March 11, 2014 | {category_name}

Raw Milk

Since this is a site dedicated to all things drink related, and milk is a delicious drink, I should probably tackle the debate over raw milk. This is an interesting topic because it encompasses science, politics, health and flavour and I have become increasingly interested with the future of food, hence my Yokel side project. But let's talk about milk.

Louis Pasteur was one of the greatest scientists in human history. His research on germ theory and vaccinations has probably saved or extended billions of lives. He developed the process of heat treating food and beverages to kill off bacteria which help prevent spoilage and food borne illnesses. This process was named after Pasteur and was called pasteurization.

For well over a century pasteurization was considered an important aspect in food safety, though it was not practised universally around the globe, but the potential health hazards of raw milk were recognized globally.

From 1998 to 2011 the CDC has reported that, among dairy product outbreaks, 79% or 148 incidents involved raw milk. These resulted in 2,384 illnesses, 284 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. Most of these illnesses were caused by Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, or Listeria. The most serious part was that 82% of the outbreaks involved at least one person younger than 20 years old. Raw milk accounts for only 1% to 2% of total dairy consumption.

Raw milk advocates make a number of claims and use them to promote their agenda. I've decided to discuss each one individually to see where it leads.

Claim: Beneficial Bacteria

The concept of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, is a pillar of the raw milk movement, but it is completely false. There are no beneficial bacteria present in raw milk expelled from a cows teat as the milk is actually sterile. The presence of bacteria would indicate an infection and the milk would be unfit for sale. Bacteria is present everywhere else in the process (udder, milk processing equipment, farmers hands, etc.), and until you can prove that licking all those items is beneficial, I'll just ignore the healthy bacteria propaganda.

Claim: Beneficial Enzymes

Humans are the only animals that deliberately drink the milk from another creature. Having said that, cows milk contains enzymes for baby cows, not people.

Raw milk advocates seem to believe that the enzymes in raw milk are miracle drugs that will solve their health problems and make them super-human. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and it is. Biologically, enzymes help process food into things the body can utilize and also perform metabolic processes that sustain life. We aren't cows though, so why do we need cow enzymes? Humans can live a perfectly healthy life without ever consuming cows milk. There are even people who believe that consuming cows milk is unnatural and unhealthy.

I like milk and cheese, but scientifically I do not see a case for bovine enzymes being useful to a human.

Claim: Farmers Don't Get Sick

If you live on a farm, and have a cow, there are no laws restricting you from drinking raw milk from that cow. Advocates often use this as proof raw milk is safe. It's not as black and white as they make it seem.

Humans are highly adaptable and our immune system can learn to defend against bacteria and viruses eventually building up an immunity. The problem is when we are introduced to large numbers of foreign bacteria which often leads to unpleasant side effects. Don't believe me? Go eat street food in Mexico or India. The locals do just fine eating the street food, but many of us will have some nasty side-effects and just may require a prescription for Cipro. In some cases the side-effect can be debilitating, taking months to recover.

Centuries ago, only farmers drank raw milk, and they drank it very fresh, usually within hours of milking. The rest of the milk was used to make things like cheese and butter. When consumed fresh, raw milk is fairly safe because bacteria have not had time to reproduce to a level that is dangerous. However, under the right conditions it may only take a few hours for the bacteria to multiply to that point.

Some people's immune systems can handle raw milk, especially those who were raised on a farm and were exposed to the bacteria. Other people will not do well and that is a problem.

Claim: Tastes Better

It is a possibility, but as with everything it all depends on the producer and drinker. Raw milk has a richer flavour because it may have more fat and people love fat which could be the attraction. It could be that the milk is non-homogenized, also resulting in a richer texture.

There is also the lure of illegality that often makes things taste artificially better. I've done enough research on taste science to understand the attraction to raw milk. The most desirable things in life are those things we can't have.

Claim: You Will Know the Farmer

Meeting the farmer doesn't mean much. The trick with raw milk is cleanliness, but cows live in a world full of excrement. Sure, a farmer can clean the udders, but it only takes a few bacteria to contaminate the whole milk batch. In one outbreak the cause was a single hair from a cow that fell into the milk and put 19 people into the hospital.

If a fly lands in your soup, you'll send it back to the kitchen. If you have ever been on a cow farm try counting how many flies there are and look where those flies like to spend their time (hint, a nice steaming pile of fresh crap). Remember, it only takes one fly, that wants a little sip of fresh milk, to contaminate the whole batch.

