HEALTH

Salt Lake County Health Department warns against drinking raw milk

Oct 11, 2023, 9:47 PM | Updated: 9:56 pm

Drinking raw milk in not a great way to drink milk. Campylobacter is a bacteria found in raw milk t...

FILE - A line of Holstein dairy cows feed through a fence at a dairy farm (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

SALT LAKE CITY — Many Utahns have gotten sick with a bacterial illness linked to drinking raw milk. The majority of cases were identified by the Salt Lake County Health Department.

“Campylobacter infection is caused by drinking raw milk,” said Nicholas Rupp from the Salt Lake County Health Department, “one of the ways you can get it [is by drinking milk] that hasn’t been pasteurized.”

Most of us don’t drink raw milk

“So we have groups in the community who think raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk, and that is not scientifically sound. There’s no scientific evidence that that is true,” said Rupp.

It might be that “straight from the cow” freshness that people look for. However, there are actually a lot of bad bacteria that are found in unpasteurized milk.

“When milk is not pasteurized, it can contain a number of dangerous bacteria, salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and this one Campylobacter,” said Rupp.

Pasteurized milk is the safest option, as per the CDC and Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

In the state of Utah, it is legal to sell raw milk, but only if you’re a farmer. And only if you sell directly to the consumer. “But we do have three retailers here in Salt Lake County who are licensed by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to sell raw milk to those who make that choice,” said Rupp.

Rupp also warns, “But we, as health officials, do not recommend that it is best to drink milk and eat dairy products that are pasteurized, so those harmful bacteria are guaranteed to be killed.”

Symptoms of Campylobacter 

“Campylobacter can be very serious, particularly in people with other health conditions. It can even cause death although that is, fortunately, rare,” said Rupp.

He went on to say that the common symptoms include gastrointestinal illness, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

“Your grocery stores that are selling dairy products are only allowed to sell pasteurized dairy products. So, if you’re getting dairy products from your grocery store, you don’t need to worry about this.”

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Salt Lake County Health Department warns against drinking raw milk