, provide sufficient measures to keep raw milk safe. The choice to include raw milk in your diet is a personal one. If you choose to consume it, it’s important to know the source. To ensure you’re getting the safest, highest quality, only buy raw milk that comes from reputable farmers who raise organic, grass-fed cows.