For all the naysayers and raw milk advocates, it doesn't matter how clean you think your farmer is, it takes one lazy farmhand to mess up. It's one thing to milk for your family, another to milk for the faceless consumers in a distant store.

I've worked in the food and beverage industry for many years and even though I've worked with professionals, everyone has a bad day. A bad meal at a restaurant could make a dozen people sick, a bad day at the farm could mean hundreds of ill people, possibly thousands if the raw milk has a widespread distribution.

So where did that lead us?

My opinion is this, drink raw milk if you like but please don't give it to children, their immune systems do not have the ability to deal with things like e.coli. Under no circumstances would I give my kids raw milk. If you need an example, check out this article and video showing the effects of e.coli, from raw milk, on a 2 year old girl. The infection caused her to have a stroke, required a kidney transplant and caused long term problems. This isn't an isolated incident, if you do some research you will find other cases.

As a parent of two young kids, I would never put my kids at risk of contracting E. coli, listeria, salmonella and campylobacter all for a bag of mystery enzymes that have very questionable health benefits. Seriously, what magical benefits can raw milk impart to my kids that a healthy diet doesn't already do? If anyone comments "what about flavour?", I just add chocolate syrup to the pasteurized milk and voila my kids are in flavour heaven.

As for sellers of raw milk, I believe it should be allowed but with rules and regulations. In Germany they seem to have a reasonable set of rules that require the milk be bought at the farm gate, uses only milk produced at that farm, the milk is no older than two days and must have a warning label "Raw Milk - boil before usage". I would also add that the sellers need to be insured and held liable for any illness caused.

I also believe that any health claims need to be scientifically proven as well. Whether it is corporations or ideologically minded groups, when entering a market there is a tendency to over-state the potential upside and downplay the negatives. In raw milk's case, the health benefits are way over-stated and the potential for illness are very much downplayed.

Raw milk becomes more complicated as this movement grows. Right now raw milk consumption represents only 1% to 2% of total milk consumption, but capitalism dictates that if you can sell raw milk for more money, with less processing, that means increased profits. Once a Wall Street banker smells profit, they will grab the opportunity to upscale the production, using low cost labour and aligned it with corporate values. Translation: food borne illnesses will go up.

For me, I'll stick with pasteurized milk because it is safer, there are no additional health benefits to raw milk nor does it taste epically better than the pasteurized version. That's just me though, I think like a scientist, please feel free to drink as you see fit, just don't feed it to children.

Note: aged cheese, made from raw milk, is generally safe and there are technical reasons why so I see that as a separate and distinct argument from raw milk consumption.


Effect of Raw Milk on Lactose Intolerance

Campylobacteriosis outbreaks in the state of Hesse, Germany, 2005-2011

Recurrent outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni infections associated with a raw milk dairy

Food safety hazards associated with consumption of raw milk.(2009)

Two outbreaks of campylobacteriosis associated with the consumption of raw cows' milk.

Consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products by pregnant women and children.

Escherichia coli 0157:H7 infections in children associated with raw milk (California, 2006)

Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection associated with drinking raw milk (Washington and Oregon, 2007)

A prolonged outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections caused by commercially distributed raw milk

Food safety: unpasteurized milk: a continued public health threat.

Foodborne pathogens in milk and the dairy farm environment

Unpasteurized milk. The hazards of a health fetish.

Raw milk and the protection of public health

Incidence of Listeria spp. in raw milk in Shahrekord, Iran.

The incidence of Listeria spp. in soft cheeses, butter and raw milk in the province of Bologna.

Incidence of Listeria species in raw and pasteurized milk produced in São Paulo, Brazil

Occurrence of Listeria species in raw milk and dairy products produced in Northern Ireland

John Donne12/03/2014

You find so much strong support and opposition to raw milk. Like you, I find the hyperbolic rhetoric to be a bit much.

Bruno Latour has a very interesting book about Louis Pasteur and how he convinced the public and the scientific community about pasteurization. There are a few parallels to the raw milk argument today and the arguments in the past. The book is called: The Pasteurization of France.


Relatives of my wife that happen to be dairy farmers tell us they pasteurize the milk from their own cows that they reserve for family use, this only after they had the experience of contracting listeriosis from it. Draw your own conclusions, if any, from that one data point.

Kira Wadman14/03/2014

Pasteur was a puppet and a fraud.

Kira Wadman14/03/2014

It is extremely unlikely that they contracted listeria from raw milk. Listeria does not thrive in raw milk, but it Is a great concern for pasteurized milk. If they pasteurize their own milk, this is what likely sickened them.

