Group says raw milk is unsafe for human consumption

by Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition  |   June 25,2013

On behalf of the state's well-respected medical community and     several thousand Wisconsin families involved in the state's $26.5 billion dairy industry, we urge you not to support LRB 2542/1 and its Assembly companion LRB 2537/2 -- legislation that permits the sale of unpasteurized (raw) milk in Wisconsin. We are strongly opposed to this legislation because unpasteurized (raw) milk is unsafe for human consumption.

Medical, public health and microbiology professionals     overwhelmingly recognize the substantial risk for serious infectious diseases to occur with the consumption of unpasteurized milk and have worked tirelessly for years to protect children from the raw milk movement's misleading marketing campaigns. 

For the most part, children are the ones who become seriously ill from drinking raw milk given to them by a parent who believed the unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of raw milk but were not made aware of the risks.

Medical costs in these cases vary based on the severity of the illness but have been as high as $1 million. This does not include the future costs these victims face if a kidney transplant is needed or the lifetime supply of immunosuppressant drugs that are required for transplant patients.

Moreover, there is no published scientific evidence of any benefit from raw milk, nor is there any danger or loss of nutritional value as a result of pasteurization.  Nearly 120 raw milk health outbreaks have occurred in the United States since 1998 according to the Real Raw Milk Facts working group who gathered the facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's FOOD database and news reports from across the United States. Of the nearly 120 total outbreaks, the overwhelming majority (86) came from raw fluid milk, which resulted in 2,147 illnesses and sadly, two deaths.

 The real-life impacts of a raw milk outbreak recently happened in Wisconsin and in neighboring states. In June 2011, 16 fourth-graders and their family members from Racine County became ill after they drank raw milk at a class party.

One of the children became hospitalized as a result of the outbreak. In 2010, 18 people became ill in Michigan after drinking tainted raw milk. One of the most glaring incidents occurred in April 2012.

A two-year-old girl from     Oregon was one of 15 children who became ill from drinking raw milk (containing E. coli) obtained from a farm that provides raw milk through a herd shares program. This young girl and three other children developed HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome) and acute kidney failure. She suffered a stroke and died, but was resuscitated.

Almost a year later, she is not able to stand or walk on her own, she can't speak, and she is fed through a feeding tube. Part of her colon has been removed, she has pancreatic problems and now her kidneys have shut down. In February 2013, she was back on dialysis and has been placed on the list for a kidney transplant.

An editorial this spring appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel entitled, "Another CDC study shows potential peril of raw milk." The newspaper took the stand that the legislature should reject raw milk legislation for the "sake of the state's dairy industry and the health of its citizens."

We strongly urge that you carefully consider the impacts to public health before signing on to any legislation that allows for the sale of raw milk in Wisconsin. For more information, please call Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition contact Shawn Pfaff at 608-258-8411.