MadSci Network: Agricultural Sciences

Re: Is raw milk healthier than homogenized/pasteurised milk.

Date: Fri Mar 24 17:35:02 2000
Posted By: Robert LaBudde, Staff, Food science, Least Cost Formulations, Ltd.
Area of science: Agricultural Sciences
ID: 953915648.Ag

This is a 'half-truth', similar to arguing that raw meat is healthier than 
cooked meat for much the same reasons.


1. Proteins are conformally changed upon heating (usually making them MORE 

2. Enzymes are proteins, so they are 'denatured' by cooking and become 
ineffective at their original functions. This includes lactase.

Missing Truths:

1. Milk is pasteurized for very good reasons. At the turn of the 20th 
century, tuberculosis was responsible for 1 in 3 deaths due to infectious 
disease in adults. A lot of tuberculosis was being transferred from cattle 
to humans. This was the principal motivating factor for pasteurization of 

2. Many cattle diseases are transferrable through milk, including 
brucellosis, anthrax and others.

3. Crohn's disease is believed to be caused by Mycobacterium 
paratuberculosis, which is transferred by milk as well.

4. Many 'raw meat' pathogens also get in milk, such as E. coli O157:H7 and 
Listeria monocytogenes. There have been many outbreaks traceable to use of 
unpasteurized milk.

5. Many raw food products contain chemicals intended to preserve the food. 
This includes milk and eggs. There are antibiotics in these products that 
interfere with human digestion.

6. Changes in protein conformation during pasteurization or cooking are 
not necessarily bad: usually the endproduct is more easily digestible than 
the original.

The use of unpasteurized milk in cheese is being discontinued for health 
reasons in North America and Europe, including France where it has been 
clung to to the bitter end. 

All of this public health interventions has a lot to do with the modern 
life expectancies in the developed world.

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