Darcy O'Neil14/03/2014

Hi Kira, generally when multiple peer review journals reject an article, it’s because the science is bad. And I assure you I am not ill informed. As a matter of fact, I am a scientist (chemistry) with over 15 years of experience in research and development labs, including 7 years at Western University. I also live on a farm and have two children. I have no “axe to grind”, I just believe in science.

The reason you like the research, you quote, is because it obviously aligns with your beliefs. Here is some research, accepted by a journal, that shows raw milk has no effect on lactose intolerance.

Kira Wadman14/03/2014

Yes, when multiple peer review journals reject an article, it’s because the science is bad. The research you link to is the one that was rejected by four peer review journals.  The fact that it was published by Time does not improve the science. 

You clearly have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to raw milk.  I don’t even know where to start.  Can you cite ANY research for the numerous statements you make in your opinion piece?

The only supportable statement is the last one:

Note: aged cheese, made from raw milk, is generally safe and there are technical reasons why so I see that as a separate and distinct argument from raw milk consumption.

Yes, for ‘technical’ reasons, the enzymatic and bacterial activity in raw milk cheese make it safe.  These same technical reasons are what make raw milk safe too.

Darcy O'Neil14/03/2014

Hi Kira, I’ve appended the article with a list of 17 references of research on the hazards of raw milk. Just reload the page. There were many more but I selected some important ones. And Listeria does in fact thrive in raw milk.

If you don’t mind, I would like to see the published scientific research that supports your claims, I’m always willing to consider new evidence.

Theo Farmer14/03/2014

There is science by “authority” which has generally been corrupted, particularly around raw milk, then there is science by “repeatability” which provides experiments that any person can repeat. Here is an experiment you, as a chemist, can repeat. 1. Go get some raw grass-fed Jersey cow’s milk. 2. Leave it at 70 degrees for two-five days with the lid on loosely. You are fermenting the milk with its natural cultures and enzymes. Now skim off the top millimeter or so (usually tastes bitter), then taste the sour cream you created. Yum! Skim off the sour cream, stir it a bit, refrigerate. You will have the best, richest sour cream you can get, with all the native cultures (also called probiotics) present. Below the skimmed sour cream, observe the gelantinous (clabbered) milk in the jar. This is good for smoothies or making pancakes, anything you use store-bought buttermilk for. Or just drink it. It is rich in enzymes and probiotics. A key “cow enzyme” that is destroyed by pasteurization is “lactase”. But wait, humans that are not lactose intolerant also produce this enzyme in their digestive system, so maybe it’s more like “mammal enzymes” you are referring to. When raw milk ferments, the lactase and lactose react to create lactic acid which is why the clabber and cream tastes sour. Lactic acid is very effective at killing bacteria, so where science by authority says that e.coli should thrive in raw milk, science by repeatability questions that, and studies have shown that raw milk, at least at room temperature, is not a good medium for bacterial growth. Best science on raw milk can be found through www.westonaprice.org. With raw milk, it is easy to repeat experiments. For example find someone who is truly “lactose intolerant” which is characterized by digestive disruption after drinking pasteurized milk. Give them a big glass of fresh raw cow’s milk to drink. Sit with them for the time period that milk would normally disrupt their system. Every time I have done this, they can tell almost immediately that they have no problem digesting it. Conclusion: people don’t need to produce lactase to digest raw milk. If you want more experiments like this to repeat, just ask. True science should provide repeatable experiments for any of its claims. The experiments should be cheap and easy to repeat. It’s too bad that you don’t want to give your young children raw cow’s milk. Studies show that babies who get raw cow’s milk before age 1 have 1/40th the incidence of asthma and allergies. Have you heard of risk/benefit analyses? Do the public health authorities produce risk/benefit studies on raw milk? Most of what you wrote in this blog entry is just a repetition of well-publicized misanthropic lies.

Darcy O'Neil14/03/2014

Theo, in the United States in 1938, milkborne outbreaks constituted ∼25% of all disease outbreaks due to contaminated food and water. At the beginning of the 21st century, milk and milk products were associated with 1% of all such outbreaks.

What you have posted above is propaganda and you have no clue about what you are talking
about, you are simply parroting what other people have told you.

And there is only one type of science, that of observation.

Theo Farmer14/03/2014

I repeat the sour cream experiment above daily. I have repeated the lactose intolerance experiment with many friends and family. I milk 4 cows twice a day. Try the experiments above if you dare. I doubt that you will be that brave, because the repeatable results threaten your entire world view.

