Reason #5. Staphylococcus aureus
This toxin-producing microbe can infect cow udders. A cow with an infected udder will shed S. aureus in its milk. If the milk is not cooled immediately, or if the raw milk is used to make cheese, the bacteria can multiply and produce toxin.
Reason #4. E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogenic E. coli
E. coli is a normal inhabitant of the intestine. While E. coli O157:H7 gets most of the media attention, there are a number of strains that can be carried by apparently healthy cattle and can cause disease in humans. Unless scrupulous care is taken during milking, pathogenic E. coli can get into the milk. It takes only a few live cells of some of these strains to make a person - especially a child - extremely sick.
Reason #3. Listeria monocytogenes
One of the earliest recognized outbreaks of listeriosis resulted from eating contaminated Mexican-style cheese that had been made using unpasteurized milk. This 1985 outbreak was responsible for 142 illnesses and 48 deaths, including several miscarriages.
Reason #2. Salmonella
Raw milk has been the confirmed source of numerous Salmonella outbreaks. One of the more recent occurred in Pennsylvania in February of 2007. Twenty-nine individuals suffered from Salmonella gastroenteritis as a result of drinking unpasteurized milk, or eating dairy products made from unpasteurized milk produced at a single Pennsylvania dairy. Two of the 29 victims landed in the hospital. Fortunately, no one died in this outbreak.
Reason #1. Campylobacter
Washington State has just issued a recall alert for raw milk contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni. This species, along with Salmonella, is one of the two most common causes of food-borne disease in the U.S. and Canada.
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