Darcy O'Neil14/03/2014

My world view changes daily, but I also look at history to understand
the future. The problem with junk or pseudo science, which is what you
are describing, is that even if I performed your “experiment” you would
win either way. If I stayed healthy you’d say your point is proven, if I
got sick you’d shrug, blame me for doing it wrong and continue
promoting your agenda.

Real science is done under a set of
conditions, with a sample size of more than one, because individual
reporting is not statistically significant. But for people who never
studied science, they will never understand.

Kira Wadman14/03/2014

Pasteurization was a 19th century solution to a 19th century sanitation problem.

Darcy O'Neil14/03/2014

Not true. All the diseases (e.coli, listeria, etc.) are still around and E. coli O157:H7 is a fairly new mutation that is more potent that its predecessors. It’s not the milk that is the problem, though a sick cow can be a problem, it’s the environment (animal excrement, poor farm hygiene, insects, etc.) that is the problem.  It’s impossible to be 100% clean, not even surgery rooms can guarantee that.

The real question with raw milk is how many illnesses are acceptable?

Kira Wadman 14/03/2014

I don’t have time to educate you, especially since you seem entirely unwilling to learn. It is you that is doing the parroting. You are referencing sanitation issues from 1938. Those were distillery dairies, and the milk was called swill milk. The cows were kept in the distilleries and fed the spent grain from the grain processing. As we now know, this causes an imbalance of the ph in the cow’s rumen, creating a perfect environment for pathogens to proliferate. That is not the case with grass fed cows. The distillery cows were being hand-milked into open buckets in terrible, unsanitary conditions. That is also not the case today. There is no chance for a fly to get into the system. Instead of fixing the problem, they boiled the milk, allowing them to continue the horrible practices. The illnesses caused by these swill dairies in the city were not experienced in the countryside.

Darcy O'Neil14/03/2014

Kira, are you saying that a farm milking facility is cleaner than a hospital operating room? Also, I provided 17 research papers, as per your request, but you haven’t provided any research to backup up your statements.

Kira Wadman14/03/2014

I don’t have time to educate you, especially when it seems so clear that you are unwilling to learn. You are the one doing the parroting. I’ve actually done the research.

You’re referencing the year 1938. There was a period of time when raw milk was quite unsafe to drink. Cows were being kept in the cities, in distilleries, being fed spent grain from the distillation process. Grain changes the ph in a cow’s rumen, creating a perfect enviroent for pathogens to proliferate, which they did. It was called Swill Milk, and it was truly unsafe to drink. The cows were also being milked by hand into open buckets. There was a huge sanitation issue. The answer to this problem was not to change the conditions for the cows, but to boil the milk.  There were no cases of illness in the countryside from grassfed cows. Yes, it matters. There is no chance of flies ‘sipping’ milk with modern closed milking systems.
There are still filthy farms and unsanitary practices, including the heartbreaking story of the farmer’s 2 year old daughter. That is a needless tragedy. However, to put the risk in context, there are FAR more illnesses and deaths from cantelope, peanut butter, and salad than anything you will ever see from raw milk. Where is the outrage and personal stories and cautionary tales?

Darcy O'Neil14/03/2014

Kira, risk is inherent in life, but raw milk is a known vector for illness and it is preventable using pasteurization. You can’t pasteurize lettuce or melons. I never said ban raw milk, just be truthful about it because the raw milk movement is being dishonest. My major concern is the number of children falling ill with the product you sell and promote. Simple warnings would be helpful. It’s only a glass of milk, not a miracle drug. Here’s some stuff to consider, and remember that as more raw milk is sold, these stories will increase: http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/...

Theo Farmer15/03/2014

The repeatable experiment I provided (make sour cream from raw cow’s milk) refutes your first two statements about no beneficial bacteria and no enzymes. Both of those are present in raw milk and act at room temperature to culture the cream and clabber the milk. Make some tasty sour cream and learn. Also, you can take the sour cream at room temperature and make butter in your Cuisinart in under a minute. Then you get butter and buttermilk. This is a blog about the art of drink…well there is nothing more amazing than a nice glass of raw buttermilk made with the cow’s native cultures and topped with a little salt and pepper. Come on Darcy. Find a farmer with a nice Jersey cow and try the experiment. It’s fun and tasty!

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

This is the third time I have successfully replied, only to see the comment vanish. Basically, what you have written here is nonsense and nonscience.  There are so many things wrong - it amounts to uninformed opinion. The sheer ignorance of stating that there are no probiotics or beneficial bacteria in raw milk is a doozy. Then move on to cow enzymes vs human enzymes (enzymes are enzymes), and you’re definitely disqualified. Go back to writing about topics you understand, because raw milk and even basic biology are not your forte.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

Kira, it is a fact that milk should be sterile when it comes out of the teat, bacteria present in the cows body would indicate an infection and could cause mastitis in the teat. The bacteria comes from outside the body, in the surrounding environment.

And wow, enzymes are not just enzymes. That’s like saying blood is just blood and people can get their choice of human, cow or pig’s blood for a transfusion. That wouldn’t work out well. Cows are ruminants mammals and their biology is very different than human biology.

You may not understand science, but spreading what you don’t know, or simply repeating what a Google search told you is not science.


Actually, I almost certainly misspoke- it was brucellosis that they contracted. This was in Ireland and quite a few years ago. I see that brucellosis has been eradicated there for five years. Apologies for the likely misinformation.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

That makes much more sense, thank you for the thoughtful correction. You are able to adapt to new information, unlike the silly host of this site. I salute you.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

Kira, you realize that Brucellosis is a pathogen in raw milk, contradicting what you’ve posted below?

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

You are absolutely 100% wrong that we are more bacteria than human. In fact our bodies contain only 1% to 3% bacteria (reference:


You realize there are about 7500 different enzymes in the human body?

You have yet to provide any scientific proof to validate your claims, aside from linking to spammy websites.

My problem is that you are as slippery as an unethical company. You have no proof of your claims, but you repeat them over and over again because it benefits the sales of raw milk on your farm.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

It goes without saying that pathogens can be present in ANY food that is handled incorrectly and/or in unsanitary conditions. The responsibility for reducing the incidence is high, and can be done on clean, conscientious farms.


Seriously?  Of who?

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

It was a combination of the distillery dairies (who were killing people with their ‘swill milk’, and the government health authorities that just wanted the deaths to stop. Pasteurization was originally applied to save spoiled wine, and them employed in the swill dairies to address the pathogenic disaster created from the horrificly unsanitary conditions in the distillery dairies. Voila! It worked. Boiling the milk killed the pathogens. It didn’t improve the milk, but it did stop the 50% mortality rate NY was experiencing. So, no one had to prove the conditions for the cows, and business went on as usual. The best, deepest history on this is in the book, ‘The Untold Story of Milk’ by Ron Schmid. Fascinating and exhaustive historical account on the subject.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

So can you explain why the raw milk trend is resulting in a significant increase in the number of illnesses related to its consumption?

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

It isn’t. The raw milk movement is growing by leaps and bounds while pasteurized milk is declining up to 2% per year.  People are waking up, and realizing that the Government numbers and scare tactics are contrived.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

It’s difficult and unsporting of you to keep deleting my comments.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

Actually, they are and statistics are pretty easy to prove. You are a hardened ideologue, who has a business interest in the sale of raw milk, so I don’t expect you to admit anything because it would cut into your profits.

Hopefully a reasonable person can read your responses and understand that you have offered nothing that supports your promotional material.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

I’m not deleting any of your comments, though some of your posts with excessive links did trigger the spam filter.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Contrived statistics from government sources are easy to disprove, using their own falsified ‘data’, and it has been done many times. If you would stop deleting the links I keep posting and read them instead, you would see this for yourself.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Great, then repost them, they are of value to a free and open discussion. Or not, it’s your site.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Profits?  Are you kidding me?! I’m a farmer, and my aim is to bring the most wholesome, clean, and nutritious food to families who care about what they bring to the table.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

Fact, scientists really don’t care about politics. We go to work, do our job according to peer reviewable methods (that means you can repeat the experiment yourself), eat lunch, do more work and go home to the wife and kids. We don’t spend our days looking at tiny little fringe groups figuring out ways to make their lives difficult. We just report the facts.

However, many different fringe groups love to manipulate data to make it look like the world is against them, and seek support for their ideology, which is exactly what the Real Milk site is doing. When manipulating data fails, blame the government and say it is a conspiracy.

Here is my advice: prove your methods scientifically, do the work. I’ve asked multiple times for you to give me real research and the only thing you provide is spammy websites. The Internet is not real research.

Real research involves methods, show me where on a cow these miracle bacteria come from. Tell me how these magical enzymes, from a cow, make me a better person. And this does not mean give me your opinion, develop a protocol that I can repeat so I can see it for myself.

And making sour cream and yogurt on a kitchen counter only proves that there are bacteria in the air. If you boil milk and make it sterile and leave it out it will do the same thing.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

You don’t speak for scientists, and I’m sure many would protest your poor representation. Most would flee upon reading that you don’t believe there are probiotics or beneficial bacteria in raw milk, and that cows and people don’t share the same enzymes, for goodness sakes. You may have degree, but you are not a critical thinker, you regurgitate govt ‘facts’ that have been debunked many times in the lab and in litigation. If you would stop deleting my links and instead INVESTIGATE them, you will find this to be true.
If you boil milk and leave it out, it no longer contains the beneficial bacteria that keep pathogens in check. If you do this, it will putrify.
The work has been done. We see the results daily in the families who seek what we and thousands of other farmers like us produce with care and love every day.
Enzymes are enzymes, and they are the same regardless of the life form they are found in. This is like remedial biology. The same goes for bacteria. Do your own f-ing research, since you think you are a scientist. It’s all there for your enrichment, if you’re willing to break out of the very small, sterile world you choose to inhabit.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

There are different strains of listeria, and the pathogenic one (l.monocytogenes) does not reproduce well in raw milk. It is, however, a leading cause of illness in pasteurized milk and cheeses.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

How many illnesses are tolerable in fast food, CAFO meat, cantelope, peanut butter, and salad? Any one of these foods is far more ‘risky’ than clean, raw milk produced from grassfed cows by a conscientious farmer.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

Well aren’t you pleasant. I have looked at some of the spammy links and they do not show any independent research, they are simply an opinionated response to the research raw milk advocates don’t like.

Probiotics don’t come from the milk, they come from the environment surrounding the cow. I can lick a tree and get bacteria, doesn’t mean it is good for you.

If we already have the same enzymes in our body, why do we need more from a cow?

And science is a contact sport, you have to be willing to support your theories with proof, not opinion. You have failed every time to provide anything meaningful in the way of proof. And then you degrade the debate to ad hominem attacks, which is pretty weak sauce and I assure you that is not cool, though people can see who you really are.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

People who are lactose intolerant don’t produce the lactase enzyme.  Luckily, this enzyme is produced in exactly the right amount in raw milk to digest the lactose.  That’s why we need more from the cow.  Lactase is destroyed by pasteurization, as are all of the other important enzymes and beneficial bacteria.
Go ahead and lick trees, that seems appropriate for you, but the digestive enzymes you need will not be found there.
There are plenty of citations and links to explore in the links I provided (all of which you deleted).

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Raw milk is no more a vector for pathogens than any other food.  Maybe there should be warnings on everything! Or better yet, maybe we should irradiate and sterilize all of our food - that’s certainly where things are heading.
How about building the immune system instead?? Get back to the farm, roll in the blessed dirt, and add all these ‘dangerous germs’ to your immune system’s library while young.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Yes, they are seriously compomised govt studies, plus one from Iraq or Iran.  Nice.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

As a matter of fact, I live on a farm. I even own 20 chickens and 4 ducks. I have 40 apple trees and once the snow goes away I’ll be planting 10 pear trees, 5 grape vines, and 10 blueberry plants. I also have 2 beehives. I even make my own maple syrup as wickedly environmentally unfriendly that is. Will that get enough dirt into my system?

Raw milk is a vector for pathogens because it requires refrigeration, which cannot be guaranteed 100% of the time. Driving home on a hot day can give a small number of bacteria a chance to multiply, or the kids could just leave it out on the counter or the farmer may not be perfect, but who is?

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

I like Persians, they are very friendly people. Don’t be a bigot.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

I’m glad you have some chickens, bees, and fruit trees.
Raw milk is not a vector for pathogens, any more than any other food is.  I really want to find some common ground with you, but you keep making ridiculous statements.  Think about it…when was refrigeration invented?  And…how long have humans been drinking raw milk…?  The answer is that raw milk has been part of the diet as a naturally lacto-fermented product for THOUSANDS of years.  When was pasteurization invented?  Leaving raw milk out at room temperature actually INCREASES it’s safety. Ever heard of curds and whey?  That is the natural result of the milk fermentation process. And it takes a couple days at room temperature to accomplish.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

It doesn’t make any sense, at all, that milk would contain both lactose and the enzyme lactase. That would imply that raw milk digests itself. In that case the enzyme would react with the lactose quickly breaking it down, even before pasteurization rendering milk perfect for everyone, but that is not the case.

Lactase is produced in the digestive system and released when needed, not in the mammary system of the cow.

I even did search through research papers and could not find a single reference or study supporting your claim.

This is why I have a hard time believing your statements.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

The milk contains both lactase and lactose. Yes. The wheels are beginning to turn, you are beginning to understand.  Yes, it digests itself.  This is how cheese is made. This process is delayed by refrigeration. Yes, the enzymes are in the milk (yes, while it’s in the cow). I don’t know what ‘research’ you are looking at.  Look up clabbered raw milk.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

Raw milk doesn’t contain lactase as the two would react in the mammary glands of the cow resulting in zero lactose. Lactase is secreted by the intestinal villi (cells) and this is why some people are lactose intolerant, because genetically they don’t produce the cells that produce lactase.

Enzyme reactions happen fairly quickly and there is actually a high school experiment that can demonstrate this. Here is a link and I highly recommend you consider it as it will show that lactase reacts with lactose pretty quickly. http://www.learnnc.org/lp/page…

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Raw milk contains lactase.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Yes, there are lots of enzymes and bacteria in the human body. Same as any other mammal. Miraculous.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

Repeating a statement multiple times does not make it true. Do the experiment, it’s simple and you can find everything (ingredients) at local stores. You don’t need beakers and graduated cylinders, water glasses work just fine.

Actually, skip that experiment and lets try this one. If raw milk has lactase we can test that theory by simply letting it sit out at room temperature for set periods of time (30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, etc.) and using the glucose test strips to see if the lactose is being converted to glucose!

The answer is right there in front of us. You might even be right, but we won’t know until we do the experiment. And if you are right then you will have hardcore proof to prove people like me wrong. That’s science!

Knowledge is power and you are this close to understanding how science works. You can watch it happen right in front of you and it barely costs a few dollars!

And if you don’t do it, I’m going to do it but I need to find some raw milk. This would make a great video.

Isn’t this exciting?

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

OMG. I almost find myself liking you for your childlike approach to discovering very basic concepts like this.  We do this experiment EVERY DAY. Leave the raw milk out at room temperature (do not try this with pasteurized milk, the lactase is already destroyed and the milk will go rancid), and leave it out at room temperature overnight. Within the next day or two, you will hve sour cream and clabbered milk. Skim the cream off and refrigerate, and you are left with clabbered milk. You can let the clabber continue to ferment into curds and whey, or drain it for a delicious, tangy farmers cheese.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

You don’t need to go to the store when you have your own cow, or can obtain raw milk. The experiment is about lacto-fermentation. You don’t need to buy lactase tablets unless you are using pasteurized milk. The lactase is in the raw milk already. Once it’s out of the cow, the process begins.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

Close, but clabbering milk produces lactic acid and that is a bacterial process much different to what lactase does and lactase doesn’t play a role in that process.

Obviously we both know that lactase breaks down lactose, but lactose is a disaccharide, meaning “two sugars”. Lactose is actually two glucose molecules bound together, which humans can’t metabolize in that form. It’s the same for sucrose, which is a fructose and glucose molecule bound together, the body uses the enzyme sucrase to break that down.

The lactase cleaves or cuts the lactose at the bond that holds the two glucose molecules together, creating digestible glucose. And the primary source of fuel for animals is glucose.

So the experiment measures glucose, not lactic acid.

I’m going to do this smile Most scientists have a wide-eyed child like amusement at discovering things, big or small. We’re fun that way smile

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Actually, we do know, and we have known for thousands of years.  How do you think milk was managed and stored before refrigeration? Much of the world still ferments all of their raw milk.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Yes, please do. I don’t know where you’re going to get the milk though. It’s illegal in Canada unless you own the cow.

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

I live on a farm and the neighbours son owns a cattle farm about 30 minutes away. In the summer they usually take a couple of retired cows and put them in the pasture as pets. I’m sure they drink it and have access.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Are they dairy cows?  Retired beef cows won’t work unless they are crazy friendly (and in milk).

Darcy O'Neil15/03/2014

I’m pretty sure they are dairy. The guy I buy my chickens from has Swiss Brown dairy cows so I could probably get a sample from him as well. I’ve already designed the experiment, keeping it simple and reproducible, but it will probably take a week or two to get it done. I want to make a video of the experiment as well.

Kira Wadman15/03/2014

Great, don’t pass up the opportunity to take some home fresh for drinking too.  A little extra over that and you can make some butter.  Good luck with your experiment.


I do not drink raw milk. I would if I lived on a farm.

I just find Darcy’s attitude toward it obnoxious.  He has no idea what 1-2 percent throughout all time means here.  It appears there is more risk in alcohol abuse and use.  Should we ban your book?  I mean, really . . . the statistics you state is 2 deaths in 15 years.  And you choose to be condescending and ridiculing to the raw milk community, really?  You Canadians aren’t really free folk, or value the importance of not judging people making the best decisions for themselves. 
You only know about the “media” news report, not the everyday lives of farmers throughout time, and people who choose to drink raw milk.  I don’t have this access, or miss it.  But I know enough not to judge these people, or believe what a government agency says about it . . . or what the media reports about it.  I mean, they can’t even find a plane with radar, when they have so many cameras in space . . . and you are going to believe popular belief, etc.  The fact is that farmers wouldn’t drink it if it makes people so sick, or has a bad track history in their family.  Let freedom be.  We don’t need Darcy or the medical community telling us what is good for us . . . only to hear about all the manmade mistakes, and side effects of drugs. 
Kira, you obviously have experience and knowledge that Darcy will not give you credit for . . . I believe you and not Darcy.  Maybe Darcy needs to retract his book (that I was just going to buy on Amazon and came to his blog site first) since it contains cocktails . . . far far more dangerous to children than raw milk.  Darcy needs to add a chapter on not just soda fountains, but maybe what cocktails have led to throughout history . . . like domestic violence, divorce and drunk driving statistics.  Then, maybe he can address “his beliefs” about raw milk.


Can you explain why people in hospitals sue doctors and pharm. companies?  Why is this?  Why are you picking on this community . . . why not on yourself?  You are a hippo hypocrite . . . that is an enormous hypocrite.

Why don’t you find a valid flag to waive . . . speak up about genocides . . . Burma . . . something legit and not a drink furnished naturally by nature.  Some people prefer natural to fake.  Let them be free enough to choose and live the life they want.

Darcy O'Neil06/04/2014

The vast majority of people don’t sue doctors or pharmaceutical companies. And if you fear western medicine, nobody will force you to go see a doctor or to take medicine.

For the record, milk from a cow isn’t a “natural” food for humans, it’s meant for calves. The whole reason people are lactose intolerant is that humans didn’t evolve to drink milk into adulthood.

Burma? Seriously, you want me to talk about Burma on a drink site?

I’m not picking on the raw milk community, I’m exposing a lot of their lies, especially the over-hyped “health benefits”. It’s just a glass of milk, nothing more.

Darcy O'Neil06/04/2014

This comment is all over the map and is an incoherent rant which makes it hard to answer. Nobody promotes giving alcohol to children, so get your head out of your ass if you think that is the case.

I read real scientific research, not what the media promotes or the results of a Google search. If you had actually read the article you would have realized this, especially the references to the research at the end.

If you read my book you would understand the history of the soda fountain, which is where all modern drug culture started (cocaine, heroin, etc.). It was not the drug and alcohol free, family friendly hangout spot everyone thinks it was.

And your comment is a perfect example of why this raw milk debate needs to be discussed by adults, not paranoid ranting, fact adverse people.


I just like raw milk. wink When I can find it. And I intend to start making cheese. But, I live in the US and am blessed with local farms (my sister raises chickens - nothing beats fresh farm eggs!)


I have to agree with shwb about your attitude Darcy. I’m not a raw milk advocate but I’ve done some looking into it lately. It was interesting to check your blog and see your article considering I was just educating myself on the subject. However, the tone of your article is rather unpleasant and opinionated. The tone of your comments is even worse. Jeez get off your high horse and learn to debate without such condescension and childish remarks because “people can see who YOU really are”. Also on the science bit, I’m not a scientist though I’ve studied basic biology, botany and astronomy. Science is full of theories that are not backed up with evidence. You’re quick to call people out and tell them they are not doing real research, everything I’ve learned about science is about spreading knowledge and experimenting. An experiment is still an experiment if it’s not conducted by a professional in a million dollar lab. It is still science. You managed to discredit yourself and offend the raw milk movement all while giving a bad name to the scientific community. Congratulations. If you are any representation of the scientific community, I’m glad I did not pursue it further. Who would want to work with someone so eager to put down real life experience as a basis for theories. Definitely not astronomers. But what do I know I guess I have not studied “real science” therefore I’ll never understand.

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